Monday, November 28, 2011

Skillet-Baked Panko Cutlets (with Rotini)

I love seitan. But as time goes by, it seems to love me less and less. I'm not gluten intolerant and for the most part I feel fine after big bowls of pasta or my beloved slices of peanut butter toast.

But I've recently noticed that my stomach is not quite so happy with me after a big bowl of seitan. I've come to the conclusion that while I may not be gluten intolerant I do clearly have some gluten sensitivity when it is consumed in large quantities. Since seitan is a big bowl of gluten and very little else, it makes sense that I would feel less well after it than I would after a few slices of pizza.

A little Seitan 101 for those of you who don't know what the hell I'm talking about:

Seitan is a vegan protein that also goes by the name of "wheat meat" and it is made from the gluten component of wheat flour. It is often used in place of meat in vegan recipes because it so closely mimics the texture. It is also very easily infused with differing flavours making it versatile in many dishes and it can be prepared any number of ways. Stove-top, oven, grill. Sliced, shredded or in sausage-form. You can do almost anything with it.

It is also insanely delicious and my favourite of the vegan meat alternatives. Except that it kills my gut and a lot of other guts out there.

While seitan and all of the gluten "others" (pastas, breads, etc.) are all derived of the same source (wheat), the main difference between them is the quanity of gluten present in them.

They all get their start in wheat flour. While traditional breads, pastas, etc. use all components of wheat flour, seitan is made from gluten exclusively. To get at the gluten, wheat flour is hydrated, activating the gluten. All other starches and components are then removed. It is then once again dried and ground back into a powder and sold under the title "vital wheat gluten" or "gluten flour". We vegans then buy it in vast quanities and make everything from roasts to bratwurst to wingz with it.

Gluten helps dough to rise and because it is insoluble in water, it's also what gives dough structure and elasticity. When you take away all the other parts of the wheat flour and leave only the gluten it becomes really elastic, which is how seitan is able to mimic the texture of meat.

Gluten is a hot issue in 2011. It's role in dozens of ailments and diseases from ADHD to lymphoma is continually debated. Truthfully I don't know all that much about it except that it sometimes has the tendency to make me feel like crap and I feel a lot better when I don't eat a ton of it. Same with chocolate and coffee and wine and not getting enough sleep and worrying about things I can't change.

I should probably eliminate all of these things completely but instead they're given "sometimes" status in my life. These days, if I know seitan is on the menu for dinner I try to make sure all other meals that day are completely gluten-free. It helps.

Eliminating meat and dairy was so easy because it had nothing to do with food and everything to do with the animals. Gluten is a much sneakier bugger because the only one it's hurting is me.

Anyway. The whole purpose of this tangent is to show you the most recent pain-via-deliciousness that I inflicted upon myself. Damn you, Vegan Diner why did this dish have to be so amazing and why can I only have it, like, twice a year?!

I'm pretty sure all of Vegan Diner is amazing. Everything we've tried so far has been. If you are into comfort food at all, you need to get this book!

For this gluten gluttony you start by making a batch of Italian Sausage Cutlets (also from Vegan Diner).

Once they are steamed into shape they're breaded in panko breadcrumbs and pan-fried until brown and crispy.

Sadly, I don't have an oven-proof skillet (unbelievable, I know!) so I had to use a frying pan for the stove-top and then transfer the cutlets and sauce to a casserole dish for a few minutes in the oven, under the broiler (just long enough to melt the mozzarella Daiya). Which I of course forgot to take a picture of.

Once the Daiya is melted it's ready to go - serve on top of your favourite pasta. It would also make for a delicious sub sandwich or wrap!

You can find the full recipe for this dish here on Google Books. It is so good - kind of a vegan chicken parm alternative, if you happen to be looking for one.


Lorraine Young Pottery said...

I'm also a Vegetarian :-}

Just found your blog, will check out your food. HUGS and if you feel like popping by and saying hi to my ceramic animals please do.


Lisa is Raw on $10 a Day (or less!) said...

Oh, this looks really good! Now I'm hungry :) (Note to self, don't look at yummy food pics in the middle of the night ...)

Alexandra said...

This looks so delicious!

Niki said...

Seitan jacks up my stomach, too! I made my own seitan roll or whatever last Thanksgiving and omg, my poor stomach! Eating GF if I know seitan is in my near future is a good idea...

Bliss Doubt said...

I read that if you just stop eating foods that contain wheat gluten for a little while, you can go back to them with no problems. You just need a rest from it. That's what I read anyway.

I try to think of wheatmeat as bread, which is why I don't eat much of it. I'd rather have the bread, and I wouldn't put seitan on a sandwich because that's a bread sandwich, overkill. However, subsequent to your products post, I have gotten a bit hooked on the Gardein line, so I use lettuce for the bread, like a wrap.

I'm sure you can achieve a balance. Hail Seitan!

Dawn said...

I'm also gluten "sensitive."

I don't tolerate all-purpose flour very well, so I use whole wheat white (King Arthur's brand) and I have no (repeat: NO) issues with that! I make pizza crusts, cookies, everything from that flour and it all tastes great, too. Just thought you might want to try that. My stomach can tell right away if something is made with AP flour :-(

Interestingly, I do, actually, tolerate VWG flour, including some seitan without a problem, surprisingly! Yeay! And these look DELISH.


P.S. I'mma gonna have to pick up that book, it's on my wish list!

Mary said...

Lorraine - Cool, I will check it out!

Lisa - I always find myself looking at vegan blogs before's torture!

Alexandra - we loved it!

Niki - I hear's funny it's only an issue I've developed recently. Trying to lay low on the gluten for awhile..maybe build back my tolerance.

Bliss - That's exactly what I'm trying to do right now...lay low with the seitan for awhile in an effort to increase my tolerance. Hopefully, anyway!

Dawn - Thanks for the tip! I will check it out! And enjoy Vegan Diner...such cool ideas in there!

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