I tinkered for months before coming up with this all-purpose all-vegan ground beef alternative. No, it wasn’t because I’m in love with ground beef and want to replicate it. I do this because it makes it easy for those seeking more plant-based dishes to transition their favorite ground beef recipes. So let the deliciousness begin! I’ve had many many friends and clients exclaim they could serve this and no one would be the wiser. I say, let’s make the trade.
Ground Beef Alternative
This combo mimics the look and feel and texture of ground beef. It’s delicious and packed with protein if that is a concern for you. I call it my favorite—for now! I like to make big batches and freeze it so I have some whenever I need it.
¾ cup dried shitake mushrooms
¾ cup brown lentils
7 oz water-packed firm (or extra-firm) tofu, frozen and defrosted
2 T reduced sodium tamari sauce
1 tsp. marmite, optional
1 tsp. cumin
1 T taco seasoning mix (I used Penzey’s fajita seasoning) OR mild chili seasoning (such as Penzey’s 3000)
2/3 cup toasted walnuts
2/3 cup bulgur wheat
Rinse lentils and put into pan with 2 ½ cups water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Let lentils simmer for 15 minutes.
Crumble or chop shitake mushrooms into ¼ pieces and set aside.
Toast walnuts in a pan over medium-high heat. Stir continuously to brown but not burn them. They will give off a nutty smell when they are perfectly done, but they burn quickly so watch them carefully. When the nuts are done, transfer to a cutting board and chop fine.
Add walnuts and bulgur wheat to mushrooms. After 15 minutes are up, add the walnuts, bulgur and mushrooms to the lentils. Cover and continue to simmer for 5 more minutes. Turn off heat and let cool for 10 minutes. This is important as it allows the bulgur wheat to completely absorb the liquid.
Squeeze as much water as possible out of tofu, crumbling it in the process. Add tofu to a mixing bowl and sprinkle on tamari sauce, marmite, cumin and taco seasoning over tofu. Using your hands, massage ingredients into tofu until they are thoroughly incorporated and tofu resembles a ground beef consistency.
Add the lentil mixture to the tofu mixture and, using a fork, mash them together. Again you are looking for a crumbly texture. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.