Here’s a relatively easy holiday feast, from the book Never Too Late to Go Vegan, by Virginia Messina, Patti Breitman, and myself. I learned how to do this from Molly Kerby an associate professor in the Department of Diversity & Community Studies at Western Kentucky University and created my own variation.
Seitan, or “wheat meat,” is easy to make. Served on your favorite platter, its appearance alone may elicit delight. Then the excitement continues as everyone bites in.
2 cups gluten powder (vital wheat gluten)
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
2 tablespoons garfava flour (garbanzo and fava bean flour; use white flour if you can’t find it)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 cup fresh basil (optional)
1/8 cup vegan BBQ sauce
1 1/4 cups vegan vegetable stock or broth
1/8 cup tamari
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
One 8-ounce container vegan cream cheese
2 cups spinach or 1 1/2 pounds shiitake or oyster mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup vegan pesto
1 3/4 cups vegan vegetable stock or broth
1/4 cup red wine
3 garlic cloves, diced
1 tablespoon tamari
Preheat the oven to 425°F.
Roast the mushrooms (if you are using them) for 10 minutes or till crispy.
To prepare the seitan: Combine the vital wheat gluten, nutritional yeast, barley flour, cumin, coriander and garlic, in a large bowl. Form a well in the mixture.
In a measuring cup or small bowl, stir together the BBQ sauce, vegetable stock, tamari, oil, and vinegar. Pour into the well in the vital wheat gluten mixture. Stir to combine until the gluten mixture is completely moistened. Knead the seitan for 5 minutes.
Lower the oven heat to 375ºF. Oil a 13 x 9-inch baking dish .
Place the seitan mixture on parchment paper, plastic wrap, or wax paper. Cover with plastic wrap and use a rolling pin to roll out roughly into a 13 x 9-inch rectangle. (But actually you don't need to use plastic wrap if it seems too challenging.) Let the seitan rest for thirty minutes.
If you are using the mushrooms instead of the spinach, mix the pesto with the cream cheese.
Spread the cream cheese or pesto cream cheese on the rectangle, leaving a 1-inch margin along the sides. Add the spinach or mushrooms on top of the cream cheese. Sprinkle with the pine nuts.
Roll up the seitan jelly-roll style lengthwise. Tightly pinch together the ends of the seitan roll. Then create a seam by pinching the seitan together along the length of the seitan roll, to completely seal the ingredients inside. (Do not allow any stuffing to leak.)
Carefully move the seitan roll from the paper or plastic and into the prepared baking dish or casserole. Place the long-seam side of the roll facedown in the baking dish.
In a measuring cup, prepare the broth: Mix the vegetable stock, wine, garlic, and tamari. Pour over the seitan. Seal with foil.
Bake for 30 minutes, and then carefully flip over the seitan roll or not. (I did not flip it because I followed the variation that called for veggies cooking in the broth. See below) Baste the top with some of the broth in the pan, re-cover with foil, and bake for about 30 minutes more.
Variation No. 1: Seitan with Roasted Vegetables
Once you have placed the seitan roll in the baking dish, add chopped vegetables, such as zucchini, yellow squash, parsnip, turnip, carrots, and potatoes. Cut the vegetables into bite-size pieces and arrange them around the seitan, and let them roast while the seitan cooks.
Variation No. 2: Seitan en Croûte
For this variation, you will need a box of vegan puff pastry, such as (Pepperidge Farm brand is vegan).Assemble and cook the seitan a couple of days before you plan to serve it. Allow it to cool overnight in the refrigerator, or freeze it. (On the day you are going to serve it, remove it from the freezer in the morning.)
Forty minutes before you want to bake it, defrost the puff pastry according to the directions on the package.
Brush a little Chinese sesame oil over the seitan roast and bake for 10 minutes at 375 degrees.
Roll out one sheet of the puff pastry, and pull or stretch the sheet to accommodate the size of the roll. Place the seitan roll on top of the sheet of the puff pastry. Roll out the second sheet of puff pastry. Use the second pastry sheet to completely cover the seitan roll, by stretching both of the pastry sheets, so that their edges meet. Join the edges of the sheets together and apply a little water to seal them completely. (I folded them over.)
Bake in preheated 400ºF oven for 20 minutes, or until the pastry appears puffed up and golden in color.