I had Lemonade’s chicken basque for the first time a few weeks ago and thought it was tasty. My fears of dry chunks of chicken were blown away by how tender and flavorful the stew was. Putting olives in a stew? Brilliant! Of course, as soon as I downed the bowl, I thought, “Hey, I bet I can make a pretty decent vegan rendition of this.”
I went online and looked up the recipe for the original dish and knocked out all of the non-vegetarian ingredients. I wanted something to take the place of the chunks of chicken. Cauliflower was out because while I love the brassica, I was afraid the stew would taste like sulfur. Faux meat was out because I don’t really like using it if I can avoid it. Tofu was out because I couldn’t picture it in the stew. Jackfruit? Maybe.
My ingredient list ended up being (in case you can’t read my handwriting):
- green olives
- purple olives
- chickpeas (for protein)
- fresh thyme
- 4 roma tomatoes
- flat leaf parsley
- artichoke hearts (I used canned)
- green jackfruit (Optional! comes in cans from the Asian market)
- smoked paprika
- red bell pepper
- a quarter of a preserved lemon
- a dab of tomato paste
- fancy olive oil to finish
- vegetable stock
- 2 cloves garlic
Dice the onion and bell pepper and sautee it in the pan for a few minutes. When they’re soft, add in a dab of tomato paste, a healthy sprinkle of smoked paprika and stir. You want the paste to take on some color. Add in a large sprig of thyme. I leave the leaves on the sprig so it’s easy to fish out whole later. Seed and chop the tomatoes and put them in the pot. Generously salt and give it a stir. While all that is cooking, pit and roughly chop the olives. You don’t want to chop the olives up too much. I’d leave it so that the olives are only quartered. Add those and them pour in 1 part stock and 1 part water.
While the stock is coming to a boil, rinse the artichoke and jackfruit pieces. Halve the hearts and hand shred the jackfruit pieces. Add them to the pot. Rinse the canned chickpeas and add that into the stock too. At this point, cover the pot and let it simmer on low for an hour. Conversely, you can do I what I did and cook it all in the pressure cooker under low pressure for 10 minutes.
In the meantime, chop up a bunch of parsley and the quarter of the preserved lemon. I didn’t add the lemon into the stock because I wanted it to still taste fresh and I find that cooking preserved lemon makes it a little bitter. When the soup is done, turn off the heat. Stir in the in the parsley and lemon and a good glug of the olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste.
I served this over plain cooked bulgur wheat, but I imagine it’d be good over any type of nutty starch — farro, brown rice, quinoa even.
In hindsight, I could have left the jackfruit out. I wanted something that had the texture of shredded chicken, but the jackfruit ended up having the same texture as the artichoke hearts. I could have just left it out and used chickpeas for protein, but I didn’t want the soup to be too ‘beany’ in texture.