Friday, January 22, 2010

The Conscious Cook Experiment: Part Four

"chicken" salad sandwich and fries

Regular readers know that this month I'll be cooking a bunch of recipes out of Tal Ronnen's new cookbook, The Conscious Cook. At the end of the month I'll be reviewing the book on CBC Radio's In Town and Out. In the meantime, I'm posting about the recipes here.

If you've read my other posts about the book you know that I've gone on at length about the complicated nature of most of the recipes. I thought it would be wise to try one of the recipes that didn't require two days of preparation. In fact, I wanted to try one of the recipes in the book that would come together quickly and see if it tasted as good as the ones that took hours and hours of careful steps.

The verdict? Well, that depends on whose mouth you ask.

"chicken" salad

The recipe I chose was the California Gardein "Chicken" Salad. I should mention that Gardein is a name-brand fake meat, developed by Ronnen himself and necessary for many of the recipes in the book. Gardein is not something I would buy on a regular basis because I tend to avoid processed fake meats in favour of more basic ingredients and foods I make from scratch at home. And also, unless I'm missing something, Gardein doesn't use organic soy, and eating non-organic soy freaks me out.

Anyway, for the sake of reviewing the cookbook I got myself a box of Gardein "chicken" cutlets and got to work on this California "chicken" salad. It took almost no time to make, largely because the ingredients were either quick to chop up (celery, walnuts) or prepared (Gardein fake meat, vegan mayonnaise). I toasted some bread and slapped a large quantity of the salad in between two slices. A side of shoestring oven fries rounded out the meal.

My verdict? Kind of mushy and weird.

The Man of Science's verdict? Amazingly delicious.

When we discussed it further we discovered that in our long ago meat eating days, he loved these kinds of sandwiches and I really didn't like them at all. I am a texture person, and I do not like mushy food. I was never a chicken salad/egg salad/tuna salad sandwich kind of girl. So it stands to reason that I did not like the vegan version of the same kind of food. But the MoS thought it was great and even got over his no-fruit-in-savory-food prejudice and declared that the grapes in this did not bother him. So I may make it again some time for him.

Some of you might remember that I made another vegan "chicken" salad last year when I attempted to veganize Julia Child's chicken salad. I liked that recipe much better, it was less mushy and goopy. Just my opinion. Like I said, the opinion of the blogger is not necessarily representative of the rest of the household.

This month of cooking is winding down now and I have really enjoyed trying all of these new recipes. I'll give my final verdict on the air on January 30th and then it will be time to go back to the easy, tasty recipes I've become accustomed to.



Lynn said...

Unfortunately we'll be out of town next weekend, so I'm going to miss out on your CBC interview. Please link to it if you can!

I'd love to hear more about where you buy all these odd ingredients. Not that I'm going to run out and buy fake meat or anything :).

VeganLisa said...

I've really enjoyed following your experiment. I posted my review of the Conscious Cook today. There are still so many tempting recipes to try.

Enjoy the last of week of cooking with Tal. I look forward to seeing the other recipes you try.

katie said...

I love this cookbook! For this recipe, you could also try substituting chicken-less strips from Morning Star or Trader Joes. I think the gardein item you used needs to be cooked first (to firm it up) and then cool it for best use in a cold salad.

J. said...

Lynn: hopefully there will be a link. You can also listen online from iTunes if you get the chance.

VL: I'll read your review today. Looking forward to it.

Katie: We don't actually have Trader Joes in Canada, but I'm sure any kind of fake chicken would be fine in this recipe. I did cook the Gardein chicken in the oven as per package directions before I added it. I think you're right, you wouldn't want to add it "raw".