Taco veggie ‘meat’

I had a workable recipe for Mexican veggie meat back before Christmas.

But after I wound up on my hands and knees on the kitchen floor, bursting blood vessels in nose and eyes as I strained to cough up a burger bit that lodged in my throat, I decided to ditch that particular recipe.

It wasn’t the veggie burger’s fault the house was uncharacteristically empty just then, or that we’d never trained Buddy, our aged Newfoundland-Great Pyrenees half breed, to perform the Heimlich maneuver.

Still. It was time to move on.

This recipe is the simplest veggie burger concoction I’ve ever attempted. If I’d used a premixed Taco seasoning, you could practically put the ingredients and box and call it “instant.”

Since I had all the ingredients on hand to mix up my own taco seasoning, I couldn’t resist adding that little bit of complexity.

The cool thing was, this got a thumbs up from the three family members who were willing to try it — four if you count me.

Naturally, I can’t help thinking about all the ways you could tinker with this. But I love knowing this elemental version is quick, cheap and passes the family taste test.

Easy veggie taco meat

2 cups dry TVP*

2 cups boiling (or at least really hot) water

1 15-ounce can fat free refried beans

1 egg

1 packet taco seasoning (recipe below if you want to mix your own)

1. Pour the boiling (or really hot) water over the TVP and let it sit a few minutes until the water’s absorbed.

2. Mix in refried beans, 1 beaten egg and packet of taco seasoning. (To make your own, see below).

3. Microwave 3-4 minutes and check to see whether liquid is absorbed to your liking enough to transfer to skillet. If not, continue microwaving in 1-2 minute sessions until you feel like transferring to skillet.

4. Or not. I actually did this in reverse and it worked fine, though it’s slightly annoying to work with something the consistency of cookie batter in a frying pan. (In the past I’ve microwaved veggie burger batches — when I wanted “crumbles” rather than shaped burgers — and eventually it gets to a state that approximates “done.” But for best results you probably want this to spend at least a little time in a skillet.

DIY taco seasoning

(approximates one “packet”; recipe from foodrenegade.com)

¼ teaspoon each: garlic powder, onion powder, crushed red pepper flakes and dried oregano

½ teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon each: sea salt, black pepper

1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin

1 tablespoon chili powder

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