Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Seitan Kebabs

I have to admit, that I am a little chagrined about how much the seitan chunks look like meat in these photos...I'm not terribly interested in replicating meat experiences...but in the same breath, I'll also admit that these were darn good. I apologize if the meat-like appearance freaks anyone out. (It sort of weirded me out a little too.)

The faux meat is some of Gardein's Beefless Tips...of course any kind of seitan that suits your fancy would work a treat too. I usually opt for the homemade variety...but sometimes you just don't have time to stay on top of the homemade seitan scene and/or whip up seitan on the fly, ya know?

I got the idea from an omni cooking magazine that I was leafing through at my mom's house...the simplicity of the three ingredients together (seitan, red onion, red pepper) appealed to me somehow, so I went with it. The nice thing about this particular combo is that the ingredients all take about the same time to cook (provided they are chopped into similar-sized pieces).

The seitan is marinated in a simple, but delicious mixture. (For an oil-free alternative I think subbing a mixture of lime juice and Bragg's Aminos for the oil would be good--better even. You'd probably want to leave the salt out in that case.)

Garlic-Coriander Marinade:

1 tbsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
1.5 tbsp coarsely ground coriander seed
pinch of coarse sea salt
(Marinade and kebab recipe adapted from Bon Appétit, August 2010 issue)

Depending on how much seitan you plan to use, you might want to double or triple the recipe.

After tossing the seitan in the marinade and leaving it for an hour or two, just skewer it all up with the veggies, plop them on the BBQ and baste occasionally with the leftover marinade:

We had them with some salad from the garden, rosemary roasted potatoes, and a drizzle of vegan basil pesto.

But wait, there's more...we have hearty appetites you know. We also dined on some cauliflower and green beans in a sun-dried tomato and shallot vinaigrette:

The beans and cauliflower are lightly blanched and then tossed with the dressing on a bed of frisée lettuce:

Sun-dried Tomato - Shallot Vinaigrette:

1/2 shallot, finely minced (~ 2 tbsp)
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar (or to taste)
1 generous teaspoon Dijon
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil ( or more/less to taste)
4-5 sun dried tomatoes, finely chopped (I used dried, reconstituted in warm red wine...if you have any dry sherry on hand,  reconstituting them in that would compliment the sherry vinegar)

Whisk all ingredients together until well combined. (If you don't want to use oil, you could substitute with cashew cream.)

This is our dining room during the summer:

And now for a little backyard drama. The photo below shows 3 Western Red Cedars that live in the eastern corner of our backyard.

Our landlord planted these about 15 years ago, thinking that they were a different type of decorative cedar that only reaches a mature height of 12 -15 feet (4-5 meters). Boy, was he mistaken: these trees grow hundreds of feet high. According to my neighbor, these particular trees are just entering their teenage years and have a lot more growing to do. Notice how the tops have all grown intertwined, making it look like one big tree, (the one in the middle must really be feeling the love!) but if you look below the branch line, you see three distinct trunks.

Here's where the drama comes in: my neighbor is afraid that the roots of the trees will eventually  push up his foundation and cause structural damage...he's some sort of civil engineer, so I tend to think he knows what he's talking about. He wants my landlord to cut the trees down. My landlord on the other hand, isn't willing to pay for this...so my neighbor and my landlord are in the process of hashing it out; we're stuck in the middle.

I don't want the trees to go, because they are beautiful and just starting out in life. And the critters love them. Raccoons, crows, stellar jays, flickers, chickadees, and other creatures often come down from their limbs to pay us a visit. I guess we'll have to wait and see what the future holds for these young cedars.


  1. backyard drama, i like that! but not what you are going through...:( i can see everyones point.

    loved all your marinades, i think i need to buy coriander:)

  2. Okay, first of all, how do you still have radishes?!?! It got too hot here about a month ago for them.
    Second of all, your food and *especially* your backyard dining table look absolutely gorgeous. Could be in a magazine!
    Third of all, I feel you re: the tree issue. The previous owners of our place planted what I can only assume they thought would be tiny little trees in the backyard--they are now huge monsters. We love to garden and it would be great if they were never planted there to begin with, but....I can't quite sit with the idea of cutting them down.

  3. Too bad about the cedars and the critters that live in them. I have some gorgeous pines that grew much faster and bigger than I expected and am trying to figure out what to do.

    Your backyard dining room looks like a charming English country estate! Lucky you!

