In part one of My Vegan Pantry Steven told us a bit about his food background and introduced us to a few vegan basics as well as his storage methods for ingredients and spices. In part two he highlighted four key ingredients and some of their applications, gave suggestions for milk and egg alternatives, and told us how he uses his favourite seeds and nuts. In this final segment Steven talks about seitan, as well as a variety of oils and vinegars. He concludes this series with his own recipe for Overnight Oats.
In the past two years, I have taken an interest in seitan. What is seitan you ask? Well, it is glutenous flour that is spiced and added to a wet mixture to form a dough. Sometimes, depending on the desired texture, the dough may include tofu. The dough is then poached or baked, and when cooked is the most common plant-based meat outside of tofu. You can make everything from a NY striploin steak to a glazed ham, chicken wings to tenderloin – beef-less beef, chicken-less chicken, pork-less pork, etc. The sky is the limit here. I do keep a large jar of gluten flour in-stock for special occasions when I want to recreate some classic meat dishes.
Oils and vinegars
There are three items I had in my pantry where the variety has dramatically increased over my plant-based journey – flour, oil and vinegar. These items now take up a substantial amount of space in my pantry.
The first is flour. Besides all purpose and cake & pastry, I have expanded to almond, gluten, gluten free, arrowroot, amaranth, millet, oat, rye, bread and whole wheat, just to name a few.
In my previous life, I was happy using olive oil for almost everything. But now, my pantry has three types of coconut, as well as olive, avocado, sesame, safflower, sunflower, vegetable, canola, grapeseed and walnut oils. My tried and tested way to get crispy tofu is to press and cube it, then heat 2 tbsp grapeseed oil in a non-stick pan. Once heated, add the tofu cubes and cook for approx. 5 minutes a side – just leave them and don’t stir too much for best results. Once they are cooked, add your favorite sauce and allow the tofu to soak it up. I like adding teriyaki sauce, sweet chili or some sriracha, depending on the meal.
Now you can’t have that much oil without a whole bunch of vinegar, and my pantry does not disappoint. I would say that the most common vinegar used in plant-based cooking is apple cider vinegar, an excellent option in salad dressing and dips, and often used with plant-based milk to give extra flavour to baking and savoury dishes alike. My pantry also includes both white and red wine vinegar, white, malt, rice, mirin, and other sauces like tamari, soy sauce, hoisin, and teriyaki.
I highly recommend making friends with the associates at your local health food store, as they can help you locate those “hard to find” items. Marlene at Georgian Health Foods on King Street in Midland helped me find plant-based versions of Worcestershire and oyster sauce. There is a fantastic variety of plant-based options in their store.
The best thing about my plant-based pantry is that I could likely live off it for a couple of months if I had too. I generally make a trip to the bulk food store once a quarter to refill my stock. I am there more frequently to refill my large flake rolled oats and chia seed supply for my overnight oats recipe below.
Steve’s Overnight Oats
1 cup large flake rolled oats
3 tbsp chia seeds
¼ cup frozen organic fruit (I use blueberry or raspberry)
2 tbsp local, pure maple syrup
½ cup plant-based milk
In a 16-oz mason jar, or dish with a lid, add the rolled oats and the chia seeds. Mix well, top with fruit and maple syrup, and then add the plant-based milk. Stir to combine. Close the jar or put the lid on the container. Place in fridge overnight or for at least 4 hours. Open the jar or lid and serve. Enjoy!
Some people may want to let the oats warm to room temperature outside of the fridge before consuming. They make an easy meal that can be transported to work or the office. Eating these oats will leave you feeling full and satisfied, as they are packed with protein and nutrients for a healthy and vibrant start to your day.