Happy New Year everyone! I am personally thrilled that 2012 has come to a close and that 2013 is here to bring about positive changes and new beginnings for us all. I’ve just returned from a lovely, snow-covered vacation to Grand Rapids, MI to visit the husband’s family and friends. While there for our two week stay, we stayed in our close friends’ massive, newly refinished mansion in a historic district of Grand Rapids. There were about 10 total guests, and each one had a special food need/request. Most were gluten-free, some were tomato/garlic/nut-free, and then there were the vegans. It was interesting to see us all pull together to make a meal for everyone, and it actually wasn’t even that difficult. Of course, I love cooking and making tasty beverages for others, so I was happy.
I come to you today with a new recipe, one that features the greatness that is Beyond Meat. Beyond Meat is a new meat substitute that is yet to grace the shelves where I live in Tennessee, though we did receive a sample shipment back in October of which I was grateful to partake. These chicken-free strips are exactly. like. chicken. in almost every way. The texture is on point. Chewing a Beyond Meat strip is like chewing the sinews of a chicken’s flesh. Creepy. The taste of the hot bar sample we received at Whole Foods was not as much like chicken as it was like edamame, but that was clearly the result a cafeteria like setting, complete with heat lamps and little seasoning. And who eats chicken without any seasoning or marinade? Anyway, I enjoyed it so I grabbed a pound of it off the hot bar and took it home to cook it into a recipe.
This recipe is modified from a Rachael Ray episode that I happened to overhear at the YMCA during one of my daily visits. It sounded like it would taste amazing veganized, and I knew Beyond Meat would be the perfect chicken replacement. And, of course, eggplant bacon comes to the rescue as a sub for pig bacon, which is not only unhealthy, but is extremely cruel.
As a one pan meal, this meal leaves easy cleanup. Serve it with a loaf of bread from your local bakery.
Vegan Bacon-Wrapped Rosemary Chicken
1 large eggplant sliced thin lengthwise
1/4 cup tamari
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup olive oil
1 T apple cider vinegar
a few dashes of liquid smoke
1 tsp cumin
Chicken-Free and Beyond
1 lb Beyond Meat Chicken-Free Strips
Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons olive oil
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 cup dry white wine (chardonnay)
1/2 cup no-chicken broth
2 cups crushed tomatoes
1 15-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
5 basil leaves, chopped
Mix all eggplant bacon marinade ingredients together and submerge sliced eggplant. Marinate for at least one hour. The leftover bacon not used for this recipe will be great dehydrated or broiled.
Add fresh rosemary to 1/4 cup olive oil and toss in chicken strips. Then take two to three strips of Beyond Meat (depending on size), wrap them with an eggplant slice, and secure with a toothpick.
If using a stainless steel pan, sprinkle salt over pan at medium high heat and then, once pan is hot, add olive oil and quickly toss in eggplant-wrapped chicken free strips. Cook on each side for 1-2 minutes, lightly browning.
Once all chicken-free strips are cooked, remove them from the pan and add 1 tablespoon more olive oil to the same pan. Toss in celery, carrot, onion, and garlic and cook partially covered until soft, stirring frequently 10-12 minutes. Stir in tomato paste, cook 1 minute then add wine, broth, crushed tomatoes, beans and basil. Set chicken back into pan and simmer 10 minutes more.
**You can definitely use another chicken substitute in this recipe. Gardein would be awesome, and you would just use one Gardein chicken “breast/patty” and maybe wrap it with two eggplant bacon slices as one serving.