    I still haven't tried any of the gardein products though they sound tasty. All of your food looks yummy, especially the salads!

  4. The Gardein does look a little too much like meat. Crazy! But I like the simple treatment with peppers and onions.

    How nice to eat outside all summer. Our weather is typically far too hot for that here. Lucky you!

    I think your civil engineer neighor is right. We have heard of similar problems here. Bummer on the trees.


  5. All of your food looks delish! I haven't tried any kind of seitan yet. I haven't been able to find any where I live. :-( Your back yard looks gorgeous!

  6. Beautiful kabobs - so colorful. Love the nasturtiums in the container. Taking down trees is so traumatizing. Mr. SV wanted some taken down that he thought might fall on the house. I was so enraged, I couldn't speak. Do you get a dormant season in Seattle where there would be less damage to critters?

  7. Funn first sentence because as soon as I saw the picture, I thought "whoa, that totally looks like meat." I don't mind analogs, though. I haven't eaten meat since I was around 6 or so, though, so maybe that's one reason they don't bother me.

    Your dining room in the summer is amaaaazing. I agree; it could be in a magazine. The green bean/cauliflower salad looks incredible; I just don't think of these combinations on my own.

    Ugh, I hate cutting down trees. We built our house on our land in a spot that probably wasn't the BEST, but it allowed us to keep all of the trees. It's tough, though, when you're talking about ruining a home. :(

  8. DirtyDuck,

    I can see all points of view too...just hope someone lets me know before hand if they do decide to chop them.

    The coriander really did work well in the marinade.


    I think it's a climate thing. None of the cooler weather crops have bolted in my garden...I think it has to do with our relatively cooler summers here in the Pacific Northwest and the shade from those cedars probably plays a role too.

    I hear you with the trees vs gardening issue...the good things about it all is that 1) I don't have the final decision, and 2) if they do cut them down, it will significantly increase the hours of direct sun we get in our garden beds.




    I'm hoping if they do chop them, they'll start by hand sawing branches higher up...this will give any critters a chance to flee...I think most birds have fledged now, so hopefully no nests with young birds will be disturbed.

    As for the Gardein; we've had it a handful of times...more to have a taste test than something to buy on a regular basis, but it is nice to have in the freezer for something quick once in a while.


    I know, doesn't it look exactly like meat? I was in two minds about posting it because I wasn't sure whether people would believe me.

    The weather has been ideal for dining al fresco lately...maybe you can get some of that action in early Autumn if/when the temps start to be more moderate.


    Thanks. After tofu, seitan is my favorite. If you can find some, let us know how you like it.


    I hear you on the tree issue...in a way, I'm glad I don't have to involved in the decision making...I'm not sure about the dormant season, but early autumn might be a good time, when some of the birds are starting to migrate anyway and all the fledglings have flown the nest.


    I really was in two minds about posting it...I didn't want anyone to think I had given up the cause...looking like meat weirds me out a little, but if the texture is too much like meat, then it really weirds me out.

    It's so cool that you've been vegetarian since you were 16...I didn't cop on until I got to college. I really admire people who put it altogether at young ages.

    The beans and cauliflower make a nice combo I think, but it was sort of an accident that I paired them...it's just what I happened to have in the fridge and wanted to use up.

  9. Jenny:

    Correction...I just saw that you said 6 not 16...now I'm very impressed!

  10. I am also in awe of your outdoor dining. Whenever I want to eat outside, I have to do it myself because my partner claims extreme susceptibility to bug bites.

    I hope the disagreement between your neighbor and landlord doesn't interfere with you too much! Isn't it amazing that a young tree can threaten to shake a whole house? Whoa...

  11. All this looks just lovely, especially the al fresco backyard table arrangement!

    I wish you and the critters well in the drama. Something similar happened in my backyard several years ago, with giant poplars from the neighboring complex. They were awesome, a whole green wall of excellent white noise, but they did shade both complexes, and at one point nearly my whole yard had to be excavated to get at buried sewer pipes that had clogged owing to poplar roots growing into them. So you're right, these situations are always complicated...

  12. Jessica,

    I with you, in the summer, I like to do as many things outside as possible. I think we're so busy scarfing that we don't notice the bug bites...hope you can convince your partner that it's not so bad.

    The power of tree roots is amazing isn't it?


