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.