Planning a St. Patrick’s Day dinner for vegetarians is often difficult. Most Irish meals showcase large cuts of meat, and these dishes are considered to be customary for celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. By incorporating vegetarian recipes or replacing meat dishes with vegetarian meat substitutes anyone can host a festive and healthy St. Patrick’s Day.
Even the most traditional St. Patrick’s Day meal can be turned into a healthy vegetarian dinner by using seitan. Seitan is a healthy vegetarian meat substitute made from vital wheat gluten and liquid. Vital wheat gluten is found in the supermarket’s baking isle amongst the baking supplies such as flour and sugar. Similar to flour, the vital wheat gluten uses liquid to form a sticky dough that is very popular as a vegetarian meat substitute. Seitan is ideal for a St. Patrick’s Day meal or any other dinner that normally centers around a meat dish.
A box of vital wheat gluten typically costs less than $4 and usually has instructions for making seitan printed right on the box. Although the directions almost always say to use 2 cups of water for the entire box, try using something more flavorful instead, especially for a special occasion meal such as a St. Patrick’s Day feast. Liquid smoke, soy sauce and vegetable broth add to the “meatiness” of the seitan.
Once the liquid is mixed into the vital wheat gluten it will become a very sticky, spongy ball. Allow it to sit for approximately 15 minutes while you boil a large pot of liquid. Once again, vegetable broth or some other type of flavored liquid works best.
Cut the vital wheat gluten dough into small pieces and drop them into the boiling liquid. Put the cover on and allow it to simmer on low for one hour. When the hour is up, drain the liquid and you have the vegetarian meat substitute known as seitan.
Seitan can also be purchased pre-made from a health food store, if the vital wheat gluten process seems like too much work. However, pre-made seitan will be more costly and cannot be customized with flavored liquid since it has already been mixed and boiled.
On St. Patrick’s day, even the traditional meat-eaters will enjoy the taste and texture of seitan, which has a very “meat-like” texture. The seitan will take on the taste of whatever it is cooked in, making it easy to create a rendition of a famous Irish meal. Soy protein or another vegetarian meat substitutes can be substituted if seitan is not available.
This Corned “Beef” and Cabbage vegetarian dinner recipe uses fresh ingredients and the vegetarian meat substitute known as seitan.
Vegetarian Corned “Beef” and Cabbage
6 tbsp. olive oil
3 onions, cut into slices
1 head of cabbage, shredded
6 carrots, sliced thickly
3 celery stalks, sliced thickly
6 cups of vegetable broth
2 sprigs fresh thyme
4 sprigs of fresh sage
2 tsp. mustard
2 tsp. horseradish
2 tsp. vinegar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground black pepper
12 oz. seitan medallions
2 tbsp. flour blended into ¼ cup of water
Optional but recommended:
1/8 cup red wine
Heat the oil over medium heat in a large skillet, preferably a cast iron pan. A large pot can also be used or the recipe can be adapted for a crock pot – just be sure to wait until the very end to add the seitan or vegetarian meat substitute.
Add the onions and sauté until they begin to brown and caramelize, about 15-20 minutes. Add the cabbage, carrots, celery, broth as well as the thyme, sage, mustard, horseradish, vinegar, salt and pepper. Bring to a slow simmer. Cook for approximately 25 minutes or until the vegetables begin to soften and the liquid begins to reduce.
Add the seitan or other vegetarian meat substitute and bring to a low boil. Slowly add the flour and water mixture, and the wine if using. The wine creates a unique flavor and is a highly recommended ingredient. If cooking wine is used instead of regular red wine, be sure to omit the salt since it contains sodium. Cover and cook for 20 more minutes over a low-medium heat before serving the vegetarian Corned “Beef” and Cabbage alongside boiled potatoes or another favorite St. Patrick’s Day side dish. This vegetarian recipe makes an ideal centerpiece for any St. Patrick’s Day dinner, whether you are trying to be healthy or don’t eat meat.