Seitan (pronounced “say-TAN”) is a type of veg-friendly protein made from vital wheat gluten. If you or someone in your family has gluten allergies or sensitivities, you may wish to skip this one. But, if you can eat bread, you can eat seitan.
I have never bought pre-made seitan at the store.
The thought of eating “faux meats” really creeped me out when I first went veg. That is, until I tried some veggie “meat”-based dishes at some of our local (and non-local) vegan restaurants, and it changed my world.
I still remember the first time I tried the honey-mustard “chicken” wrap at Evolution Fast Food (the only 100% vegan drive-thru in the country, located here in sunny San Diego). Holy moly, my eyes practically popped out of my face when I took the first bite – the texture, the seasonings, and the juiciness were even better than eating real grilled chicken.
Then, when my hubby and I took a late summer road trip along the central coast of California, we made it a point to stop at El Cantaro, a vegan Mexican restaurant just two blocks from the Monterrey Bay Aquarium. I ordered a “chicken quesadilla.” All I can say about it is “Dayummm!!” – the amaranth “chicken” was cut into tender little chunks, the large corn tortilla was soft and slightly thick (like the kind and they make in rural Mexican villages), and the “cheesy” filling was saucy and creamier than I remember real cheese tasting. Oh, and there was some shredded lettuce in there too, for a little fresh crisp. This was probably the first time I ever had to eat a quesadilla with a fork and knife. I’m kind of sad now that we don’t have an El Cantaro in SD… but it makes me happy to know that it’s out there.
Those (and other) tasty experiences opened my mind. If these super vegan chefs can use nothing but plant-based ingredients to mimic the taste and texture of the animal products I used to love, why can’t I?
Hence, my first seitan roast.
Not gonna lie; it looks really weird when it’s just a mass of uncooked dough. It looks like brains. Juicy brains with a surprisingly wonderful Italian aroma. But bear with me, because it’s going to transform in the oven, baby!
The smells emanating from the oven within the first 30 minutes of baking reminded me of Thanksgiving heaven (without the butchered animals). Ooh la la, when it came out and I sliced into the roast, it was so tender. The texture and taste is somewhat similar to an Italian sausage, but all its own at the same time.
Major plus… this seitan roast is very versatile!
You can serve it traditional-style, sliced thick straight out of the oven with mashed potatoes and (vegan) gravy. You can cut it into little chunks and use it like sausage, tossed over your pasta (like I did here). You can slice it thin to make sandwiches. Or, my favorite use so far… make seitan fajitas! I tell you, even the leftovers are juicy – which you’re not likely to get with leftover cooked chicken or beef.
One seitan roast “log” lasted me (and the hubby) all week, used in many tasty meals – which makes it a pretty cheap alternative to meat. I believe one bag of vital wheat gluten (I bought mine at Sprouts) is enough to make 3 or 4 roasts – so go get one and make this!
- 2 cups vital wheat gluten
- 2 Tbsp. unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 1 tsp. onion powder
- 1 tsp. dried sage
- 1 tsp. Italian seasoning
- 1 1/2 cups cold water
- scant 1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
- 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
- 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- Combine all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Mix all of the wet ingredients in a large measuring cup.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon until it creates a dough.
- Use your hands to knead the dough (either in the bowl or on a large cutting board) for 3 minutes. This will develop the elasticity of the dough. If the dough is too wet, add a little bit more vital wheat gluten. If the dough is too dry, add a little more water. Let rest for 10 minutes after kneading.
- Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees F and prepare baking sheet. Lay two sheets of aluminum foil of equal length, as long as your baking sheet, onto the pan, overlapping each other lengthwise by 6 inches. Lay a sheet of parchment paper over the center of the aluminum foil.
- Knead the dough one last time for 30 seconds, then form into a log shape. Place log over the parchment paper.
- Wrap the log first with the parchment paper, then with the aluminum foil, folding it over the top. Roll in the edges of the aluminum foil to make a sealed packet. It should be sealed well, but not too tight - it will need a little bit of room to expand.
- Bake in the oven for 1 hour, pausing to flip the packet every 15 minutes to ensure even cooking (wide tongs work well for this). Remove from oven, carefully open packet, and serve seitan as desired.
Recipe adapted from Amanda Eats SLC .
Nutrition information below for 1/12 of seitan roast.