Monday, April 25, 2011

Meatless Monday: How We Dined on Earth Day Eve

Happy Monday.

This meal tastes even better than it appears.
I took my own advice on Earth Day Eve. A sister and niece were in town and we celebrated with a special dinner. Since they were family, I was bold enough to experiment. 

The centerpiece of the meal was a Field Roast from the Original Field Roast Grain Meat Co. in Seattle — more specifically, the Stuffed Celebration Roast. This beautiful roast — filled at the center with a stuffing of butternut squash, apples and mushrooms — had caught my eye at Whole Foods. According to the Field Roast site, the history of “grain meat” begins with Mien Ching, a protein-rich substance, discovered by Buddhist monks in 7th century China who were on a quest for vegetarian meat. This evolved into Seitan in Japan, and finally, with the addition of European flavors, into Field Roast, as developed by Seattle chef David Lee in 1997.

The Celebration Roast carves like a meat roast, is high in protein, and has a delicious flavor. My omnivore husband even said, “I don’t miss the meat.” The company makes a variety of products including “Classic Meatloaf” and sausages. You can watch a video about “Meat Made with Wheat” here, or one of sanctuary chimps enjoying a feast here.  Field Roast has even appeared on the Ellen Degeneres Show. Guess I’m late to the game, but better late than never.

I began my meal prep by roasting parsnips (from Massachusetts) with carrots (from California), coated with olive oil, in my largest cast iron pan at 425°, adding quartered and sliced onions (from New York) and fennel (also from California) 20 minutes later. After 30 minutes total, I pushed the vegetables to the side, put the roast in the center, basted it with vegetable broth, and heated everything for 30 minutes more at 350°.

While the roast was roasting, I finally got around to making the vegan gravy from Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s cookbook Vegan with a Vengeance for which my friend Cher had sent me the recipe back in February. What took me so long? Every time I had thought of making it, I had discovered yet another missing ingredient. I always have on hand Punk Rock Chickpea Gravy’s requisite garbanzo beans, paprika, rosemary, thyme, and oregano. But I had to remember to shop for mustard seeds, ground cumin, ground coriander, and nutritional yeast. Once I had everything, the recipe was easy. It may not be much to to look at, particularly with the intentional lumps, but the flavor is fantastic, particularly on top of homemade mashed potatoes. 

Rounding out our Earth Day Eve meal was some fairly local cranberry apple sauce  (made with the last of my apples from Bishop’s Orchards in Guilford and a bag of Cape Cod cranberries from the freezer) and some microwaved frozen green beans.

Here is where I failed big-time. This part of the feast had the biggest carbon footprint of all. I had purchased Stop & Shop Nature’s Promise organic frozen green beans without reading the label. They came all the way from China! Who knew? Mea culpa. For penance I think a boycott and letter-writing campaign are in order.

I hope this post has inspired you to try something new. Have a great week. And please come back soon for more food news and culinary adventures.

I try to blog on food or food issues each Monday in support of Meatless Monday, one of several programs developed in the Healthy Monday project, founded in 2003 in association with Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Communications. Meatless Monday’s goal is “to help reduce meat consumption 15% in order to improve personal health and the health of our planet.”


  1. So far, the Field Roast has been our favorite holiday choice too. We've tried Tofurky (Thanksgiving 2010) and Field Roast (Christmas 2010) but prefer the latter.

    Besides making a most excellent center dish of the festivities, a left-over sandwich using Field Roast is amazing, truly amazing!

    Mmm... You're making me wish to run to our favorite vegetarian market and grab a Field Roast.

    Thanks for sharing your story!

  2. I'm with you, Chucky. Field Roast is the clear winner over Tofurky. I'll have to save some for a sandwich next time. Thanks for the tip