Swapping Out Stew Ingredients

vegan red bean stew

I found these pictures on my camera a while back while pulling photos for another post.  I rarely forget cooking something, but for some reason, this particular recipe slipped my mind.

It’s a shame, too, because it’s really quite good.  It’s a basic, straightforward stew recipe from Robin Robertson’s Vegetarian Meat and Potatoes Cookbook, meant to be made with chunks of seitan.  I happened to be out of seitan at the time I whipped this up for dinner, so I substituted red beans.

I’ve swapped red beans for seitan before and, while it obviously doesn’t taste the same, it seems to work pretty well.  Red beans are hearty and have a richer flavor than, say, white beans, and they popped up as a meat substitute fairly often in the recipes I tried during my early days of dabbling in vegetarianism.  Refried beans, red bean burgers, the works.

red bean stew closeup
The other ingredients meshed well with the beans, too.  Bell peppers and onions, diced tomatoes and green beans…all pretty standard stew stuff, and all a good fit for either beans or seitan.  There was also some vegetable stock mixed with a little flour to make a gravy-like sauce for the dish.  (I like using spelt flour in stews.)

I’ve since tried the recipe with seitan and I have to say, I think I actually prefer it with beans!  The seitan makes it more “meaty,” but the beans soak up more of the seasonings.  I also felt that the beans went better over noodles, which is the suggested accompaniment to this particular recipe.  Like most stews, it’s hearty and warming and tastes good with a generous dose of strong black pepper.

red bean stew meal
(As an aside, the first time I made this, I served it over quinoa pasta that came in my monthly Tasterie box.  I can’t remember the brand, but it was pretty darn tasty!  A nice chance from wheat-based pasta, especially if you’re going to be serving something that’s already a bit wheat-heavy.)

What are your favorite ingredient substitutions?  Were they deliberate or done out of necessity?

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