Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Portobello Pepper Steak Stew

January kicks my ass every year. There are many reasons for this sad state of affair: the nasty Canadian weather is chief among them. I want nothing more than to go out for long walks with a nice thermos of tea, but the minus 8000 degree situation means I end up cooped up inside, going stir crazy from watching one-too-many episodes of "Sherlock". I also developed a crush on Benedict Cumberbatch. I definitely need to get out a bit more...

Occupying the couch with the cat has the long-term effect of making me feel like a giant potato. Let me confess something: I have no idea how much I weight! My doctor is the only one who knows, as I don't even own scales, but when I start feeling less than comfortable in my clothes, I know that something needs to be done.

I got the yoga mat out, my copy of "Punk Rock Aerobics" (go ahead, laugh, get it out of your system... and then go fly a kite!) and a good playlist and I started my meager home-workouts again. I also dusted off my copy of "Appetite for Reduction" and flagged a few recipes. This book saves my life in this post-Holidays-winter-lethargy mess that is January.

I really love that book, because eating low-fat is not something I have a problem with. Bland food is what my issue is, and this book contains NO bland recipes. Ha! I've posted a few recipes from that book, including chickpea and zucchini stew, pasta con broccoli and pad thai salad. But I got inspired to try a new one!

I was in the mood for something filling and meaty, but not too heavy, so a vegan stew was just the thing. The rich and earthy flavor of portobello mushrooms is something I can't get enough of, but I decided to rework the original recipe a bit. Isa calls for seitan, something I can never seem to find, no matter how much I look for it in every food store I walk in, so I used extra-firm tofu, that I cooked sprinkled with freshly ground black pepper, and a touch of paprika and oregano, to give it a more robust flavor that would go well with the veggies and the garlicky broth. I also upped the spiciness by being more liberal with the chili flakes. A lovely hot bite is very comforting when the cold is as intense as it has been in Montreal for the past few days...

The great thing about this recipe is that it's a one-pot stew: very little dishes to do at the end! It's also ready in less than an hour (if you don't include the time to press your tofu!).

2 teaspoons of olive oil
1 pound extra-firm tofu, drained, pressed and cut into strips
Freshly ground black pepper
A few pinches of paprika
1 red onion, sliced into 1/4-inch half-moons
1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced into 1/4-inch strips
1 green bell pepper, seeded and sliced into 1/4-inch strips
Sea salt
2 portobello caps, sliced into 1/4-inch strips
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon chili flakes
Several pinches of freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup dry red wine
2 cups vegetable broth
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Preheat a large pan over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the tofu with a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper and a pinch of paprika, and sauté in 1 teaspoon of the oil for about 5 minutes, until browned.


Remove the tofu from the pan and set aside.


Sauté the onion and pepper with a pinch of salt in the remaining oil until the peppers are slightly blackened, about 10 minutes.



Add the mushrooms, garlic, fennel seeds, thyme, remaining salt, red pepper flakes and black pepper and sauté for 3 more minute, until the mushrooms have released their moisture.


Add the red wine, and bring to a boil over higher heat. The liquid should reduce in about 3 minutes. In a measuring cup, mix the flour into the vegetable broth to dissolve into a slurry (start by adding the flour to 1/4 cup of broth, mix vigorously until think and dissolved, then add the remaining broth). Lower the heat and add the slurry to the pan. Mix well and let thicken for a minute.


Add the tofu back to the pan and let the stew thicken further, in about 5 minutes, it should be slightly thickened but smooth and luscious.


Taste for salt and seasoning and serve.

I served it with some baked potatoes (and I put sour cream on my potato... thus killing the vegan of the recipe. Sorry... kinda...) but rice would be a perfect bed for a few spoonfuls of this delight. You can even try to make a messy wrap with some tortillas!


This is a great winter recipe: filling, comforting, full of bold flavors and vitamin C! I LOVE freshly ground black pepper so I went crazy with the grinder, and was I ever right! The beautiful peppery kick really hit the spot on a cold winter evening. It reheats very well and makes a delicious lunch. You may want to double the recipe if you have company!!

1 comment:

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