I also find that what I miss the most is the spices or flavors in the meat dishes I was used to eating, which very often can be replicated in vegetarian dishes with the same, satisfactory results by using the same spices but with “meaty” vegetables like mushrooms and eggplant instead of actual animal parts.
Meat substitutes can, however, add heft and valuable protein to a vegan meal. One of the dishes I enjoy eating, and which I make with a meat substitute, is my Red-Hot Chili.
I used a veggie protein sausage substitute from Gimme Lean which I found at Whole Foods. I also used beans, which are a traditional ingredient in chili, and eggplant to add more chunky goodness to my version.
We ate Red-Hot Chili piled high on chunky bread with a super-simple salad of cucumber, avocados and onions that’s flavored only with red wine vinegar (try it- it’s delicious).
Thanks, Harini, for inspiring me to revisit a favorite.
1 14-oz package of Gimme Lean sausage-style veggie protein
1 large red onion, diced
1 cup cooked pinto beans
1 medium eggplant, cubed
5 large cloves garlic, minced
1 cups crushed tomatoes
3 chipotle chilies in adobo sauce, chopped (Cut down if you don’t like your chili too hot. These are important because they add that great smoky flavor. You can find them for a dollar a tin in the Hispanic foods aisle of any supermarket)
2 cups vegetable stock or water
1 tbsp canola/vegetable oil
Heat oil in a large skillet. Add the onions and garlic and saute on medium heat until softened, around 3-5 minutes.
Crumble the Gimme Lean into the skillet. Stir until the sausage starts to brown, which may take about 5-8 minutes. Try to scrape up anything that sticks to the bottom of the skillet, but don’t panic if all of it doesn’t come off: it will come off later when you add the liquid ingredients, and so long as you don’t burn it over very high heat, it’ll add more fabulous flavor to the chili.
Now add the cubed eggplant and some salt and stir a few more minutes until the eggplant is fairly tender.
Add the beans and the tomatoes and the chipotle chilies.
Stir around for another couple of minutes. Then add 2 cups of water or vegetable stock.
Cook, covered partially, over low heat for around 45 minutes until the chili is quite thick.
Serve hot with salad or just finely diced onions.