This vegan cashew “chicken” stir fry is one my new favorite meals for busy weeknights since everything gets cooked up in one pan in just about 30 minutes. It is one of those back pocket recipes that you can turn to when you have a bunch of veggies that need to be used up and not a lot of time to get dinner on the table. The inspiration for this dish came from trying to recreate a classic recipe like cashew chicken to make it plant-based. Unlike other recipes, this one was pretty easy to make vegan by using Upton’s chick seitan in place of chicken.
Tips for Making Vegan Cashew “Chicken” Stir Fry
- When chopping your vegetables, try to make everything the same size so that they cook evenly. Feel free to switch up the veggies depending on what your family likes or what you happen to have on hand. Some of my favorite veggies for this dish include: purple cabbage, carrot, broccoli, cauliflower, bell pepper, carrots, and zucchini.
- You’ll add a bit of cornstarch to the sauce for this recipe because it helps thicken it as you stir fry everything together. Make sure to whisk it well with the other sauce ingredients before using for the best results.
- For a pop of color, add some chopped green onion and cilantro to the stir fry when serving. I also sprinkle it with a few sesame seeds, but didn’t have them when I took the photos for this recipe. (Funny story – the reason that I didn’t have any sesame seeds is that our dog Honey stole them off the kitchen table when we left the house and ate the whole bag!)
- If you don’t have ginger paste (I buy it from Trader Joe’s – it’s super handy!), you can use fresh grated ginger root or dried ground ginger. However, I prefer to use the paste or fresh ginger because I think it has so much more flavor. Do you get frustrated that your fresh ginger root goes bad before you use it all up? I peel it and chop it into 1″ pieces and store it in the freezer. The frozen ginger is much easier to grate and it lasts for months in the freezer. (Plus, the small 1″ pieces are easy to toss in the blender for smoothies!)
What is Seitan?
I used seitan chicken from Upton’s for this recipe. If you aren’t familiar with seitan, it is a plant-based meat substitute made from wheat gluten, which is the protein contained in wheat. To isolate the gluten, wheat flour is washed to remove the starch so that only the gluten is left behind. Seitan has a yeasty, nutty flavor and a meat-like texture that can be easily sliced so it works well in savory recipes like this vegan cashew “chicken” stir fry. You can find seitan in the refrigerator with the rest of the tofu and other vegan products. If you can’t find seitan, you could also use a faux chicken product like these chick’n strips from Morningstar Farms or you can just use an 8 oz. package of firm tofu. Have questions about plant-based/vegan protein? Check out my ultimate vegan protein guide!
How to Serve This Vegan Cashew “Chicken” Stir Fry
I keep a few packages of microwavable rice on hand in the pantry so that I can just pop it into the microwave for 90 seconds as I get ready to serve this stir fry. I am terrible at making rice so it is worth it to me to splurge on the packets even though they are more expensive than rice from the bulk bin. When plating the stir fry, I added some sliced green onion and chopped cilantro for a pop of color and fresh flavor.
Vegan Cashew "Chicken" Stir Fry
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 8 cups chopped vegetables red pepper, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, purple cabbage
- 1/2 chopped onion
- 1/3 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon sriracha
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon ginger paste or grated fresh ginger or 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2/3 cup unsalted cashews
- 8 oz. seitan "chicken" pieces I used this product from Upton's
- To Serve: cooked rice cilantro, green onion
- Add olive oil to a large, deep skillet or an enamel dutch oven. Stir in the chopped vegetables and onion and saute.
- While the vegetables start to cook, whisk together soy sauce, water, sriracha, cornstarch, ginger, and garlic.
- Once vegetables start to soften after about 7-8 minutes of cooking, stir in the sauce, cashews, and seitan "chicken". Cook another 2-3 minutes until sauce has thickened and seitan "chicken" is hot.
- Serve over cooked rice and sprinkle with chopped fresh cilantro and chopped green onion.