Joe’s Corner: Hearty Seitan Ragout

This may be called a ragout but when I cooked it felt more like a stew. Then again I don’t even know what a ragout is. After the initial cooking of the seitan, tofurky and vegetables this pretty much involved a large pot of broth, the vegetables and spices. And what’s nice is that you cook the pasta with it, rather than serving it like a sauce. I had fun with this dish; it has a lot of wiggle room with how you spice it. I was constantly tasting it as I added more of one spice or another. I also thought the cheese taste never really came out, and honestly would have been just as good if not better without it. Some dishes are made for cheese, and some don’t need it. If the cheese isn’t a large part of the taste why add it? I think this is one of those situations, but to each their own. Also, using tofurky sausage still didn’t get me away from the need to remove the “sausage” casing. Having never done this, I didn’t quite figure it out… So I just cut it into slices. The original recipe calls for ground meats, but the sliced tofurky along with the cubed seitan gave this dish a very different texture. I enjoyed it. This was one of my favorites so far.

1 tbsp olive oil
1 lb ground seitan
1/2 lb tofu sausage (italian preferred), casing removed
1 large onion, chopped
1 green pepper, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
4 beefsteak tomatoes, diced
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tbsp parsley
1 (16 oz) can cannelloni beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup uncooked elbow pasta (I used ziti)
6 oz fresh baby spinach leaves, washed (didn’t have this either unfortunately)
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. Heat oil in sauce-pot over medium-high heat. Add seitan, onion, and pepper then cook until  seitan has browned. Add garlic and cook an additional minute.
2. Add broth, spices, basil, tomatoes and beans. Heat to a boil. Cover and cook over low heat 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add pasta and cook until pasta is done.
3. Add spinach and cook just until spinach is wilted, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in cheese. Serve hot with fresh crusty bread.

I added mushrooms and used 2 cups pasta instead.  As you can guess this is a very versatile dish, but without adding those I think it would have been too light, but maybe that’s just me.


Summer time

Every now and then I hear something, either on TV or the radio, where I have to stop and ask myself if I heard that correctly. This would frequently happen when watching House or Glee or while listening to one of the various local “shock jocks.” However it has rarely happened as the result of a commercial yet the other day while driving to work I heard a Subway commercial that really made me pause and wonder if I heard them correctly. Now I’m not saying I agree with them but the “summer tips from Officer Jim (?) are some of the funnier things I had heard on radio in awhile. I’m not going to give details about this very un-PC commercial but I’m sure that it can easily be found online by googling Subway and “keep our beaches beautiful.”

Now on to the real reason you are here, the recipe. Many moons ago I had this amazing zucchini and cheese side dish at a restaurant near my college. I basically decided to take an already amazing side dish and make some changes to make it more of a main dish. This is not one of the healthiest vegetarian dishes out there but it could easily become less sinful by changing out the cheeses for a part skim mixture, or even subbing with a low-fat vegan cheese.
Three Squash Casserole w/Two Cheeses
1 zucchini, sliced 1/4 in thick
2 yellow squash, sliced 1/4 in thick
1 medium eggplant, sliced 1/4 in thick
1 medium onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
5 ounces Gouda, shredded
5 ounces Pepper Jack, cubed
salt and pepper to taste
1. Preheat oven to 375
2. Lightly spray a medium size casserole dish with cooking spray. Arrange a layer of squash slices evently on the bottom of the dish, alternating between the zucchini, squash, and eggplant. Top with a layer of onion and green peppers and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Layer a 1/4 of the shredded Gouda along with dots of the Pepper jack. Repeat the layers, ending with a layer of cheese.
3. Cover the casserole with aluminum foil and bake for 35minutes. Remove the foil and continue to back an additional 30minutes, until the squash is tender and the cheese is bubbly. Let stand a few minutes before serving.
I’m not sure what cheeses were in the orginal version of this dish, I’m sure cheddar was one of them but I’m not sure as to the second cheese. I have a feeling that any combination of smooth and sharp would work well.