    Thanks for your well wishes...it really is out of my hands, but if they do decide to chop them, I will certainly be there to advocate for any wildlife that may be around. I understand my neighbor's point of view...I find it curious that my landlord doesn't have the same worry about our house (I mean we live in it, but he owns it)...he must figure our place is a lost cause. LOL

  13. Your kebabs look great - did find that the seitan dried out at all? Whenever I grill/bbq "sausages", they always dry out, so it would be great to have these as an option. Such a beautiful backyard table! You can come for my cakes, if I can come for your dinner!

  14. BlessedMama,

    I've had the same experience with barbequeing other veggie meats...but these were not dry at all...I think it made a difference that they were frozen beforehand, so had all those frozen pockets of moisture, plus marinating them beforehand, they seemed to soak some of that up...and it's the first time I've tried BBQ w/ Gardein, so maybe it's just better at it (?)

    Sounds like a deal to me: I'll do dinner, you bring the cakes...and all your wonderful kids...I'd love to play capture the flag or hide n seek...or whatever fun stuff the kids play these days (I'm a bit out of the loop). :)

  15. Thanks, I'll give that a shot the next time we bbq. G is so bummed out with dried out veggie meats, that he just cooks his indoors. Maybe this will be our new thing! :-)

    Okay, Rose, it's a date. You sound like so much fun - the kids would have a blast!

  16. Rose,

    I could never assume you'd gone over to the Dark Side, but I AM glad you put that big disclaimer on that kebabs photo, because those beefless tips do look alarmingly like flesh! Like you, we eat very little commercial meat analogs. But I think they can be helpful as a transition food for new veg*ns and to serve omnis who might otherwise balk at trying something that looks too unfamiliar. Gardein (which I've heard a lot of good things about but which is unavailable here in the Wasteland) has certainly done a masterful job of making vegan "beefless" tips look like something that would doubtless beguile the most avowed omni every time!

    All your food, as always, looks delicious and the photos of it are beautiful! I completely agree with Stacy and Andrea that your outdoor dining table looks like an English Country Estate and it should be in a magazine! Martha Stewart's got NOTHIN' on you! :-)

    I'm heartsick about the trees. I understand your neighbor's concern, but admittedly there's a part of me that says, "leave the trees and tear down the house!" ;-) It is funny your landlord isn't concerned. Ah well, just goes to show it's important to know what it is you're planting and to be able to foresee down the road 20 years or so! It also goes to show that we'd all be better off living in teepees or yurts that we could just pick up and move in a case like this! :-) I'm glad the trees' wildlife residents and visitors will have you as their advocate should the trees be sacrificed, and that there's a silver lining it it for you in more sunshine for your garden. (And hopefully, it being Seattle, there are many more trees around your place for the critters' sake and for your enjoyment!)

  17. Hi Laurie,

    I had to put that disclaimer up...I didn't do it originally, but it was bothering me, because I didn't want anyone to get the wrong idea...but I think I should contact Gardein...it has the makings of a good advert LOL.

    As for the outdoor dining, I'm going more for the Martha "Stewbird" look...Martha Stewart is a little passe, don't you think?

    I'll keep you posted on the trees...for now, everything seems to be at a stand still, so I hoping things will settle down for now, and the trees will be safe for another year.

    Have a great weekend.

  18. Hi, Rose!

    Good idea, sending that disclaimer-emblazoned photo to Gardein!

    I'm sure Martha Stewart has been passé for some time - I just have no idea who might have come along to take her place in popular culture as the maven of decor and entertaining. Rachel Ray? (Oh, please!) Martha Stewbird is clearly a superior role model, but remember - the girl thinks a splash of guano is trés chic. ;-)

    Wishing the trees a reprieve and you a great weekend too!

  19. Hi, Rose!

    I think sending your disclaimer-emblazoned photo to Gardein as an ad pitch is a great idea! :-)

    I'm sure Martha Stewart is very passé, but have no idea who the new maven of dining, decorating and entertaining in pop culture might be. Martha Stewbird is definitely a superior role model, but don't forget the girl thinks a splash of guano is trés chic. ;-)

    Wishing the trees a reprieve and you a wonderful weekend! xoxo

  20. The food all looks beautiful! I love your table too, especially with the summery tablecloth and all the flowers. I'd love to dine there...

  21. Bonnie,

    Thanks! :) If you're ever in these parts during the summer, you'd be more than welcome to dine al fresco with us!


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