Vegan since 1975, I decide to answer the question, "What DO you eat?" These posts tell about some meals and recipes my family and I have enjoyed over the years.


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Savory Roast Seitan and Gravy

SAVORY ROAST SEITAN is an easy dish to prepare. I usually just call it roast gluten, but I didn't want to scare anyone off from trying it. 

Gluten is the protein part of the wheat berry, that which is left over if you wash away all the starch from whole wheat flour, after mixing it with water and kneading it a while into a dough ball. You can do that if you want, but it's a lot easier to just buy some vital wheat gluten powder, available at natural food stores. I checked with Arrowhead Mills, one of the main producers of gluten in this country, and they are still making their own and not importing it from China, like the pet food companies do, so there is no need to worry about melamine contamination if you buy their brand, or ask if they are the source of bulk gluten powder, if that's what your store carries. Seitan is a seasoned cooked substance made from gluten, which is available in the freezer or refrigerated sections of your natural food store. The plain gluten dough ball is usually cooked in a seasoned broth for an hour or so to make it the traditional way, but I find it easier to do it my own way at home, which is probably cheaper, too.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Once you've brought home a package of the gluten powder, which should be about two cups, dump it in a mixing bowl and add the following seasonings, stirring them all together: two tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes (better pick some of those up when you get the gluten, along with the tamari soy sauce you'll need), half a teaspoon of garlic powder, a quarter teaspoon of ginger powder, a sprinkle of cumin seeds, and a dash of red pepper. You can use a little more of any of those, if you'd like.

Add an eighth cup of tamari soy sauce to one and a half cups of water and pour that into the dry mixture. Stir it together with a fork, cleaning the sides of the bowl with the forming gluten ball. If there is any leftover dry mix, then just add a little more water. It will form a springy, spongy ball.

Oil a rectangular glass baking dish, or whatever you have for baking casseroles, and press and flatten the dough ball out into an irregular approximately half inch thick shape as best you can. Pour over this another eighth cup of tamari mixed in another one and a half cups of water, so it is sitting in a bath.

I like to add several peeled cloves of garlic to the water, and you should, if you like garlic.

At this point you can just bake it for an hour, at which point it will be ready to slice and eat. The gluten will absorb the liquid and form a crust on top. It does have a spongy texture, which some people find unpleasant, but on the other hand, it is fun to cut something up with a carving knife that hasn't suffered for your eating pleasure, and it is nice and chewy. You can also use it instead of meat in recipes like stews, soups or fajitas, and it is especially good the next day, fried in slices and used to make sandwiches.

If you want to make more of a complete dinner, you can add cut up potatoes around the gluten before you cook it. Then, with the addition of some cooked greens, your dinner is almost ready.

At Thanksgiving I double the recipe of roast gluten and cook it the day ahead for an hour in a larger rectangular baking dish. After it cools a bit I loosen it from its baking dish. In the morning of the feast, I mold my stuffing in the cleaned oiled dish so it doesn't stick, and lay the slab of gluten over it, surrounding it with more stuffing. I baste the mound of gluten that's protruding with a little olive oil and lemon and bake it for another half an hour, or until it is cooked through.

GRAVY is nice to have on hand for the potatoes and gluten roast. I like to make it with garbanzo flour (made from chick peas, and I have seen it in the natural food section in my supermarket, marketed by Bob's), but you could use another kind of flour. It just won't be as rich flavored. I tried it with some sorghum flour I had on hand the other night, but still prefer the garbanzo.

Brown half a cup of garbanzo flour in a quarter cup of olive oil until it smells nutty. I use a cast iron pan for this. (Try to find one at a flea market or yard sale, if you don't have one. After you clean and cure it (rub it with oil and bake for an hour), it is easy to clean with just a soak in the sink, and it adds a little iron to your meals.) Don't let the garbanzo flour get too browned. Cool.

Boil a couple of cups of water.

Add one sixteenth of a cup (probably a couple of tablespoons, but I was cutting this down from a larger quantity recipe, so that's what I ended up with) tamari, one teaspoon of nutritional yeast, and gradually add some of the hot water to the browned garbanzo flour, stirring it in very gradually with a whisk or fork. Keep adding the hot water, up to one and a half cups. Try not to let it get lumpy: that is the goal. Good luck! The hot water and the gradual adding of the water, along with the cooling of the garbanzo/oil mixture first help with that.

As it thickens, add more water, then add a pinch of basil. When it seems creamy and gravy-like, turn off the heat and add about half of a lemon's juice, about two tablespoons.

This is really good on mashed potatoes, too, which we make vegan by using soy milk and a little earth balance butter substitute (you could try olive oil), a little tamari and nutritional yeast. Actually, we use those last two ingredients a lot, so be sure to have some on hand for my recipes.

Sunday night when I made my roast gluten, I surrounded it with the cut potatoes (I like Yukon gold) and baked a halved but not peeled buttercup squash (the flattened orb of a dark green squash, sometimes streaked with yellow, not butternut squash) with its seeds removed face down on a cookie sheet along with a peeled golden beet, some carrots, peeled onions and garlic and a garnet yam with the skin on.

I sprinkled the peeled vegetables with olive oil and a little salt. I baked them while the oven was preheating, as well as while the gluten was roasting, until a fork found them to be soft.

I made the gravy and steamed some collards for about fifteen minutes or so, until they were still bright green, but softened—you don't have to cook the life out of them. There was quite a feast that night, and the next night I just cut up the vegetables and gluten and heated it with the gravy for leftovers, which you can get away with, if nobody complains. There was one complaint from someone who doesn't like gravy (or at least sorghum gravy), but they ate it anyway, and it made for a simple meal.


  1. yes! ill have to show this one to jasons mom! i know she was interested in the idea of roast gluten! and now iiiii know how to do it!

  2. I keep changing the name of this dish, as it sounds so much less appealing otherwise...thank you kim for the idea!