May has flown by and was very close to being the first month since I started this blog that I haven’t posted anything. The end of the school year is always busy for us, but because E was graduating, this May was more jam-packed than usual. But all the activity and anticipation came to a crescendo on a cool, sunny day last week when E received her diploma:
I’m so proud of my beautiful blue-haired math genius, and though I know I’m going to be depressed when she leaves for college, I was happy to see the end of a very busy and stressful senior year. In addition to taking 5 AP classes, 2 regular classes, and band, E had to take time out to visit colleges and then make a very tough decision. When she narrowed her choices down to two, she agonized over whether to choose the one that she had enjoyed the most during her visit or the one with the academic program she liked best.
It was a classic heart vs. head choice, but in the end she chose the one with the more compatible curriculum. It didn’t hurt that it has a dining hall that really caters to vegans with a dedicated vegan section and a vegan dessert every day. I don’t think E wants me to make it public exactly where she’ll be, so suffice it to say that in the fall, she’ll be at a great liberal arts college in the Midwest.
One thing my husband D and I have enjoyed during this whole college decision process is checking out each school’s menus online and seeing how vegan-friendly they are. All of the schools that E considered were vegan friendly, but some had more creative menus than others. D was particularly fond of Lawrence University because of the wacky combinations on its Vegan Pizza of the Week (right now it’s vegan Bahn Mi Pizza, which doesn’t sound too far out) and its vegan takes on international dishes. Though E ultimately choose another school, I have Lawrence to thank for introducing me to vegetarian Lomo Saltado. I had never heard of it, so when I saw it on their menu, I turned to Google to educate me. Lomo Saltado is a Peruvian dish that combines strips of beef with fried potatoes in a stir-fry. (“Lomo” means loin and “saltado” means sauté.) It’s a fusion of Chinese and Peruvian dishes that has become part of the mainstream cuisine in Peru.
In my vegan version, I made a very simple substitution of packaged seitan for the traditional tenderloin, and I baked my French fries rather than frying them. Normally, the dish would include yellow peppers called aji amarillo, which are very difficult to find in my neighborhood, so I used one red bell pepper for volume and a jalapeño for heat. It was simple, delicious, and, with the potatoes and brown rice, very filling. We ate it with Sriracha for a little added zing.
Seitan Saltado (Peruvian Stir-Fry with Potatoes)
- 1 pound Russet or Yukon Gold potatoes (about 3 medium)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper , to taste
- 1 pound seitan , sliced (I used two packages of Westsoy brand)
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 cloves garlic , minced or pressed
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
- 1 in large red onion , sliced in wedges
- 1 large bell pepper , seeded and sliced
- 1 jalapeno pepper , seeded and diced (adds heat–reduce if necessary)
- 1 large tomato , chopped
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce or coconut aminos
- 1/4 cup minced parsley
- Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut the potatoes into French fries, whatever size you like. (I used my mandolin to make skinny fries about 1/4-inch thick.) Sprinkle the fries with salt and pepper and spread in a single layer on the baking sheet. Bake, turning every 10-15 minutes, until fries are browning and becoming crispy, about 40 minutes depending on the size of your fries. Keep warm.
- While the fries are cooking, combine the seitan in a large bowl with the cumin, garlic, and a generous grinding of black pepper. Allow to marinate briefly while you prepare the other ingredients.
- When the fries are almost done, heat a large non-stick wok or skillet. Sauté the red onion until it begins to soften, about 2 minutes. Add the bell and jalapeño peppers and cook another two minutes. Add the seitan and chopped tomato and cook, stirring, until hot throughout. Stir in the vinegar and soy sauce and gently fold in the French fries and parsley. Serve alone or over rice with hot sauce on the side.
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