Oh, no. Now I’ve done it. I’ve gone and used Textured Vegetable Protein. It’s one of those “scary” vegetarian ingredients that just from the very sound of it, carnivores begin to shudder and convulse. But, we vegetarians and vegans know that 1) it’s not that scary and 2) it’s a great and nutrient rich ingredient and 3) it’s an important staple to have on hand.
First things first, what the heck is this Textured Vegetable Protein or TVP? Simply put, TVP is defatted soy flour that’s gone through an extrusion cooking process to become dehydrated little nuggets or flakes.
Cooking with TVP couldn’t be easier. You heat up some water and put the TVP in the pan. Then the TVP soaks up the liquid and reconstitutes itself. It can also be thrown in the pan with other “juicy” items and it will soak up the cooking juices and reconstitute itself that way, too. (Note, however, that there are many kinds of TVP so check out the package instructions on how to prepare it.)
Here’s some of Bob’s Red Mill plain TVP prior to cooking:
Here’s plain TVP after cooking:
Many folks swear by the dehydrated TVP when they head out camping. It’s light and doesn’t take up much room. After a long day of hiking, TVP packs a punch in getting protein into your system.
There are many ways to use TVP as it soaks up whatever flavors you put with it. Throw it in some chili to add some bulk and see if meat eaters can tell the difference. There are many different kinds of TVP available in different textures and flavors that you’ll never run out of things to do with it.
Still think TVP is weird? Well, did you know that many of the “imitation bacon bits” that you eat are made of TVP?
So, now that you know a little more about TVP…let’s get cooking. This recipe for TVP tacos is from the Vegetarian Journal and, as presented, it’s vegan. It’s very straightforward but you can easily build on it by putting mushrooms, corn, and beans into the mixture. If you’re vegetarian you can add some shredded cheese and perhaps a little dollop of no-fat greek yogurt. I’ll definitely make this the next time we go camping. In fact, this recipe was so easy to make that I’m going to teach my in-house taste tester how to prepare it. I think even he can handle it.
Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP) Tacos
Vegetarian Journal, Issue Three 2008
2 cups water
2 cups Textured Vegetable Protein
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup taco seasoning (commercial blend of chili powder, cumin, and black pepper)
1 cup salsa
10 corn tortillas
In a large skillet, heat the water over medium heat and add the TVP, stirring well. Allow the TVP to reconstitute for 2-3 minutes.
Add oil and then taco seasoning, stirring well.
Allow to cook for another 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently. Mix in salsa and remove from heat. Serve wrapped in tortillas.