Heirloom Beans & Seitan

Heirloom Beans & Seitan Recipe

A few weeks back Wayne and I spent three days visiting Palm Springs. The weather was hot (in a good way), and the weekend was set against the backdrop of a piercingly clear blue sky. We visited date farms, browsed vintage furniture shops, brunched outdoors under giant umbrellas, lounged around near the hotel pool, and went to a beautiful evening wedding at the Corona Yacht Club. We arrived home late Sunday night, neither of us felt like going out again, and it became one of those nights where dinner comes together as I pick and pull from every shelf, drawer, and pocket in the refrigerator/freezer. We ended up having this heirloom bean and broccoli bowl with shallots and seitan. It's filling and hearty, and the roasted broccoli works nicely with the beans and the dusting of cheese I add at the end. I've cooked this three or four times since that night, and thought it might be the kind of thing you'd like to make too.

Heirloom Beans with Seitan

I suspect some of you might not be familiar with seitan. You can buy it at many natural food stores, and the Whole Foods Markets here in San Francisco stock it as well. But let me back up a bit and say, I've only recently become enamored with seitan. In fact, it has always been one of those ingredients I would skip over at the store. I suspect this was because I've never been interested in making meals with faux meat. In addition to that, I think we can agree, seitan is not an attractive ingredient. To my eye it looks like dense, wet, papier-mâché. Nicknames? Some people call it wheat meat....again, not very charming. All that aside, I've come to enjoy seitan. Here's how.

Heirloom Beans with Seitan

Wayne came home with some "cutlets" one day (this one). He chopped them into small chunks which he then pan-fried. The little pieces got nice and brown, and crispy. I had to admit it was quite good. Ever since, and despite its status as the least photogenic ingredient in my refrigerator, I've been making an effort to been cooking with more and more of it - mostly in stir-frys, or as a protein-packed topping on chunky soups, or in a range of throw-it-all-in-the-skillet type meals like this one.

For the other components in this particular recipe? I almost always have bags of leftover cooked heirloom beans in my freezer, so I used those. And then tossed a few handfuls of broccoli in olive oil and roasted it for just a few minutes. That's pretty much it.

I'll leave you with a couple snapshots from Palm Springs. Here's a picture of Wayne enjoying a morning espresso. And a photo of one of the date farms we visited. I made date cookies when I got home using little date chunks and a recipe I found on the side of a bag of the date pieces. Unfortunately, they were quite bad, which is why they never made it onto the site :/

Heirloom Beans & Seitan Recipe

Feel free to tweak the ratio of beans to seitan if you like more beans or less. You might also crisp up the beans if you like - I've also thought about adding the beans to the broccoli pan and heating them up that way....You can use any number of beans here - preferably beans that hold their shape. In my freezer I happened to have some heirloom beans bought and cooked from the farmers' market (some sort of cranberry bean?), as well as some Hutterite soup beans from Rancho Gordo - so I used this slightly bizarre combination (this is what you see in the photo). But I've also used white cannelini beans in the past, and chickpeas are great too. From a can will work - just drain, rinse, and shake off any extra water before using.

1 small-medium head of broccoli or broccolini, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
fine grain sea salt

4 ounces seitan, sliced into smallish bite-sized pieces
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon clarified butter or extra virgin olive oil
2 cups of your favorite cooked beans (see head notes)
3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan or Grana Padano

Preheat oven to 400F degrees. Toss the broccoli with the olive oil and a couple pinches of salt, and place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes or until the broccoli is cooked through and has starting to char just a bit where it is touching the pan. Alternately you might boil, steam, or saute the broccoli - but I like roasting the broccoli for this, it works particularly well.

In the meantime, in a large non-stick or (preferably) well-seasoned pan, over medium high heat, saute the seitan and shallots in a bit of clarified butter or olive oil. I like to get the seitan nice and dark and a touch crispy at the edges. The shallots should brown up nicely as well - ten minutes or so. Stir in the beans and cook until they are heated through, you can even let those brown up a bit if you like. At this point, stir in half the grated cheese, taste, and adjust seasoning if needed with more salt.

Turn the beans and seitan out onto a large plate or platter, top with the roasted broccoli and finish with the remaining cheese.

Serves about 2 as a main, 4 as a side.

Prep time: 10 minutes - Cook time: 20 minutes

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!
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Comments

  • Heidi -- Where do you get your beautiful broccoli? I've been buying the organic broccoli at Whole Foods in Noe but even that is yellow underneath the green canopy and just... not so good.

    Kate
  • That looks like a great comforting meal. I love pulling together a great meal, when it seems like there is nothing to make in the house! And I love that picture of Wayne, what a great shot!

