By Chef Sara
Looking for a show-stopping vegan Thanksgiving entree? This gorgeous, protein-rich Seitan Roulade with Oyster Mushroom and Farro Stuffing fits the bill! Seitan is another name for wheat gluten, the protein-rich component in ground wheat that, when separated from the starch, makes a dense and chewy vegan meat substitute. Though it may seem like a newfangled food, seitan originated in China in the 6th century, when Buddhist monks began preparing it as a cruelty-free alternative to meat. The method used by these monks involved making a dough of wheat flour, kneading it underwater, and repeatedly rinsing away the starch until only the gluten was left behind. Fortunately for us, we can now purchase vital wheat gluten at our local grocery stores in the baking aisle or online, which cuts out the rinsing step and makes making homemade seitan a snap!
Speaking of the magic of grains, have you tried farro? Farro is an ancient form of wheat that has a nutty flavor and a chewy texture similar to barley. Combined with flavorful oyster mushrooms, pecans, dried cranberries, and fresh herbs, it makes a delicious and elegant filling for the Seitan Roulade. If you're intimidated by the thought of making your own seitan (which, I assure you, isn't as hard as you might think!), the farro filling tastes great baked into small winter squash halves, or even served alone as a tasty pilaf. For a nut-free option, omit the pecans: it will still be wonderful. Serve with Luscious Golden Gravy.
Seitan Roulade with Oyster Mushroom and Farro Stuffing
For the Mushroom and Farro Stuffing
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
4 ounces oyster mushrooms, trimmed and coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 white wine or apple juice
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1 1/2 cups cooked farro (from 1/2 cup dry)
1/4 cup dried cranberries, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage, or 1 teaspoon dried sage
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme, or 3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
For the Seitan
8 ounces firm tofu, drained (half of a 1-pound block)
1 cup vegetable broth
1/4 cup grape seed, sunflower, or canola oil
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
2 tablespoons tamari soy sauce
1 tablespoon onion powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 cups vital wheat gluten
First, make the stuffing. Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat, then add the onion and a pinch of salt and cook until softened and translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the mushrooms and garlic, and cook for an additional 3 to 5 minutes, until the mushrooms have released their liquid and the garlic is fragrant. Pour in the white wine or apple juice and allow it to bubble and reduce for a minute or so, scraping up any flavorful bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the salt, cooked farro, cranberries, pecans, fresh herbs, and a few grinds of black pepper, and mix well. Taste, adjust seasonings as necessary, and set aside until needed. (The stuffing can be made well in advance and refrigerated until needed.)
To make the seitan, preheat the oven to 350°F, and prepare your work surface by laying out two large (at least 20 inches long) pieces of foil, overlapping by a few inches. This is where you’ll roll up the seitan and stuffing.
Next, place the tofu, vegetable broth, oil, nutritional yeast, tamari, onion powder, garlic powder, poultry seasoning, salt, and pepper in the bowl of a food processor or a blender, then process until smooth. Pour into a medium-large bowl. Add the wheat gluten, and use a wooden spoon to stir the mixture together. Do not be alarmed when the mixture pulls together into a ball of dense dough with little effort: this it the wheat gluten pulling everything together. Use your hands to gently mix the dough right in the bowl until it looks uniform, then transfer the dough to the foil sheets. Use your hands to gently pat the dough into a rectangle roughly 16 by 10 inches. If a hole appears in the dough, no worries: just pinch it together with your fingers and continue.
When the dough is as close as you can get it to a rectangle, spread the mushroom and farro stuffing over the surface of the dough, leaving a 1-inch border around the edge. Press the stuffing gently and evenly into the dough, then starting at the edge closest to you and using the foil to help you, begin to roll the dough away from you, sushi-style, until you’re left with a log of stuffed seitan. Roll up the log snugly in the foil, twist each end together like a Tootsie Roll, then place on a baking sheet and transfer to the preheated oven.
Bake the seitan for 50 to 60 minutes, until it feels very firm when squeezed. (Use an oven mitt or kitchen towel to protect your hand when checking.) Remove from the oven, allow to cool for 10 minutes, then remove the foil. To serve, slice gently with a serrated knife, arrange slices on a serving platter, and serve hot with vegan gravy.