Agricultural giant Archer Daniels Midland created Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP) in the 1960s and still holds the trademark on the product today. The generic name is textured soy protein, and it's found in most processed soy meat substitutes such as soy sausage, soy burgers, and soy chicken strips.
What Is Textured Vegetable Protein?
TVP is a high-fiber, high-protein meat substitute made from soy flour. It has no fat or cholesterol. TVP is available in a variety of flavored and unflavored varieties, as well as different sizes—from large chunks to small flakes. Because it is cheap and widely available, it is popular among people cooking on a budget. It is also used in vegetarian and vegan recipes.
How to Cook Textured Vegetable Protein
Because it is a dehydrated product, TVP needs to be reconstituted in hot water or broth for about 10 minutes or more in the cooking process before it becomes palatable. Most recipes include this step. It cooks quickly and can add a great source of cheap and low-fat protein to many dishes. For liquidy dishes such as soups, stews, and pasta sauces, you can add 1/2 cup of dry TVP and let it rehydrate while it simmers.
Since TVP has a similar texture to ground meat when cooked, it works well in dishes such as vegetarian casseroles, soups, stew, and chili. TVP absorbs spices and flavorings well, much like tofu, so it is an extremely versatile vegan and vegetarian grocery staple.
TVP flakes, which are smaller than TVP chunks, are preferred for some dishes. For example, TVP veggie burgers have better consistency with the flakes. You can decide which size you like as a substitute for ground beef in recipes for TVP Sloppy Joes, or vegetarian shepherd's pie. Sauté rehydrated TVP with diced tomatoes, diced onion, and chili powder for an easy taco filling.
What Does It Taste Like?
On its own, TVP has almost no flavor. It's often used as mock meat and can be purchased already seasoned to resemble the flavor of beef, bacon, ham, chicken, and sausage. It's also available unseasoned.
Textured Vegetable Protein Recipes
Textured Vegetable Protein absorbs the flavor of whatever sauce you cook it in, making it a versatile way to add heft and health to a number of traditionally meat-based dishes.
Where to Buy Textured Vegetable Protein
TVP can be found in the bulk foods section of most natural foods stores and community co-ops. Also look for it in the flour and baking aisle of your grocery store, including offerings from Bob's Red Mill. Additionally, you can purchase it online.
TVP has a long shelf life; kept dry in an airtight container, unflavored products last indefinitely. Flavored varieties can be kept in a sealed container in your pantry for up to a year. Leftovers of dishes made with TVP should be refrigerated in an airtight container and consumed within three or four days.