Thursday, May 3, 2012


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The stew is pictured here with a vegan corn "spoonbread" because I was testing that recipe the same day and wanted to use it up.  It should be served with rice-- though it was delicious with the "spoonbread", which I will blog about in a few days. UPDATE: Spoonbread recipes here.

I've been meaning to "veganize" this type of stew for a long time, but finally having our own rhubarb plant and cutting the first stalks got me fired up to go for it.  In addition, I'm on the look-out for savory rhubarb recipes, to avoid all that sugar that's in most rhubarb recipes.  

Rhubarb, which can be traced back to 2700 BC in China (where it was used for medicinal purposes) is used in this type of stew in Persian (Iranian/Iraqi) cooking, and is also used in a few interesting Indian lentil and chickpea curries.  It was also a favorite medicinal with early Arab and Persian physicians. "As early as 114 B.C., caravans carried the dried rhizomes eastward over the high mountains to Bokhara in central Asia, whence they found their way to Europe by way of the Black Sea. Dioscorides and Pliny wrote of rhubarb in the first century A.D. In later centuries, Arabs conducted a busy trade in rhubarb by way of Persia and other parts of the Mideast." Source:

So far, I've only  found this type of Persian stew using rhubarb-- if you know of any other Persian recipes using rhubarb, please share.  I have found some Arabic sherbet recipes using rhubarb, and those shouldn't be too sweet.

This recipe is a simple version of what can be a complicated dish. It sounds odd, but the rhubarb lends a fresh, almost lemony flavor and also thickens the stew, and the mint, though plentiful, does not overwhelm, but complements the other flavors. We were very taken with this dish, so  I hope you'll give it a try while rhubarb is abundant.

Printable Recipe

Servings: 4
Because the soy protein or seitan is so low in calories and fat, you can get away with adding some olive oil and vegan buttery spread for richness and still have a very low-calorie meal. NOTE: To reconstitute textured soy/vegetable protein chunks, simmer them for about 15 minutes in a tasty (rather strong)  vegan broth, using about 2 cups broth per 1 cup chunks.  Drain well.

1 tablespoon    olive oil  
5 cups    (loosely packed) reconstituted textured soy protein chunks (5.5 oz./156 g dry) (also called textured vegetable protein, TVP or TSP)  
   (Or you can use seitan chunks instead, or Soy Curls 
2 large    onions, halved and sliced  
4 cups    vegetarian broth (I prefer a rich broth, such as Better Than Bouillon No-Chicken Vegan Broth Base.)
2 teaspoons    ground coriander  
1/2 teaspoon    turmeric  
2 tablespoons    vegan buttery spread, divided (try my homemade palm-oil-free vegan buttery spread)
1 bunch    fresh mint, stripped from stalks and chopped  
1 bunch    green onions (green only), chopped  
5 medium stalks    rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 3/4" lengths  
2 tablespoons    light agave nectar  
   freshly-ground black pepper

Note: Make sure that your textured soy protein or seitan chunks are well drained.

Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick, cast iron or hard-anodized aluminum skillet, stir-fry pan or sauté pan over high heat.  As soon as the oil is hot, swirl the pan to coat the bottom and add the drained soy protein or seitan chunks.  Turn the heat to medium-high and stir-fry until the chunks have browned a bit. Remove them to a plate. 

Add the onions to the same pan and steam-fry until softened.  (To steam-fry, stir-cook over high to medium-high heat, adding a squirt of water as needed to keep the onions from sticking.)  An alternative method is to place the onions in a microwave-safe casserole or pie plate sprayed with oil from a pump-sprayer and sprinkle with salt.  Cover and microwave at full power for about 10 minutes. Set aside.

Melt 1 tablespoon of the vegan buttery spread in a medium nonstick, cast iron or hard-anodized aluminum skillet, stir-fry pan or sauté pan over medium-high heat.  Add the chopped mint and green onions and stir-fry for about 5 minutes, or until they have softened.  Clean out the pan.

Combine the broth, browned soy protein or seitan chunks, softened onions and sautéed mint and green onion in a  heavy pot.  Add the coriander and turmeric.  Bring to a boil, then turn down to a high simmer and cook, uncovered, for about 30 minutes, checking often to make sure it doesn’t stick.

While the stew simmers, melt the 2nd tablespoon of buttery spread over medium-high heat in the same pan that you used for the mint. Add the rhubarb and sauté for a few minutes, just until it softens, but don’t let it get mushy.

After 30 minutes, the broth will have cooked down somewhat. Stir the rhubarb into the stew,   along with the agave nectar and freshly-ground pepper to taste.

Serve the stew with steamed basmati rice.

 Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving): 259.4 calories; 29% calories from fat; 9.0g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 744.8mg sodium; 1247.8mg potassium; 30.7g carbohydrates; 5.8g fiber; 8.7g sugar; 24.9g net carbs; 23.6g protein; 5.1 points. 



Lily Winter said...

Bryanna, sometime in the last century, Barbara Gibbons published a low sugar cookbook with a recipe for cooking rhubarb with 1/4 t baking soda. I think I can lay my hands on the recipe. Neutralizes the acid without just sugar loading.

Take care, Lily Winter

Unknown said...

Wow, this recipe has got me seriously curious - I love rhubarb in sweet desserts - but this is so different to me. Would love to try it with some of the rhubarb we have in our backyard! :)

Sunday Driver said...

In 2000 U of Alberta published a book (Vitt and Hickman) on Rhubarb. Out of 150 recipes, I recall less than a handful being savory. My rhubarb plant just kicks it out all summer. I try to limit sugar in my diet as well and look forward to trying this and any further recipes you may share. Thanks. (My favorite use for rhubarb is in making Indian-style chutney; the tartness and astringency are great, but this still contains more sugar than I'd like to eat habitually.)

Anonymous said...

Made this tonight in the crockpot!! So easy and delicious. I love rhubarb, and was delighted to find a savory application!