Happy New Year, ninjas! For my first post of 2012, here is a delicious and VERY filling recipe I came up with after being inspired to try my hand at cooking Moroccan food. This recipe requires you to have a slow-cooker, but if you don't have one, you can just simmer the whole thing on the stove for a while until the potatoes are tender. If you have a slow-cooker though, use it! It makes the whole thing much easier, as once your ingredients are in the cooker you can pretty much forget about them. Plus, after about 8-10 hours, the vegetables, broth, and starch from the potatoes magically come together to form a thick, richly-spiced sauce that is absolutely amazing.
Slow-cooked seitan and vegetables with Moroccan spices
3 Tablespoon olive oil, divided
3 large yellow onions, quartered
1 cup vegetable broth + 1/2 cup for deglazing your seitan
2 teaspoons agave nectar
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 cinnamon stick
1 lb white sweet potatoes cut into large bite-sized chunks
2 cups whole cherry or grape tomatoes
3/4 cup chopped dates
1" cube peeled ginger, minced
6 cloves garlic
1 lb seitan, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 Tablespoon sea salt (or to taste)
several grinds black pepper
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
1/2 cup sliced almonds
Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook about 5 minutes, until they are browned and the layers are falling apart. Add the onions to the slow cooker along with the vegetable broth, agave, cumin, coriander, turmeric, and cinnamon stick. Stir everything around a bit and then add the potatoes, cherry tomatoes, and dates. Heat the other two tablespoons olive oil over medium heat in the same skillet you used to cook the onions. Add the minced ginger and garlic and saute 1 minute until fragrant, being careful not to burn the garlic. Add the seitan and cook for 5 minutes until lightly browned. Splash with 1/2 cup vegetable broth (or use water) to deglaze the pan, and scrape up all the browned bits of seitan, onion, and garlic that are stuck to the pan. Add everything in the pan to the slow cooker. Add the salt and pepper. Turn the slow cooker to low and cook for at least 8 hours, or until everything in the pot has melded into a dark, creamy sauce enveloping the seitan. Turn off the heat, remove the cinnamon stick, and add the chopped cilantro and mint and mix everything together one more time. Garnish each serving with sliced almonds.
Serve over couscous or with flatbread with sauteed greens on the side for a delicious meal.
Tips and Tricks:
1. If you don't have a slow-cooker, you can just use a large pot. After you brown your onions and seitan, add them to the pot in the order of the recipe, cover the pot, and simmer on low for several hours, stirring occasionally until all the ingredients have melded.
2. If you're feeling lazy or pressed for time, this recipe is still delicious even if you don't take the extra steps of browning the onions and seitan separately over the stove. If you want to make this even faster, just add all the ingredients to the slow cooker/pot in one step and start simmering away. This will make the texture of the seitan in the dish slightly less "meat-like" and the onions won't have as good a flavor, but I have made the recipe this way as well and it is still very tasty. This also basically makes this dish a one-pot meal.
3. Keep your potato, onion, and seitan pieces rather large. They should be small enough to fit in your mouth, but they should be chunky. The long simmering process will break down the potatoes and onions somewhat, so if they are too small to begin with you won't have any pieces of veggies at all by the time it's done cooking.
4. If you are unable to find white sweet potatoes, use yukon gold potatoes, but avoid regular baking potatoes or orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, as they will change the flavor and texture of the dish too much.
That's all for now, hope you enjoyed this one and see you again soon!
<3 The Fur Ninja