Okay, so I did end up trying out the Viva Vegan! seitan as the base for this ropa vieja dish. I didn’t use her version, but instead adapted a recipe from one of my cuban cookbooks. I’m not the biggest fan of chewy seitan, so I kept my seitan loaves refrigerated for a week before using them for extra firmness.
Also, I’m cuban. My first taste of this dish actually made me want beef for the first time in almost a year. This is a staple cuban cuisine, and I was surprised how much my palette really expected a certain flavor. But I also found that the flavor in this dish was so much better the next day when the seitan had really had time to absorb all the flavors, and then I was really able to enjoy it. (Another idea that tastes amazing, and works really well as a beef analogue for cuban style dinners is to just bake up a batch of Gardein beefless tips like I did here! So tasty and super fast.)
The key to cutting the seitan is to try to get it as close to the texture of shredded beef as possible. So slicing and slivering it very thin (the thinner the better) and somewhat irregularly as possible. My pieces were probably still too big after all that work, so shredding it may be the best option. (Plus, it will probably absorb the flavors better and faster that way!) I used all 4 loaves from the Viva Vegan!’s red seitan recipe to make this dish, and it was a lot. Definitely 6-8 servings. So keep that in mind in case you want to halve it. I served this with brown rice.
Seitan Ropa Veija
4 loaves of Viva Vegan!’s red seitan (or 8 servings worth of another seitan), sliced thinly into irregular length pieces
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 green bell pepper, cut into thin strips
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 14.5 oz. can whole tomatoes, drained and chopped
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1/2 c. cooking sherry
1 tsp. liquid smoke
1 tbsp. vegan worcestershire
2 bay leaves
salt & pepper to taste
1/2 c. pimentos, chopped, as garnish
1/2 c. early sweet peas, as garnish
1. Heat oil over low heat and add onions, peppers and garlic. Cook for about 8 minutes, stirring often. Raise heat to low-medium and add tomatoes, sauce, sherry liquid smoke, worcestershire, bay leaves, and salt & pepper. Simmer for 15 minutes.
2. Add seitan and simmer, covered, for an additional 30 minutes.
3. Remove bay leaves and add pimentos and peas as garnish.
For better flavor, you can make this the day before (up to step 2) and then simmer it over low heat for 30 minutes until it’s heated through, and then proceed with step 3.