• 4 lemons
  • Your favorite pasta
  • 8 oz Beyond Meat strips
  • Flour for dredging
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 2 cups fake chicken broth (I prefer Better than Bouillon no-chicken stock)
  • 4 tbsp capers
  • 6 tbsp Earth Balance vegan buttery sticks, chilled and cut into a few pieces
  • 4 tbsp minced fresh Italian parsley

There’s good fake, and there’s bad fake – usually when it comes to vegan fake [meat|cheese|other] products, it’s bad. Or at least, it’s not convincing for anyone who’s still familiar with the taste – meaning, newly ordained vegans, or non-vegans, like myself.

Here at TheOccasionalVegan my goal is to make sumptuous gourmet dishes that everyone will enjoy, not just vegans - wishful thinking aside, vegan cheese tastes nothing like cheese, which is why it will likely never show up here. It’s also the reason why ‘vegan chicken’ has never made an appearance – Gardein is closer than most, but the texture and flavor are still way off from the real product.

Luckily, someone out there has finally done it right, and it’s eerily uncanny how similar the texture and taste are to the real deal: it’s called Beyond Meat, and it’s my new favorite go-to product for faux meat. Expect a full review in a standalone blog post once I make a few more recipes with it – for now, here’s my first writeup, a classic Chicken Picatta recipe made vegan with the help of a few items, and Beyond Meat.

Cooks Illustrated is this recipe’s main source, albeit modified. I find that the magazine nails everything they publish and is a great source for anyone to pick up new techniques. I originally made the same quantity of sauce it suggests, but both me and the husband agreed that doubling the amount is best. Thus, the sauce’s ingredient list and instructions are based solely on doubling what I tried – modify to your personal taste. I’m also a fan of all things tangy, so I added more capers than usual.

  1. Halve one lemon lengthwise. Trim ends from one half and cut into 1/8th inch slices. Juice remaining half and whole lemons to obtain 1/2 cup juice – it will take approximately 3 lemons, depending on size, so you may have a bit of extra juice to use for later.
  2. Preheat oven to 200 degrees
  3. Throughout this process, cook pasta according to the box’s directions. The chicken and sauce come together quickly, so you may wish to start the water boiling process early. Don’t put as much salt as usual in with the pasta water, as the Better than Bouillon brand no-chicken stock tends to be quite salty.
  4. Lightly salt and pepper both sides of the Beyond Meat strips, then dredge each piece lightly in flour. Too thick coating leads to an unpleasantly thick, crunchy exterior.
  5. Beyond Meat dredged in flour

  6. Heat a large skillet to medium high, add 2 tbsp of extra-virgin olive oil.
  7. Add Beyond Meat, cook until golden brown on first side.
  8. Reduce heat to medium, flip strips and cook until golden brown on second side.
  9. Transfer strips to oven-safe plate or dish and transfer to oven to keep warm
  10. Browned Beyond Meat

  11. Add shallot to the now-empty skillet and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds
  12. Stir in broth and lemon slices, scraping up any browned bits
  13. Cook until reduced to 2/3 of a cup
  14. Stir in lemon juice and capers, bring to simmer, and reduce for 1 minute
  15. Remove skillet from heat. Slowly stir in pieces of butter, 1 piece at a time
  16. Pour sauce over chicken, plate and serve, garnish with fresh parsley

Various tips:

  • I highly, highly recommend getting Earth Balance vegan buttery sticks, and not using regular old vegan margarine (or even the Earth Balance margarine in the tub). The buttery sticks are the only margarine I’ve tasted that tastes extremely similar to butter – and won’t change the flavor of the sauce as well.
  • Serve immediately, as the sauce will congeal fairly quickly once it gets cold. If you need to reheat it later, do so in a small pot on the stove over very low heat, until just warmed, to protect as best as you can against the sauce breaking.

Chicken Picatta with Beyond MeatChicken Picatta with Beyond Meat