Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Brussels Sprouts and Russian Fingerlings with Vegan Cheese Sauce, Jerk Seitan marinated with Pixie Tangerine Juice, Cubed Salad (Almost No Added Fat)

We had a friend in town from California on business, and had the good fortune to have him as our dinner guest tonight. Though he is vegetarian (but not vegan), he probably hasn't been exposed to a lot of no-added-fat cooking, so I wanted to make a meal where he wouldn't notice that there was not much fat.

I thought that the vegan "cheese" sauce that is from the PCRM FFL diabetes curriculum and that I made on March 31st for our dinner would be good, especially since my daughter loves this and will eat it plain. It's a fun and easy sauce to make and does not contain much fat.

I rarely use oil in sautéing anymore, but occasionally use a bit to get browned tempeh or browned seitan. I decided to make seitan not with oil but also not in stainless steel, but rather in one of my well-seasoned cast iron pans (without adding any oil). I also thought it would be fun to get to know my Instant Pot programmable pressure cooker / steamer / slow cooker / sauté pan / yogurt maker better. This is what I did.


  • About a dozen or fifteen Brussels sprouts; remove end and outer leaves and, for medium or large sprouts, cut in half
  • About a pound of fingerling potatoes; stab a cut into each small potato and half each medium or large potato
  • A vegan bouillon cube (I use a no-added-salt one that I quite like by Rapunzel)
  • Three carrots cut into 1/2" slices
  • Two garlic cloves, diced finely

  1. I put about a cup of water in the Instant Pot as well as the included steamer basket. The water was below the bottom of the basket. Inspired by a pressure cooker recipe for Brussels sprouts with pomegranate and pine nuts, I put the Brussels sprouts into the basket (it's really not a basket but a mesh) and set the pot to a manual program of 3 minutes of pressure cooking with a setting of high pressure and steam release set to the quick mode (i.e., venting and not sealing). The pan worked like a charm - it takes a while (10m?) to get enough pressure, then counts down from 3 minutes till done.
  2. I removed the sprouts from the pan (I couldn't resist trying two sprouts, one of which had fallen to the bottom out of the steamer mesh, once they cooled - wow, these were perhaps the most perfectly cooked Brussels sprouts I've had! The one that had fallen had some carmelization from the heat of the bottom but was actually perhaps even tastier!) and kept them in a large bowl.
  3. The stainless steel bowl of the Instant Pot was a little brown, but I swished a little water in and it cleared up easily. I then added the bouillon cube, a cup and a half of water (more than in a recipe I found about pressure cooking fingerling potatoes), the potato, carrot, and garlic.
  4. I closed the lid and again used a manual program of 6 minutes - again with venting (quick mode) and high pressure.
  5. Once the vegetables were done, I opened the Instant Pot, tossed back in the Brussels sprouts, stirred, and served, topping with the cheese sauce described next.

Cheese Sauce (a PCRM FFL recipe)

  • 1/8 cup raw cashews
  • 1/8 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1/2 t onion powder
  • 1/4 t garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 T cornstarch
  • 1/6 cup roasted red pepper
  • (the original recipe also calls for 1t lemon juice, but I omit it)

  1. I put all of the ingredients into my Vitamix blender (any blender should do) and blended on high till homogeneous, about 30-45 seconds.
  2. I poured the orange liquid into a stock pan.
  3. When the other dishes were ready and about to be served, I gently heated over medium heat the liquid, stirring constantly. Within 2-3 minutes, the "cheese" nicely thickened, and I then served atop the vegetables described above.

I didn't describe the seitan or salad, but they were quite straightforward. The salad was just chopped tomato, fresh basil, a bit of sweet onion, a dash of ume plum vinegar, and a bit of salt and pepper all mixed together (I also added some jalapeno after serving my daughter the "unadulterated" salad). For the seitan, I marinated an 8 ounce packet of seitan strips in the juice of a tangerine (I marinated for an hour, but overnight would have been better). After draining the seitan, I sautéed it with about a third of a small sweet onion cut into thin 1/4" half moons and then cut into halves. I served my daughter this side dish, then mixed in jerk seasoning for the adults.

I think that dinner came out great! I loved how the Instant Pot made the vegetables, and the combination with the sauce was very good. How could seitan with jerk seasoning and a tangerine marinade not be tasty? It was, and was our friend's introduction to seitan. The salad was good; I should make chopped salads more often - and be sure that I have access to fresh basil as much as conveniently possible.

I am impressed with how well vegetables cook under pressure. This may be the best Brussels sprouts I've had, and I liked how the potatoes were uniformly cooked. I guess that the skins need to be pierced so that the pressure won't pop out fragments of the skin.

I call the meal "almost no added fat" because the only significant source of fat is the cashew. That only contributes about 7g of fat for the 1/8 cup of nuts, and that covered four servings (actually more, as my daughter ate some of the sauce plain).

Ideas for the future

I had a bit of a problem the first time that I used the Instant Pot last Wednesday, but the excellent customer service helped me to identify the likely issue was that I overfilled the pot (it should not go beyond 2/3 full, and it's possible I was just a bit over). This time, all went great, but I need to clarify whether it's okay to pressure cook in the venting position. While I remember reading that it was, I wonder how the pot gets up to pressure. I also wonder if things would be speeded up if I used heated (boiling?) water to start.

I'd love to make more dishes like this with a "cheese" sauce topping. I'll bet a mixture of some bigger grains (barley?) or pasta with vegetables would go great with the sauce. I look forward to continuing to integrate my new electronic cooker into my kitchen.

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At Thu May 01, 01:38:00 AM EDT, Blogger Dilip said...

I found out subsequently that, when pressure cooking, (of course!) the valve should be kept in the sealed mode. I don't know how my unit eventually got up to pressure in venting mode. The venting mode should really only be used in modes other than pressure cooking, such as slow cooking.


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