Today's recipe calls for two unusual ingredients: Vegemite and seitan. I ordered some Vegemite last spring because it is highly recommended by one of my MIT cycling teammates who is Australian and very fast. Wanting to be very fast, I ordered some hoping that it was her secret to speed. Then I was at a loss as to how I should use it. Vegemite is a dark brown yeast extract spread that is rich in many of the B vitamins, magnesium, and potassium, and is definitely an acquired taste. Finally, I read somewhere that Vegemite could make a killer vegan broth that was almost beef-like and I knew what I was going to do with it! I got a little bit faster without it this season, we'll see if I get super fast now that I am incorporating Vegemite into my diet.
The next strange ingredient is seitan. Seitan is quite literally wheat meat: it is concentrated vital wheat gluten, the protein that tends to cause a wheat sensitivity. Naturally, this stuff is off limits to people allergic to gluten, but for the rest of us it offers an interesting high protein vegan meat substitute. Wheat protein is low in the essential amino acid lysine, but all of the essential amino acids are there, making this a good choice occasionally when you're looking for something with a meaty texture. 1/4c dry makes a generously sized "cutlet" and contains 120 calories, 0.5g fat, 23g protein, and 10% of your daily value of iron. It also absorbs flavors very well, making it an excellent choice for incorporation into a vegetarian stew. If you are allergic to gluten, I would highly recommend trying this recipe with dried giant white lima beans. They are a complete source of protein, taste more like white beans than lima beans, and will absorb the flavor of the stew well!
For the Sietan
2/3c vital wheat gluten (you can find it on Amazon or at Whole Foods)
1T ground sage
1t black pepper
(OR 1c dried Giant White Lima Beans)
For the Stew
2 celery stalks
1 can diced, no salt added tomatoes
1T Vegemite (you can find it on Amazon)
sage, parsley, garlic, and black pepper to taste
1. In a medium sized bowl, combine ingredients for the seitan. Once the dough starts to cling together, kneed it a few times.
2. Meanwhile, combine tomato paste, Vegemite, sage, parsley, garlic, and black pepper with two cups water in the bottom of your crock pot. Whisk to combine.
3. Add can of tomatoes.
4. Slice and add celery and scallions and add to crock pot.
5. Peel the potatoes and carrots. Cube/ slice and add to crock pot.
6. Add additional water to fill your crock pot 3/4 full. Pull small lumps off of your seitan dough and add them directly to the stew. Stir to combine every few lumps so that they don't end up sticking together.
OR! To make this gluten free, wash your died beans well and add them directly. Add extra spices to the broth.
7. Fill your crock pot the rest of the way with water.
8. Cover and cook on high for ~8 hours (overnight or while you are at work/ school for the day)
9. Come home to a delicious smelling, warm supper!