It really is fascinating how your views of the world around you change when you become vegan.When you realize that you are living, breathing, happy, healthy, and thriving without participating in the mass cruelty and slaughter of billions of animals every year, it really makes you step back and consider everything you used to take for granted.
I think holidays become particularly poignant. When we are "thankful" we order the slaughter of turkeys. For Christmas, we celebrate "joy" and "peace on earth" by slaughtering more animals for a "special" meal. For me, and I believe many other vegans, sitting down to every meatless meal becomes an exercise in thoughtfulness. When you take the time to consider carefully how your actions, especially eating, impact the world and those you share it with, every meal becomes a celebration of joy, peace, and thanks. It seems so incongruous then that during holidays where these traits are proclaimed as the order of the day, so many feast on the body of an animal that was denied joy, peace, and a life to be thankful for.
While I feel strongly about these other holidays, I find Easter the most difficult to swallow. It really is a celebration of life and rebirth. The concept of participating in a culture of death, with a lamb or pig on the table, to celebrate this holiday to me is quite literally heartbreaking. If we want to celebrate life, then we should let others live! We will thrive and find not only a better life for the animals, but a more rewarding life ourselves when we truly let compassion and empathy guide our choices.
So, in light of that, here is a great vegan alternative for Easter dinner!
Hearty, filling, herby, lemony, crunchy seitan. This main dish is great served along side my roasted veggies and lemon aioli (pictured). You could also add some rainbow chard or beet greens sauteed with garlic, onion, balsamic vinegar, and a bit of soy sauce. Mmmm.... One note. Don't try to be healthy here and bake the seitan. I tried that originally, and the seitan becomes too tough! If you really want to try bake it, I recommend using my boiled seitan recipe, which responds better to being baked a second time. The only thing is you won't have pretty little medallions, but I'm sure it will still taste good!
Here's to spring! I hope that flowers are blossoming and birds are singing wherever you are!
Walnut Herb Crusted Seitan
Serves: 6 for a normal dinner, 4 for a feast
Time: 30 minutes
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 this seitan recipe (or 1 pound of seitan), sliced into 3/4 inch medallions
1/3 cup white wine
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
1/3 cup tahini
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 1/2 cups walnuts
4 cloves garlic
1/2 cup fresh thyme, sage, and/or rosemary (I bought the "poultry blend" of fresh herbs, but you can use any combination of these herbs)
Heat olive oil in a large nonstick or cast iron pan on medium-high heat.
In a large bowl, combine the white wine, nutritional yeast, tahini, and Dijon mustard. Toss in the seitan medallions, and stir to coat.
In a food processor, pulse the walnuts, garlic, and herbs until combined and finely ground (don't make walnut butter though!). Transfer the mixture to a large freezer bag. Add the seitan, seal the bag, and shake until the seitan is evenly coated with the walnut mixture.
Place the medallions in the skillet, leaving enough room in between to turn individually (also if you overload the pan, the temperature will decrease and you won't get as nice browning and it will take longer). Once golden brown on one side, about 4 minutes, flip and brown the other side for about 3 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel to sop up extra oil. Fry all the medallions.
Serve with roasted veggies and lemon aioli (pictured), sauteed rainbow chard, and/or crispy bread.