I received zucchini and summer squash in my produce box once again, for what seems like the millionth time. I’m not complaining, really… I just am having to start cooking outside my comfort zone in order to keep things new and interesting.
I have never cooked or even tasted Egyptian food before, but when I found this recipe for Rustic Zucchini Tian on one of my favorite blogs, Feasting at Home, I just had to give it a try. I love Middle Eastern and Moroccan Cuisine, and since this dish incorporated many of the same flavors it sounded wonderful. I wasn’t sure how to complete the meal so I turned to my trusty cooking companion, Google. One of the first replies to my Egyptian cuisine query was kebab halla. Kebab halla is basically chunks of meat, stewed in a spicy broth. It sounded like something that would go perfectly with the tian, but is wasn’t remotely vegan.
I decided to be a little crazy, and try using my vegan steak for kebab halla. I had to tweak the recipes I found considerably, but the end result was rather fantastic. The juicy, tender seitan steak has a rich flavor that is sharply punctuated by lots of garlic and a surprising note of cinnamon. Grilling these provides the best result, as a slight hint of smoke finishes up the rustic elements of the meal perfectly.
I served the kebabs over a bed of trusty couscous. As far as I am concerned, you can never go wrong with couscous. I used large pearl couscous, but the smaller grain variety would work great too. I kept the flavor of the couscous simple since there was so much going on with the rest of the meal. The Rustic Zucchini Tian has a flavor profile that is just about as complicated as the kebab halla, but all the spices come together beautifully.
Speaking of spices, there is a lot of fresh garlic in this meal! If you are freaking out about peeling all that garlic, however, do not despair! I recently found a really incredible method to peel garlic insanely quickly. You simply crush the whole head of garlic with the palm of your hand to separate the cloves, put all the cloves in a metal bowl, and then put another bowl upside down on top of the first bowl. (I don’t have two metal bowls that are the same size, so I used a metal pot with a lid, and this method still worked). You then press the bowls together, and shake them really hard for a couple minutes. When you open it up, the garlic will be peeled. I don’t know how or why it works, so if anybody can enlighten me I would really appreciate it! Here is the video I learned this method from, and below is a picture of my lovely peeled garlic, just to prove I am not making this up. 😉
Kebab Halla with Rustic Zucchini Tian
Kebab Halla (Seitan)
1 recipe steak style seitan dough, prepared up to the point where the dough is kneaded
½ cup cool, filtered water
½ teaspoon cinnamon
7 garlic cloves, minced
Ground black pepper
- After the dough has been kneaded until it forms strands, turn the dough out onto a large cutting board. Using your hands or a rolling pin, form the dough into a circle, about an inch thick. Using a very sharp knife, cut the dough into cubes (1”x1” in size).
- Place the cubed seitan in the bottom of a slow-cooker. Try to place them in a single layer (it’s ok if some of them get slightly squished, they will all turn out about the same size when they are cooked regardless).
- In a small mixing bowl, combine the water, cinnamon and garlic. Pour the mixture over the seitan cubes.
- Liberally sprinkle about 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper over the seitan.
- Cover and cook on low for 4 hours.
- Allow to cool completely. It may appear that the cubes have cooked together, but don’t worry. They will easily break apart if you stir them with a mixing spoon while they are still warm.
- Place the cooled seitan cubes in an airtight container. Refrigerate overnight, or up to 3 days before using (alternatively, you may freeze them for up to 2 months).
- If the seitan has been frozen, thaw it completely.
- Soak several wooden skewers in water for about 20 minutes (this will help keep them from burning on the grill)
- Place about 6 cubes of seitan steak on each skewer.
- Brush the steak liberally with melted vegan butter (such as Earth Balance).
- Place the kebobs on a preheated grill and cook until the steak begins to sizzle and brown (about 7 minutes), turning the kebabs frequently. Be careful, as seitan burns easily.
Serve with couscous and Rustic Zucchini Tian.
Great recipe and tips; we’ll have to try it! Haha- not sure about the garlic, but it was fun to watch! We’ve found that if you need to peel just one clove in a hurry (and want to avoid garlic fingers!), just press it between the flat side of a large knife and your chopping board! 🙂
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Thanks 😀 the “shake” method doesn’t work so well for just one or two cloves, so this is a great tip!
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