Meat and Potatoes Makeover


February 14, 2013 by Meg G.

We got a little carried away with the menu this week, but when Monday night’s meal made it to the table, we weren’t sorry.Table Set

Like many of you, I assume, Heather grew up in a real “meat and potatoes” household. It’s not that I didn’t, but our dinner table was balanced out by our many European heritages (Irish, Italian, German, Welsh, etc.). So, I don’t always crave the meat + potatoes lifestyle. In fact, I almost never think to make mashed potatoes or a veggie side to accompany whatever main dish we’re serving. All that changed when Heather took the menu planning reigns this week.

Monday’s totally vegan menu included chickpea cutlets (think breaded “chicken”), non-mushroom gravy (I’m anti-fungus), roasted carrots, and scallion mashed potatoes. Who says weeknight dinners can’t be elaborate? Okay, maybe you do. If so, keep this in your back pocket for the weekend or your veg Thanksgiving! Here goes!

Chickpea Cutlets – from Isa’s Veganomicon


  • 1 16 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup vital wheat gluten
  • 1 cup plain dry breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth or water
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried sage
  • Olive oil for pan frying
  • 4 cloves garlic, pressed (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest (optional)

Dinner Prep


  1. In a mixing bowl, mash the chickpeas together with the oil until no whole chickpeas are left. Use an avocado masher or a strong fork.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and knead together for about 3 minutes, until strings of gluten have formed. (See Isa’s photo.)
  3. Preheat a large heavy-bottomed skillet over low-medium heat.
  4. Divide the cutlet dough into 2 equal pieces. Then divide each of those pieces into 4 separate pieces (so you’ll have 8 all together). To form cutlets, knead each piece in your hand for a few moments and then flatten and stretch each one into a roughly 6 by 4 inch rectangular cutlet shape. The easiest way to do this is to form a rectangle shape in your hands and then place the cutlets on a clean surface to flatten and stretch them.
  5. Add a moderately thin layer of olive oil to the bottom of the pan. Place the cutlets in the pan and cook on each side for 6 to 7 minutes. Add more oil, if needed, when you flip the cutlets. They’re ready when lightly browned and firm to the touch. Let them rest for a few minutes before serving.

Mashed Chickpeas

Chickpea Cutlet Dough

Chickpea Cutlet (uncooked)

A few Tips from Isa:

“You should only use store-bought breadrumbs unless you plan on tweaking the recipe. I’ve tried homemade breadcrumbs and they come out way to mushy.

I’ve found that they cook more thoroughly if I cover the pan in between flips. I also use my spatula to press down on them while they’re cooking, that way they cook more evenly.

The texture we’re looking for is firm and a bit crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. I find that for the best texture you should let the cutlets rest after cooking for 10 minutes or so before digging in.”

WOW. These were good. We have made Isa’s vegan sausages before, which are remarkably similar in ease and the way that vital wheat gluten magically comes together to form a meat-like texture. These are definitely knife-worthy, but in a soft and chewy on the inside kind of way. And they have a ton of potential for other great meals: I’m thinking “chicken” parmesan, nuggets, salad toppings, etc. Yum!

Vegan Golden Gravy – from Chloe’s Kitchen via The New York Times


  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat and sauté onion until soft. Add nutritional yeast and flour, and stir for about 1 minute.
  2. Add water, soy sauce, thyme and garlic powder. Continue to cook, whisking continuously, until mixture is very thick.
  3. Transfer gravy to a blender and purée until smooth. Adjust seasonings, and add salt and pepper to taste.

Vegan Gravy

This recipe yields 6-8 servings, so we halved it. We probably could have quartered it, since we opted to freeze 4 of the uncooked cutlets (between sheets of parchment; hopefully they freeze nicely).

The gravy was very flavorful, but the consistency was thick and lumpy, as you can see. It might have been because we used an immersion blender to purée it, a trick that really doesn’t do well when you’re working with a swallow pan and a small amount of liquid. Luckily, I don’t consider lumpy gravy a disgrace to the plate. ; )

Carrots and Potatoes

Paired with some neon green scallion mashed potatoes and dill roasted carrots, this meal was hearty, full of flavor, and well-balanced. Sure, it meant we had three burners and the oven going simultaneously and definitely required four hands in the kitchen, but I couldn’t think of a better way to spend a Monday night.

Chickpea Cutlets with Sides


4 thoughts on “Meat and Potatoes Makeover

  1. I love chickpea cutlets! I’ve actually never fried them. I bake up a double or triple batch, and then freeze a portion. I haven’t made them in a while. Thanks for putting them back on the list!

  2. Jessica says:

    Nice work, Heather! I’m particularly interested in the cutlets. Any possibilities for subbing the vital wheat gluten, since I don’t even know what that is, let alone where to find it?

    • Meg G. says:

      Hmmm. I’d read the comment section of the original post for a substitute. But I’m not sure it is really sub-able in terms of texture. You can find vital wheat gluten in several grocery stores. Bob’s makes it as does Arrowhead.

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