    Jenn@slim-shoppin
  • I should point out that Seitan is almost entirely wheat gluten, making it unsuitable for the gluten intolerant and those with Celiac disease. Just in case someone didn't guess that from the phrase "wheat meat". :)

    A. Reid
  • For those who said it's hard to find seitan (and crafty people like Heidi, of course) it's actually quite easy to make yourself. You basically mix wheat gluten and water, kneed it a little, and then simmer the spongy dough in broth for about an hour. You can add herbs directly to the seitan dough and can also flavor it with the broth (it soaks up a ton of broth as it cooks, and chunks of seitan double or triple in size as they cook). Several of my vegan cookbooks have instructions. Here's one that has a few more ingredients in it than I usually use, but it looks good! The process is the same as I've done. http://www.theppk.com/recipes/dbrecipes/index.php?RecipeID=112 (There are also instructions out there for starting from flour instead of wheat gluten, but that looks like a huge pain and it works just fine if you start from gluten.)

    Kirsten
  • I've always shied away from seitan myself. High time I try it, this sounds like a superb winter dinner.

    The Ordinary Vegetarian
  • Hi Heidi - I recently purchased Vital Wheat Gluten Flour to make my own Seitan. Have you come across any good recipes to make the Seitan from scratch ? Thanks so much, Elizabeth HS: Hi Elizabeth, I did make seitan a few times from scratch - it has been years though. And I can't remember which recipe I used unfortunately. I remember kneading dough for a while to develop the gluten strands and then rinsing the ball of dough to get rid of everything but the gluten.....it was quite fascinating, but a bit of a project, and my results weren't so tasty. ;) Maybe someone else in the comments will have a specific recipe to recommend.

    Elizabeth
  • So timely. Our good friends down the street cook with seitan quite a bit, but I've always stuck to tofu and tempeh after encountering some pretty rubbery, heartburn-inducing renditions of seitan at Chinese and Vietnamese restaurants. I really appreciate a) hearing that I'm not alone in finding the whole 'wheat meat' thing a bit off-putting, and b) hearing from someone I trust that this, too, can be properly prepared into something my family will eat. It's always very rewarding to start at "eww, I don't like [insert name of ingredient here]," and get to, "wow, I never liked [ingredient] until you cooked it for me." Some things never make the cut, but we try!

    Liz
  • I was just reading about date farms a few days ago in an issue of Sunset from, I don't remember, sometime in the past few months. (I'm always behind.) We eat a ton of dates in my house and I loved seeing the pictures of the trees and learning how they grow. You and Wayne are lucky, and the Flickr photos are lovely. While I'm all for broccoli and heirloom beans (I'm keeping quiet on the seitan), I look forward to future date recipes! HS: I love dates too! Wayne bought a date shake at one of the farms, which was delicious for a sip or two, but wow - SO sweet.

    Cheryl
  • Delicious and healthy. This is a perfect Fall weather salad.

    Nutmeg Nanny
  • My mom makes excellent oatmeal date bars! The base is oats and a bit of butter and sugar (probably brown); then a nice rich layer of pretty much just dates all smushed up; and then crumbly oaty topping. I don't know the exact recipe, though.

    Carla
  • Heidi, I must say, I love this site. I always find something interesting and unique that inspires me to eat and eat in a healthy way. Now, I'm on the search for seitan!

    Reginald @ Ceramic Canvas
  • What I like most about this dish is that you have not only addressed, but embraced, an everyday reality here. We all get busy, (especially at this time of the year), and we all run out of fresh ingredients and come home to meals made from whatever we can find in the pantry. This does not look like a scavenged meal at all - it looks delightful. And I think knowing how to make something delicious out of whatever you can scrape together is the true test, and very essence of knowing how to cook. Thank you Heidi, I'm working on it ! Michaela

    The Gardener's Eden
  • Wow, I'm so impressed you were able to just look around and come up with this! Looks delicious, as always!

    Simply Life
  • This looks delicious! I love roasted broccoli, especially with cumin seeds and coriander seeds. I haven't thought of adding beans, but now I have another reason to roast more broccoli (can you hear my kids groaning in the background?)

    Susan
  • Heidi, this looks delicious! I've never cooked heirloom bean before. In fact, I don't think I've ever seen them (that I know of). This is what I love about your site. I'm always learning new things :)

    Estela @ Weekly Bite
  • That looks delicious! I bet I could figure out something to sub for the seitan since I can't eat gluten.

    christie @ honoring health
  • Oh yum! Do you think it would work without seitan though? I have NEVER seen seitan in any health food stores here in Cape Town unfortunately... How about adding tofu fried in a little oil and soy sauce instead?

    Koek!
  • Hi Heidi, I totally understand how you feel about cooking food that doesn't look as good as it tastes. However, this actually looks really delicious. It seems to me like everytime you use broccoli the dish always looks (and tastes) good. Regarding your date cookies. We use dates as the main ingredient for a lot of sweets (chocolate cake, carrot cake, vegan truffles...) and it almost always tastes great. So don't give up on the dates.

    David @ Green kitchen stories
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