One of the hardest things for me, is that all of the pre-made vegan crumbles (Boca, Morningstar, etc.) are soy and gluten based. I like having some non-bean texture in my tacos, and something other than “just veggies” on a pizza or pasta dish. This recipe is adapted from the recipe “Walnut Wheat Crumbles” in the cookbook “Tasty Vegan Delights.” It works equally well with millet or quinoa, though millet takes longer to cook initially, and I like the flavor of quinoa better, as well as it being a complete protein.
This recipe doubles easily (and if you have room for more pans in your oven, could be multiplied even more, though I can only fit a double recipe in my vita-mix at a time.) It’s a good recipe to start in the morning on a day when you’ll be home most of the time, and won’t need the oven for anything else. I usually start it around lunch time, and stir the crumbles in the oven every hour or so, until I go to bed, then I turn off the oven and leave the pans in overnight. By morning they are done!
- 1 cup walnut or pecan pieces, or meal (meal is less expensive, and we’ll be pulverizing it anyway, but I usually get walnut pieces)
- 4 1/2 cups of water (divided into 1 cup, 1 cup, and 2 1/2 cups)
- 1/4 cup onion powder
- 3t garlic powder
- 1t salt (I use sea salt that still has the minerals in it for better nutrition and flavor)
- 2 cups quinoa (or millet)
- In your vita-mix combine the nuts and 1 cup of water, and blend on high until smooth.
- Add another 1 cup of water, and the onion powder, garlic powder, and salt, and blend to combine.
- Pour the mixture into a pot (a single recipe needs about a 3 quart pan, and if you double it, keep in mind it does foam, and it does expand, so make sure your pot is big enough!
- Add the last 2 1/2 cups of water, and bring the mixture to a boil.
- Add the quinoa or millet and cook until most of the water is absorbed. (When it starts to look like a porridge or oatmeal consistency.) Quinoa took about 20 minutes for me, and the millet took a lot longer.
- Remove the mash from the heat, and let it cool for a while (about 1/2 an hour or so) and it will thicken more
- Divide the mixture into a couple of pans: Cookie sheets with a lip edge work well, but large (9″x13″ or so) casserole dishes work too. If you have only smaller pans, us more of them. You don’t want the mixture to be too deep in each pan.
- Put the pans in the oven at 200*
- Stir every hour our so, flaking and fluffing the crumbles as they dry. If you have pans on multiple racks you’ll want to rotate them as well (move the ones from the bottom to the top, and vice versa.) Do this for about 6 or 7 hours. They should really be getting darker brown and crunchy.
- Turn the oven off, leave the door closed, and go to sleep. In the morning, you’ll have perfect crumbles. Divide them into freezer bags, and freeze them.
- A single batch makes enough for the equivalent of 2# of “browned ground beef.”
I prefer them to have a bit of crunch, so I don’t add a lot of liquid back to them. If you use them in a recipe that has liquid already (like chili) there’s no need to reconstitute them at all. I recommend adding them towards the end of the cooking time.
If you want to reconstitute them (say for sloppy joes or tacos):
- Put 2 cups of crumbles into a small pot.
- Choose a liquid you’d like to use (water is fine, but for more flavor you might want to use broth or soup. For tacos I use salsa!) You’ll need up to 2 cups of this liquid.
- Add the liquid a little bit at a time, stirring it in.
- When the crumbles are the consistency you like, stop adding liquid, and use them in your recipe!
I use them crunchy in “nacho” type dishes, stir them into chili just before serving, or mix them into homemade tomato sauce the last minute or so of cooking.
This recipe could easily have other seasonings put in from the beginning, if you know you’re going to use it for a specific type of dish. I think if I found a “smoke” flavor that was safe for me to eat, adding that would make these work as a “bacon bit” type crunchy topping for baked potatoes or salads. I do that with them as they are anyway. Let me know your favorite ways to use these crumbles, or your favorite variations. Enjoy!