David Lee founded Field Roast after he discovered the Asian tradition of using wheat for protein. What we know today as seitan is known as mein ching, or Buddha’s food in Asia, and it has been around for hundreds of years. David was also inspired the European charcuterie tradition. Field Roast products are a blend of the two customs. I met David about 25 years ago, when he offered his training kitchen to the visiting chefs who were going to be teaching vegan cooking classes at what was the Earthsave Seattle. I was among the chefs, and felt such gratitude towards David, not only for the kitchen, but for the daily purpose of the kitchen.
David is a long-time supporter of animal rights causes and organizations working to end farm animal suffering. In 2011, his work culminated in two humanitarian awards: Farm Sanctuary’s Corporate Leader in Compassion Award and the James Beard Foundation’s Humanitarian of the Year Award, given to FareStart and accepted by David on behalf of the organization.
In the late 1980’s, Chef David Lee decided it was time to change his path and do something good for people. He left the fine dining restaurant circuit to establish Seattle-based FareStart (originally named Common Meals), a culinary job training program with the mission of serving and supporting the city’s homeless and disadvantaged populations. His innovative approach involved cooking nutritious, culturally authentic and familiar foods for those in need.
While he grew FareStart into a highly successful nonprofit, David launched FoodCircle, which was the first and longest running online community of professional chefs and cooks from around the world. The world goes round, right?, and so while I hadn’t seen David since the 80’s, when I found myself going back to Seattle a few years ago to present at the Northwest Chocolate Show, David sent me a message asking if I’d like to use the test kitchen at the new Field Roast facility in Seattle. Well, yes I did, and along with my assistant and David’s I made about 500 dessert tastings. I got a tour the Field Roast factory, led by David, and snacked on Field Roast products in the break room. In our goodie bags, we found then top-secret (at the time) Chao cheese.
When you consider the recent sale of Field Roast, remember that David Lee is a compassionate and ethical man, who works to get plant-based foods to everyone. Field Roast being more readily available is a very good thing for the vegan movement.
Today I am featuring the gorgeous new Field Roast cookbook with a recipe from the book and a contest for a chance to win a copy.
In the Field Roast cookbook, Chef Tommy McDonald shares fundamental techniques and tips that will enable you to make your own vegan meats at home–for everyday (sandwiches, burgers, meatloaf) to holiday (stuffed roast, anyone?), as well as recipes for using them in every meal from breakfast through dinner. The 100 recipes are flexible: want to make your own plant-based meats? Great! Want to use Field Roast products instead? That will work too. All you need are grains, veggies, and spices–easy-to-find whole food ingredients for authentic, hearty taste. With basics such as cutlets and sausages, along with dishes like Burnt Ends Biscuit Sandwich, Chicken Fried Field Roast and Waffles, Pastrami on Rye, Tuscan Shepherd’s Pie, Curry Katsu, (and even some favorite desserts), Field Roast brings new meaning to plant-based meat.
Pea Soup with Charred Spicy Sausage
- 2 tablespoons safflower oil, plus more for grilling the sausage
- 1/2 yellow onion, 1/4-inch diced
- 1 carrot, 1/4-inch diced
- 2 stalks celery, 1/4-inch diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 teaspoons sea salt
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 2 sprigs thyme
- 1 pound dried split peas, rinsed, any stones or debris removed
- 8 cups vegan vegetable stock
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 small leeks. cleaned and thinly sliced, after trimming the top at about 1 inch from the tender white part of the leek
- Leaves from 2 sprigs tarragon, minced
- 4 links Field Roast Mexican Chipotle Sausage, sliced
- In a stockpot over medium heat, heat the safflower oil and add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, and1 teaspoon of the salt. Allow the veggies to cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the onion has become translucent.
- Add the bay leaves, chili powder, and thyme, and stir. When the mixture becomes fragrant with thyme, add the split peas, stock, and 2 teaspoons of the salt. Stir the mixture, increase the heat to medium-high, and cover. Allow the soup to cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, then lower heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring occasionally, for another 30 to 35 minutes, or until the peas have lost their shape and the soup is smooth. Season to taste with additional salt.
- While the soup is cooking, in a small skillet over medium heat, heat the olive oil and add the leeks and 1 tablespoon of salt. Sauté this mixture for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the leeks become visibly soft,then lower the heat to low, add the tarragon, and stir. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the leeks are lightly caramelized. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- On a grill over medium-high heat, brush the sausages with safflower oil and place directly on the grill. Turn the sausages after 3 to 4 minutes; they are finished when hot throughout, usually another 2 to 3 minutes. For this dish, cook the sausages for an extra minute per side to increase the char, as it provides a nice smoky flavor and texture contrast.
- Serve the soup in bowls. Slice the sausage and top each bowl. Finish by placing some of the leek mixture on top of each.
Recipe from Field Roast by Tommy McDonald. Reprinted with permission.
I have a copy of Field Roast for one lucky winner this week. U.S and Canadian residents only, please. Follow the instructions below to enter. Contest ends at midnight EST on January 9, 2018. Good luck!