This is A Tale of Two Seitans. For Thanksgiving this year, I decided to make something a little fancier than the baked tofu my husband, daughter, and I usually enjoy while our omnivorous extended family is eating turkey. The day before the big feast, I took one of my old favorite stuffings, wrapped wheat gluten around it, sealed it in foil, and baked it like “Veggeroni.” Right out of the oven, the savory flavor of the seitan was divine. Though the texture was verging on dry, I had to chase away family members circling like ravenous wolves so that I could wrap it up for the trip to my parents’ house. The next day, I reheated the foil-wrapped seitan in the oven alongside my green bean casserole and my mother’s cornbread dressing. And that’s where I made my mistake. I should have steamed it or microwaved it because it came out of the oven much drier than before. Doused with mushroom gravy, it was still good, but it could have been better.
That’s how this second seitan came to be.
I posted a photo of the first seitan roulade on my Facebook page and planned to share the recipe when I got back from my Thanksgiving trip. But because I wasn’t completely satisfied with how the roulade “performed” for the big meal, I decided to see if I could come up with a moister, more tender seitan that would hold up to reheating. In this version, I “oven-steamed” the seitan first in a little broth before uncovering and baking it. Success! The stuffed seitan was so tender that we didn’t need any gravy. The only downside is that because it wasn’t confined by foil, the roast expanded as it cooked and lost its “rolled” design. It’s also less sturdy than the foil-baked version, so if we were planning to travel with it, we’d need to pack it much more carefully.
Overall, I prefer the version you see pictured here, but if you want the roulade look, follow the variation in the recipe below. Whichever way you make it, just be careful how you reheat it. Or better yet, eat it while it’s still piping hot out of the oven. “Savory.” That’s the best word to describe this meat-free roast, redolent with the flavors of thyme and sage and enlivened with the sweet-sour tang of dried cranberries. You won’t have any leftovers!
- 1/2 large onion, chopped
- 1 rib celery, chopped
- 4 ounces mushrooms, sliced or chopped
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage
- generous grinding of pepper
- 3 ounces whole wheat bread (about 2 slices), cut into small cubes
- 1/3 cup dried cranberries or cherries
- 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
- 1 teaspoon whole chia seeds or ground flax seed
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1/2 cup water (more as needed)
- 2 cups vital wheat gluten (10 ounces)
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon rubbed sage
- 1 teaspoon marjoram
- 1/3 cup quinoa flakes or quick oatmeal
- 1 teaspoon chia seed or ground flaxseeds
- 1 1/2 cup vegetable broth
- 1 cup great northern beans, cooked
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 clove garlic, peeled
- 1 tablespoon tahini (preferred) or other nut butter
- 1/2 cup vegetable broth
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon dark sesame oil (optional)
- 4 sprigs fresh rosemary
- Make the stuffing: Sauté the onion and celery in a non-stick skillet until onion is becoming translucent. Add the mushrooms, thyme, sage, and a generous grating of black pepper and cover. Cook until mushrooms exude their juices, about 3 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients along with enough water to moisten the stuffing but not make it soaking wet. Remove from heat and keep covered.
- Make the seitan: In a mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients (vital wheat gluten through chia seeds). Place the 1 1/2 cups of broth, white beans, soy sauce, and garlic in blender and process until liquefied. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, add the bean mixture, and stir until gluten is completely moistened. Drizzle the tahini over the top and knead it into the dough. Keep kneading until dough holds together in a ball. Set aside while you make the broth.
- Make the broth: Heat all ingredients until hot but not boiling. A microwave works well for this.
- Assemble: Preheat oven to 400. Lightly oil an oval or rectangular baking dish, 11-13 inches long and 6-8 inches wide. (Your seitan will expand to fit it, so try not to use a very wide dish.) Line your work surface with plastic wrap, parchment paper, or waxed paper. Place the dough in the center, cover it with plastic wrap, and roll out the seitan, making sure that it is the same thickness in all places, until it's about 9x13 (an inch or so either way doesn't matter, but make sure it's not longer than your pan). Spread the stuffing evenly, leaving a 1-inch margin on all sides. Lift up the plastic wrap on one of the long edges and roll the seitan up like a jelly roll. (Alternatively, arrange the stuffing in a horizontal line across the middle of the seitan and bring one long edge up and over it to the other side.) Pinch the ends sealed first and then pinch well to seal the long seam. Take care to make sure that the edges are completely sealed and no gaps or stuffing shows. Lift the seitan roll carefully and place seam-side down in the prepared casserole dish. Pour the baking broth over it, add rosemary, and cover tightly. If the dish doesn't have a cover, use aluminum foil to cover tightly. (Did I mention "tightly?" Tightly! I enclosed even the bottom of the dish in foil.)
- Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from oven, baste with broth, recover tightly, and bake for another 25 minutes. Baste again and return to oven uncovered for about 30 minutes. Baste 2 or 3 times as it's cooking. Seitan is done when top seems firm and brown and the broth has evaporated. You can test it by cutting a small slit in the middle; if it is doughy rather than firm, return to the oven.
- Remove from the oven and let cool for 5-10 minutes. Transfer carefully to a cutting board or serving platter and cut into 1/2-inch slices.
Happy Holidays and thanks for reading FatFree Vegan Kitchen!
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