A friend of ours organised Christmas in July this year and I volunteered to make a vego alternative to the meaty centrepiece. I thought about revisiting our old nut roast or the tofurkey but ultimately wanted to expand my repertoire by trying a seitan roast. This one comes from Veggie Num Num - it's a gluten-flour dough wrapped around a sage, date and walnut stuffing. Ours ended up with a parsley, rosemary, date and walnut stuffing as a result of what the shops lacked and our kitchen already held.
I wasn't sure what to think of my raw seitan dough. It was a dull grey colour, didn't smell all that appetising and had a lumpy look (even though the wet and dry ingredients were well combined). Impossible to spread out evenly, I did not hold out much hope for a smooth cylindrical roll like Trudy's. I wondered whether I should spend more time kneading it, but this wasn't mentioned in the instructions. Thankfully it settled into a more even shape as it baked, tightly wrapped in several layers of foil.
This was a nice first effort and as I ate it I thought of all the things I'd like to experiment with. The seitan was very dense and a bit dry, while the stuffing was sweet and date-heavy. The slightly vinegary pickled red cabbage supplied by our host made an excellent contrasting accompaniment; some instant veg-friendly gravy did the job for our leftovers. I'd really like to incorporate that sour contrast into the roast itself, most likely via a glaze. This worked nicely on our tofurkey, and I'm still hung up on the promise of Léna's approach - soaking bean curd skin in basting liquid and wrapping it round the roast like a skin. Of course any number of stuffing combinations could be substituted, and there's all sorts of seitan experiments, roasted and otherwise, to be done. If you've got any tips please share them!
(very slightly adapted from the baked seitan roll with sage, date and walnut stuffing
at Veggie Num Num)
stuffing1 tablespoon olive oil
4 shallot bulbs, finely diced
1 cup sourdough, roughly chopped into bread crumbs
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1/2 cup fresh dates, pitted and roughly chopped
1/4 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons apple juice
450g gluten flour
50g plain flour
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried sage
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 1/2 cups vegetable stock
extra olive oil and apple juice to glaze
Start with the stuffing. Heat the oil in a frypan and add the shallots, cooking them until softened and translucent. Transfer the shallots to a bowl and add the remaining ingredients, stirring to combine. Set the stuffing aside while you work on the seitan.
Preheat the oven to 160°C.
In a large bowl, stir together the flours and dried herbs. Whisk in the oil and stock, stirring it all together to form a dough. Once the wet and dry ingredients are mostly incorporated, get your hands in there to finish the job. It may or may not be useful to knead the dough a bit at this stage.
Spread out a sheet of foil and plonk the dough onto it. Flatten the dough out as best you can, aiming for a large rectangle of even thickness. Spoon the stuffing along the centre of the rectangle, parallel with the longest edge. Roll the seitan around the filling into a log shape, using the foil to guide the dough. Fold the foil firmly and tightly around the roll, closing off the ends. Wrap the seitan roll again with another layer of foil and transfer it to a baking tray.
Bake the roll for 80-90 minutes, until it is firm to touch. Unwrap the roll (try not to burn yourself - use an oven mitt!) and place it back on the baking tray. Drizzle over some extra olive oil and apple juice and return the roast to the oven for a few minutes. When it's a little golden retrieve the roast, rest it a minute then slice and serve.