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Spork Foods wishes you a very vegan Thanksgiving

Seitan WellingtonLast year I wrote about two sisters who founded a vegan cooking company called Spork Foods. Enthusiastic, vivacious and extremely knowledgeable when it comes to eating vegan, Heather Goldberg and Jenny Engel have just released their first cookbook, "Spork-Fed."

Between promoting the new book, teaching their cooking classes, filming their online classes and giving in-home healthy-eating consultations, the sisters are short on time. But they still managed to take a moment to share two of their favorite holiday recipes with us. One is for seitan Wellington with creamy spinach sauce; the other is for pumpkin cheesecake.

I tried the Wellington when I attended one of their cooking classes last year. It was savory and delicious, with mushrooms, onions and red wine adding earthy flavor. The advantage of eating a meal like this as opposed to a traditional Thanksgiving turkey is that you don't feel as heavy afterward. 

Also, many families have at least one vegan, and it's nice to have a festive option instead of just a medley of veggie sides. I once had a vegan boyfriend, and when he came home with me for Thanksgiving, my mother was kind enough to make a variety of vegan dishes for him, which really made the difference in his experience that day.

So in the name of Thanksgiving options we give you these Spork Foods recipes after the jump. (Note: These recipes have not been tested in The Times' Test Kitchen.)

ALSO:

The L.A. Times' holiday cooke bake-off is off to the races.

Gifts for the analog cook!

Holiday recipes from the L.A. Times' Test Kitchen

-- Jessica Gelt

Seitan Wellington with a creamy spinach sauce

This has become our Thanksgiving go-to dish! Though we love experimenting in the kitchen and coming up with new, creative recipes, we think Thanksgiving is a time to bust out your tried and true standbys. After all, you’re probably facing some skeptics, and you don’t want anyone to think that all vegans eat for T-givs is side dishes! Of course, this dish is elegant and can be served any time of year, so whenever you feel like creating something special, give this recipe a shot.
Yields two small or one large Wellington. Serves six to eight.

Mushroom filling ingredients

1 tablespoon non-dairy butter
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
4 cups crimini mushrooms, finely chopped
2 large shallots, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 sprigs fresh thyme, stemmed and finely chopped
2 tablespoons vegan red wine (Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon)
1⁄4 teaspoon sea salt
1⁄4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour

Seitan filling ingredients

2 packages “chicken-style” seitan or 3 cups homemade seitan
4 sprigs fresh thyme, stemmed and finely chopped
2 tablespoons mustard, stone ground or German
2 tablespoons vegan red wine (Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon)
1 tablespoon maple syrup
3⁄4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, plus 1⁄4 cup flour for rolling
Grated zest of 1⁄2 lemon
1⁄2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1⁄2 teaspoon sea salt
1⁄4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
1 package vegan frozen puff pastry sheets, thawed

Creamy spinach sauce ingredients

3 cups baby spinach, packed
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1⁄4 teaspoon sea salt
1⁄4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
1⁄4 cup, plus 1 tablespoon soy milk creamer

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

For the mushroom filling: In a large saute pan, heat butter and olive oil. Add mushrooms, shallots and garlic. Cook over medium heat for about 2 minutes. Add thyme, wine, sea salt, black pepper and flour, and cook an additional 3 to 5 minutes, or until all the liquid has evaporated. Set aside to cool.

For the seitan filling: In a large food processor, combine seitan, thyme, mustard, wine, maple syrup, flour, lemon zest, paprika, sea salt and black pepper. Pulse until uniform, about 20 times, and set aside.

On a lightly floured surface, roll puff pastry out to about 1/2-inch thickness. To make one large Wellington, overlap two sheets by about 1 inch and press them together at seam. Place mushroom filling in center of pastry and spread out, leaving a 1- to 2-inch border on all sides.

Top mushrooms with seitan filling and fold puff pastry border over to form a log shape, completely sealing filling.

If making two small Wellingtons, divide seitan and mushroom filling in half before forming each log shape, and proceed as directed above.

To bake, place one large or two small Wellingtons seam side down on a greased baking sheet with rims. Make a couple of slits in top of pastry with a small knife.

Bake 40 to 45 minutes, until pastry is golden brown. Let cool for 10 minutes before slicing.

For the spinach sauce: Sauté spinach in a large saute pan over low heat with olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, sea salt and black pepper, until wilted. In a blender, combine with soy milk creamer, and purée until smooth.

Serve sliced Wellington warm with spinach sauce.

The Sporkie scoop

For your smarts: Arthur Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington, who helped defeat Napoleon, is credited with the name of this dish. He probably never set foot in the kitch to create this masterpiece -- and we can almost guarantee he had never heard the word "seitan" -- but we adore this recipe. So thank you, Duke!

For your parts: The crimini mushrooms make this dish so much more healthful than the beefy version. Criminis contain a lot of water and are low in calories but taste amazing, yay! They are also high in potassium, which is great for regulating blood pressure.

Cheesecake

Pumpkin cheesecake

Sometimes in spring or summer we wish that it was fall, just so we could make this pumpkin cheesecake! The crust is so gingery and snappy and the filling is so good, you can eat it on its own. Of course you can serve this at any holiday gathering with pride. It is especially handy because you create it in advance, giving you time to be social and explain to your friends and fam why you don’t need cheese in cheesecake. Serves eight to 10.

Crust ingredients:

1 1/2 cups organic vegan gingersnap cookies (about 24 cookies)
1/4 cup almonds
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated
2 tablespoons neutral-tasting oil
1/4 cup brown or palm sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Pumpkin filling ingredients:

2 (8-ounce) containers vegan cream cheese
1/3 cup evaporated cane sugar
1 (15-ounce) can organic pumpkin or pumpkin pie filling
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon whole-wheat pastry flour
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon neutral-tasting oil
1/8 teaspoon sea salt

Crust preparation:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place cookies, almonds, ginger, oil, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla extract and sea salt in a food processor and pulse until uniform, about 20 to 25 times. Mixture should be a crumbly, even consistency that pulls away from the walls of food processor.

Grease a springform pan. Use damp hands to firmly press mixture into pan to form crust. Be sure to evenly distribute mixture and use thumbs to press crust into corners of pan. Bake 7 minutes to help crust stick together.

Filling preparation:

In a food processor, add cream cheese, sugar, pumpkin, cloves, nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, flour, lemon juice, oil and sea salt. Blend until uniform.

Pour filling into baked crust and gently tap mixture on counter to release any trapped bubbles. Bake about 40 minutes or until mixture is slightly browned on top and feels firm when pan is slightly shaken.

Remove from oven and allow cheesecake to cool on counter for at least 20 minutes, then refrigerate for four hours to overnight before serving, to firm up.

The Sporkie scoop:

For your smarts: At some point in your life you may cut into a piece of ginger and see a blue-greenish ring of color inside. Let us congratulate you, you just scored a Hawaiian variety of ginger called (you guessed it) blue-ringed ginger! The flavor and texture are extraordinary. Use it just as you would use any other variety.

For your parts: Pumpkins are good for more than jack-o-lanterns. These winter squashes have been used to treat bronchial asthma, as they help dispel all sorts of nasty things from your lungs and throat.

-- Heather Goldberg and Jenny Engel

Photos: Seitan Wellington, top; pumpkin cheesecake, bottom. Credit: Spork Foods

 
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