Review: Gardein Golden Fishless Filets

Gardein Golden Fishless FiletsIt seems like there’s always one vegan specialty product or another that is on my “scavenger hunt” list.  In my pre-vegan days I might have heard about a new food item by way of TV advertising; however, most vegan foods don’t have that kind of advertising budget.  (Sorry, kale.)  Nowadays I hear about new products through blogs.  Once enough people have Instagrammed it, tweeted it, or written long prose for it, I am often pretty curious to try it for myself.

Only one problem – living in the middle of small town America means that it takes a long while before the newest vegan burgers, chips, cheeses, and spreads make their way here (if they ever do).  For things I’m particularly curious about or have tried and loved in other places, I’ll put in a request at one of my local grocery stores.  Sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn’t.

So I compile an ongoing list in my head of things that I want to keep an eye out for when I’m visiting one of those stores or if I’m in another bigger city where vegan specialty products arrive more quickly.  (If only every city had a Viva La Vegan, Artichoke Red, or Nooch.)

One item that I’ve been eager to try since last spring when blogger after blogger raved about them at Expo West is Gardein Golden Fishless Filets.  I’ve written about Gardein’s beefless burgers before, and David is in love with their 7 Grain Crispy Tenders.  They make a tasty dinner plate centerpiece on evenings when we’re not in the mood to cook.  Add some baked fries or steamed broccoli and dinner is ready.

Gardein Golden Fishless Filets - all veganAgain and again people kept comparing the Fishless Filets to Long John Silvers.  Admittedly, that may not sound like high praise.  However, when I was in junior high if you’d asked my favorite restaurant, I would have said Long John Silvers.  I was a fan of all manner of their strips, planks, and hushpuppies, and in love with their malt vinegar.  (It’s just ordinary malt vinegar, but that was the only place in my realm that had it.)  As an appetizer to a meal of fried, fried, and fried, I always added an order of crispies, the fried batter remnants that were sold for 25 cents per box.  So the 7th grader inside of me was very curious to try these new filets for myself.

I finally found the Gardein Golden Fishless Filets in Omaha through a tip from The Laziest Vegans in the World.  (Good and bad news: I later learned after babysitting three packages in the cooler for hours that one of our local stores where I’d requested them was now carrying them.)

We’ve made them a couple of different ways – first by baking them the entire time listed on the bag.  They were tasty but not quite as crisp on the outside as I was hoping.  The subsequent times we baked them for ten minutes and then shallow fried them in oil in a pan for 2 or 3 minutes on each side.  Perfection.

Supposedly there are 3 servings worth in each bag, but who are we kidding?  David and I split the bag (3 pieces per person), and that was a satisfying amount.  The filets aren’t too fishy in taste, and the batter has a terrific flavor.  With malt vinegar and a squeeze of lemon, it totally takes me back and no fish were harmed in the process.

Caprese Salad with Basil Vinaigrette & Avocado

Caprese Salad with Basil Vinaigrette & AvocadoWhile driving back from Omaha, we stopped on our way through Des Moines for an early dinner at P.F. Chang’s. I can’t think of any other chain restaurants that we visit, because chains tend to have very lackluster vegan options.  However, we usually stop by P.F. Chang’s a couple of times a year.  It can be a very handy choice when dining with a variety of eaters, especially with people who are hesitant to dine at an exclusively vegan restaurant.

The previous time that I had visited they had a terrific kale salad on special. I was hoping they’d have it again, but it was no longer offered. However, in its place on the specials menu was an heirloom tomato salad.

P.F. Chang's heirloom tomato saladThe salad (shown in the mustard-colored bowl) was made with fresh tomatoes, avocado, Thai basil, and a ponzu dressing. I asked my server to verify with the chef that the salad was vegan.  While we waited for the answer, David did a quick search on his phone to find out more about ponzu sauce and saw that it’s a citrus seasoned soy sauce.  The server came back and said that the dish was vegan, and on the P.F. Chang’s website, they list the dish as vegetarian.

(In preparation for writing this post, I did a bit more searching and saw that some bottled ponzu sauces, like the Kikkoman brand, have fish extract in them.  However, I called P.F. Changs headquarters, and they confirmed that the dish was vegetarian and fish-free.)

The ponzu dressing had a pesto flavor because of the fresh basil, and the salad reminded me of a caprese salad but with avocado instead of mozzarella.

Tomato Salad with Avocado & Basil Vinaigrette With tomatoes being extraordinarily delicious and flavorful right now, I couldn’t wait to recreate it when I got home. I sliced up a couple of juicy tomatoes and added ripe cubed avocado.  Instead of making a ponzu sauce, I opted for a balsamic vinaigrette with fresh basil. I topped the salad with more fresh basil and served it with crusty bread, extra virgin olive oil, and dukka for dipping.

It was such a satisfying summer meal, like eating a bowlful of bruschetta. If you’ve been looking for more ways to enjoy your fresh-off-the-vine summer tomatoes, look no further.

Tomato Salad with Avocados & Basil Vinaigrette

Caprese Salad with Basil Vinaigrette & Avocado

Serving Size: 2

Ingredients

  • 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 small clove garlic, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped basil + a few leaves extra for garnish
  • 2 medium to large tomatoes, cut into wedges
  • 1 avocado, cubed
  • Pinch of salt

Instructions

  1. To make the dressing: in a blender, blend extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, and 2 Tablespoons chopped basil until completely combined.
  2. In a bowl, toss tomatoes and avocado. Drizzle with desired amount of dressing. Top with a pinch of salt and garnish with a few leaves of basil (chopped or whole).

Notes

You will have leftover dressing, since this makes enough for at least two salads. Put any extra dressing in a covered container in the refrigerator and use within a couple of days for maximum freshness.

http://cadryskitchen.com/2014/08/12/caprese-salad-basil-vinaigrette-avocado/

This recipe was submitted to Virtual Vegan Linky Potluck #7.