Tami Noyes ~ This Valentine’s Day I’m feeling a little conflicted. I have this urge to watch Love Actually and have had Love is All Around Us (thank you, Bill Nighy) running through my head for days. But we always watch that movie on Christmas Day which means it’s just too recent to rationalize watching it again. So how to get my tradition fix? By making the same dish I’ve made a variation of the last few Valentines’ days and occasionally in between. It’s easy, delicious and one of those dishes that tastes complex without being complicated. The sauce has a solid base thanks to the tomato juice, red wine and chocolate chips. The minced vegetables and fresh herbs give it outstanding flavor and showcase the seitan. And the puff pastry? It makes this dish even more elegant.
When we think of Valentine’s Day most of us conjure images of flowers (make mine daisies, please), candlelight, wine, and an intimate dinner that finds us with little puffy hearts swirling around our heads in happiness while our real hearts pitter patter. This recipe has most of that and it’s the perfect dinner for a romantic evening. Well, it’s got the wine and chocolate. It’s up to you to supply the rest.
I give to you: Seitan of Love. Don’t forget the flowers! …
Le Seitan de l’Amour
Thaw pastry according to package directions. When thawed, preheat oven to 400 degrees F. On a lightly floured surface, roll pastry dough to remove any cracks from the folds. Using a 4-inch heart cookie cutter (or freehand) cut 4 hearts. (You will have leftover dough. It’s fun to cut smaller hearts to decorate the plate, if you want.) Transfer the hearts to the baking sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until nicely golden. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool. When cool, gently split the tops from the bottoms.
In a large cast iron skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the seitan cubes and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 5 minutes. Remove from the skillet and set aside. Remove the skillet from the heat. Reduce heat to medium. Add the margarine, shallots, carrots and celery to the skillet. Return to heat, and cook about 3 minutes, until fragrant. Add the mushrooms, flour, salt and pepper and cook another 3 minutes to cook flour. Add the reserved seitan, wine, tomato juice, chips, parsley and thyme. Cook, stirring, about 10 minutes to blend flavors. If the mixture is too thick, add an additional tablespoon or two of tomato juice. Taste and adjust seasonings.
Place 1/4 of the mixture on the bottom of each pastry heart, placing the top of the heart on top. Serve with vegetables on the side. In our case, we had grilled cauliflower slices and sautéed greens with red peppers.
Note: 1 tablespoon chocolate chips give a subtle richness to the mixture, but two gives a more pronounced chocolate flavor. The choice is yours.
Serves 2 (It’s Valentine’s Day!)
Article, recipe, and photo by Tamasin Noyes, author of American Vegan Kitchen. Tami's cookbook covers everything from diner comfort foods to modern bistro fare, with a solid focus on flavor. For even more of her recipes, you can visit Tami at her blog Vegan Appetite.