Sunday, August 28, 2011

Food Network Star Recipe, Veganized

I love the Food Network, and I'm especially fond of Food Network Star, where culinary hopefuls battle it out for a chance at their own series.  This season's winner was Jeff Mauro.  His concept, Sandwich King, makes "every sandwich a meal and every meal a sandwich."   All of his recipes look amazing, but, like most of the food featured on food competitions, tend to be meat-centric.  The one I saw on his show this afternoon was no exception - Greek Tacos with ground lamb.  But, since I love Greek food and it featured lots of produce, I decided to attempt to make it over into a vegan meal.

It was a fairly easy swap.  I made the cucumber, tomato and onion relish as directed, except I forgot that we didn't have red wine vinegar in the house.  Instead, I used apple cider vinegar.  Removing the seeds from the cucumber definitely helped from keeping it to watery - using a spoon was the most efficient way to do that.

For the "lamb," I sauteed some striped eggplant.   After removing the eggplant from the pan, I added some seitan.  I then made the sauce as directed - minced red onion, freshly minced garlic, tomato paste, oregano, salt and pepper and red wine.  Since I was making a vegan version of the recipe, I didn't make the yogurt sauce.  And, instead of making it a sandwich, I made up a pot of farro to use as a base. 

It may have been heresy to Mauro's concept, but it worked.  I liked the contrast between the warm, wine-y, meaty seitan/eggplant mixture and the cool relish.   The farro added a nice chewy texture as well.  The recipe was also a hit with our dinner guests, my cousin and my cousin's 14 month old daughter, who is quite the gourmand for a toddler! 

My favorite part of this recipe was my inaugural use of tomato paste in a tube.  I was always hesitant to make anything with tomato paste, because I feel like I never end up using the whole little can.  The tube allowed me to just squirt out what I needed to add enough flavor and color to the sauce.  I know it's been around in this form for awhile - why it took me so long to take advantage of it, I have no idea.


  1. This looks like a great vegan modification of the recipe. I happen to love Food Network Star and watched the Sandwich King today myself. If you love eggplant, also check out today's episode of Grill It! with Bobby Fly. He made what appears to be a scrumptious vegetarian sandwich - eggplant with roasted peppers and mozzarella. I can't wait to try it myself. Great idea, I think I'm going to have to try it.

  2. Tomato paste in a squirt tube is amaaaaaazing. It's one of my favorite things.