Textured Vegetable Protein, also known as TVP, another funny word to add to your vegan vocabulary. It sounds pretty alien but it might be something you have actually already used. If you’ve perused down the frozen food isle of your local grocery store then you’ve probably seen Boca Ground Crumbles as well as Morningstar Farms Griller Crumbles. Both of these are just flavored TVP. It is also the key ingredient in many commercial meat analogs such as veggie burgers, hot dogs, chik’n patties and vegan sausage. See, it's not so alien after all!
TVP is made of dehydrated vegetables (usually soy) and is a protein powerhouse (15 grams of protein in 1 ounce). It has no real taste of it’s own so it is easily adapted to any recipe that you would have used ground flesh for in the past. My favorite places to use TVP are in Manwhich sloppy Joe's ( a favorite from my childhood), Spaghetti and tacos. But the uses for it are limitless. You can make homemade veggie burgers, mock-meat balls, chili, etc.
TVP is dehydrated so it has a very long shelf life (15-20 years !!!). To rehydrate it use a 1:1 ratio of water to TVP. When a recipe calls for a pound of ground flesh you can easily substitute 1 cup of dehydrated TVP in it’s place.
My personal recipe for re-hydrating TVP is:
1 cup TVP
1 cup vegetable stock (dark)
1 tablespoon hickory liquid smoke
Boil the vegetable stock, stir in liquid smoke and pour over TVP. Wait until all the liquid has absorbed (about 5 minutes), fluff with a fork and use in your favorite recipe.
TVP is found in the bulk section of most health food stores and I have begun to see it pop up in small bags in mainstream grocery stores as well, although it tends to be more expensive there.