Even though I’m not a vegan myself, I have a handful of friends who are. It’s pretty tempting for me to want to put cheese in just about every entree I make (and let’s face it – I did eat this with rosemary cheese toast), but I make quite a few dishes that would be vegan without my usual cheese garnish or spoonful of cream at the end. As it stands I rarely keep regular milk in the fridge so most of my recipes use unsweetened almond milk. The same goes for eggs – aside from the Baked NYC Brownies I made, pretty much every dessert you’ll find on this blog is egg-free. When I met Jah he didn’t eat anything with eggs in it so I got into the habit of cooking that way. Even though his dietary restrictions have changed over time, those habits have stuck. And hey – that means I get to eat globs of raw cookie dough without worrying about salmonella. That’s a huge win for me!
Last night I knew I wanted to whip together something delicious and vegan, and I started toying around with the idea of recreating a traditional comfort food meal that some people might get a little homesick for after giving up meat for years. I remembered I used to love eating pot roast that had been stewing away in the slow cooker all day with onions, potatoes, and carrots. In particular that rich thick stock was like liquid gold to me. The more I thought about it the more I knew I wanted to give that style of recipe a tasty vegan makeover, but with a unique twist to make it more my own. Originally I thought I would use a red wine in the base (which I still think would be excellent if you want to sub it in) but eventually settled on using Guinness. At the time, seeing as I’m not a beer drinker, I had no idea that Guinness wasn’t vegan… or even vegetarian. With the help of barnivore.com I tracked down Dark Truth Stout, which uses seaweed instead of fish in their processing so it’s totally vegan.
I had a package of vegan friendly beef strips from Trader Joe’s in the fridge that I had been eager to try. They provide a bit of added protein and texture to the stew but they don’t pack a lot of flavor on their own. For this reason I think that you could probably leave it out and still have a great meal on your hands. I know that in some areas meat alternatives are difficult to come by. The caramelized garlic and onions simmered down with chunks of root vegetables and fresh rosemary is hard to beat. In the end I felt like this stew was a huge success. It captured the comforting feeling I was going for while having that little something extra from the stout. So here is the first major shout-out to my vegan peeps! Enjoy!
- 1/2 cup pearl onions, peeled
- 7-8 garlic cloves, sliced
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (soy sauce or tamari if you don’t have it)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 container Trade Joe’s Beef-less Strips
- 4oz shiitake mushrooms (stems removed and torn into bite-sized pieces)
- 1 bottle Dark Truth Stout
- 3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
- 3 cups potatoes, cubed (I used a mix of yukon gold and purple potatoes)
- 2 stalks celery, sliced
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced
- 2 teaspoons fresh black pepper
- 1 bay leaf
- 6 cups vegan stock (I used a combination of “Not-Beef” bouillon and a mushroom stock)
- 2 tablespoons corn starch (dissolved in a small amount of water)
- In a large skillet heat your olive oil and add the pearl onions, garlic, sugar, and salt. Cover and allow to cook for 7-8 minutes. Deglaze the pan with a couple of tablespoons of the stout and let cook over medium heat while you prepare the next part.
- On a different burner fill a pot with your stock, remaining vegetables (non the shiitakes), tomato paste, rosemary, bay leaf, black pepper, and corn starch. Turn heat to medium high and allow to come to a simmer.
- The onions and garlic should be caramelizing pretty nicely at this point, so go ahead and add in your Bragg’s, the beef-less strips, and your mushrooms. If things are sticking to the bottom of the pan just deglaze again with a little more stout. Stir well and cover for 5-7 minutes.
- When your stew pot is boiling dump in everything from the skillet along with the remaining stout from the bottle. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes. Uncover and simmer for another 20.
- The stout introduces a strong flavor to this hearty soup. If you have any reservations you can try reducing the amount to 1/2 a bottle.