Sunday, January 10, 2010
Okay, so I know this looks like real chicken, but it's actually a protein source called Gardein. Gardein is a play on the words, garden and protein. It contains no animal products and is made from whole grains and plant based proteins, and then it's slow-cooked to give it a meaty bite. It comes in many varieties. You can probably find it at your local grocery store and definitely at whole foods. This product is great for people trying to cut down their meat intake or for more variety in a vegan or vegetarian diet.
When I used to eat meat, one of my favorite dishes was a Chicken Piccata recipe from Everyday Italian by Giada De Lourentis. The Conscious Cook also has a Chicken Piccata recipe which was contributed by chef Scot Jones specifically using the Gardein Chicken. The recipes were pretty much the same, but I used a little influence from both of them for the one below. I ended up making roasted potatoes and onions, and wilted spinach which turned out to be an excellent addition. I am so excited to share this dish with you since it was one of my favorites from the past. I hope you enjoy!
Note: The Roasted Potatoes and Onions and wilted spinach recipes are below
3 Gardein Chick'n Scallopini breasts
Sea Salt to taste
Black Pepper to taste
1 to 2 cups of all purpose unbleached flour
6 tablespoons of Earth Balance (or any non-hydrogenated vegan butter)
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
1/2 cup vegetable stock
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup capers, rinsed and drained
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic (or more if you desire)
1/2 teaspoon shallot
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
Take the Gardein breasts out of the packet and season on both sides with some salt and pepper. I just sprinkle a little of each on both sides and kind of pat the Gardein to make sure it sticks.
Next, you want to coat the Gardein with flour, but Instead of dredging the Gardein, I grab some of the flour with my hands and coat on the breasts, and then shake off excess. Then, turn then over and do the same on the other side. That way, I am not wasting a bunch of flour. I really don't go crazy with the flour... I just use enough to coat each side of the Gardein.
In a large saute pan, over medium high heat, melt 3 tablespoons of the earth balance with 3 tablespoons of the oil. When the butter is melted and it starts to sizzle, then add 3 breasts and cook for 3 minutes, until browned on the bottom. Then, flip over and cook for another 3 minutes to brown on the other side. Remove the breasts to a plate.
Reduce the heat to medium low, and add the lemon juice, stock, wine, capers, garlic, and shallot. Bring to a boil, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan for extra flavor.
Return the breasts to the pan and simmer for 3 to 5 minutes. They should be heated through and the sauce should start to thicken. Plate the breasts, and add the remaining 3 tablespoons of earth balance and 2 tablespoons of oil to the sauce and whisk until smooth. Pour the sauce over the breasts, and the roasted potatoes and spinach (or whatever else you are serving with this)... garnish with parsley... and serve immediately.
Roasted Potatoes and Onions
6 Red Potatoes
1 white onion
Salt and Pepper
Preheat the oven to 350
Quarter the potatoes, or cut into bite size pieces
Cut the onion into large chunky pieces
Coat in a bowl with olive oil, salt, and pepper
Place potatoes and onions on baking sheet, and spread out so they are not on top of each other, and roast in oven for 35-40 minutes
When finished, put on plate with Gardein and pour some of the piccata sauce over the potatoes and onions.
About 3 cups spinach
Salt and pepper
Coat the skillet with olive oil, and set to medium heat. When you see the skillet begin to smoke, pour in the spinach. Season with some salt and pepper. Cook with a spoon stirring around the spinach for about 4 minutes until it starts to cook down. Take it off the heat after some leaves are wilted, but some are still full (it will still continue to cook down after taken off the heat). Plate this with the roasted potatoes and onions and Gardein, and pour some piccata sauce over the spinach for extra flavor.
I first heard about Gardein from my friend Karen. She mentioned she had heard about it in Oprah, and that the taste of this protein didn't taste much different from actual chicken. I hadn't heard about it at the time, but I am happy that I picked up the Conscious Cook and used this opportunity to cook with it because it really did taste just like chicken to me (from what I remember). I actually felt a little naughty eating it. It was that real!
It is great that this product is available because it's always helpful to have another protein source available, and it's wonderful to have a product that meat-eaters can switch to to protect their health and transition their diet to a more plant based one.
I ended up making this with the roasted onions and potatoes and wilted spinach, but this would also be great over angel hair pasta, quinoa, and steamed broccoli, or sauteed peppers. It could really go with anything! I really hope you try this recipe and product. I can't wait to hear about what you made!