Last weekend I got the Veganomicon at Urban Outfitters for less than ten dollars. This book runs retail at around thirty dollars, so I was stoked to find it for so cheap. The binding and cover was a little damaged and there was some strange purple ink going on inside the book, but I don’t care: it’s a cookbook, it will get banged up around the kitchen.
It’s been inspiring to read all the recipes. One of the recipes that I was most interested in when I first saw the book was the chickpea cutlet recipe. One of the most difficult things about being vegetarian/vegan is finding meat substitutes. I’m sure that the need to have something meaty wears off as time goes by but I’ve only been doing this for a couple months so that desire is still there. I’ve tried tofu, seitan, TVP, and tempeh. I only like tofu and tempeh fried which isn’t the best thing for you. Plus unfermented soy is not good for the digestive system. I only like TVP when it comes pre-packaged as ground beef, but when I make it tastes like salty corn flakes: disgusting. Seitan is good but it takes a while to make and that much gluten is not good for your digestive tract. The chickpea cutlet is a mixture of mashed chickpeas, vital wheat gluten (what makes your seitan and the stuff that makes your bread chewy), bread crumbs, etc. I liked the idea of getting good protein from beans and the chewiness of wheat gluten.
The chickpea cutlets were simple to make and they came out amazing. I was completely surprised by how chewy, savory, and “meaty” they were. I even made some at my boyfriend’s parent’s house and they tried them and enjoyed them. They’re definitely big meat eaters and they enjoyed the meatiness of the cutlet. Andrew also liked them which is saying a lot since he’s a super picky eater. I was very pleased with the results.
One thing I do not recommend is re-heating these babies. They came out tasting like those frozen vegetarian fake meat products. It was gross, I couldn’t finish eating it. However, when they are fresh they are fantastic and would definitely impress veggies and meat eaters across the board. They however, are not for those who have to be gluten free unfortunately. Sorry guys, my body is fine with the gluten.
Adapted from the Veganomicon
- 1 cup canned chickpeas (The original recipe says cooked, but I buy canned organic chickpeas)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 cup vital wheat gluten
- 1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
- 1/4 vegetable broth
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic (the original recipe called for 2 cloves of garlic pressed, but I buy pre-minced garlic to save time)
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes (this is my addition)
Note: The original recipe also called for 1/2 teaspoon Hungarian paprika, 1/4 teaspoon dried rubbed sage, and 1/2 lemon zest, but I did not have these things on hand. I also made this recipe with 1/4 cup water instead of vegetable broth and Italian seasoned bread crumbs instead of plain bread crumbs. I am eventually going to try this with different seasonings and types of beans.
1. Pre-heat an oven to 375° F. In a mixing bowl, mash the chickpeas together with oil until no whole chickpeas are left. The first time I did this I used a food processor for this step. It goes much quicker and you come up with a less chunky “batter”. However, the second time I made it I just used my hands and a fork and it came out fine. Add the remaining ingredients and knead for about 3 minutes, until strings of gluten have formed.
2. Divide dough into four equal pieces. Knead each piece in your hand for a few moments and then flatten and stretch each into rectangle. Mine were not perfectly rectangular. Meat is not perfectly rectangular so why should other sources of protein come in funky shapes? I don’t like meat shapes. Once they are shaped stretch them so they are about 1/2 inch thick.
3. Brush each side of cutlet with olive oil. Then place on a non-stick baking sheet. Bake for twenty minutes then flip them over and bake for another 8-10 minutes. Serve with a sauce of your choice.