The Other Meat Alternative: Seitan

By Courtney Lenhart, Sargent Choice Nutrition Center Dietetic Intern

I was given the challenge of making seitan for the Vegetarian Nutrition class at FitRec. I was a bit intimidated, as I had never tasted the wheat meat before, but I forged ahead and had some pretty good results. After some research I found that boiled seitan has a sponge-like texture and looks like a brain, so I didn’t want to make that. I found a few recipes for baked and steamed seitan and, after weighing the pros and cons, decided to make steamed. The baked recipe I found took 90 minutes to make, steamed takes 30 minutes, plus the texture of the product seems to come out the same—chewy and sausage-like.

Seitan is a great meat alternative with it being a great source of protein: 26 grams per serving. It is also a great source of the B vitamins, most notably vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 is primarily found in animal products making it a nutrient of concern for the vegan population. B12 is essential for red blood cell formation, neurological function, and DNA synthesis. Luckily, the nutritional yeast in the seitan recipe provides 100% of the RDA for this important nutrient.

Italian “Sausage” Seitan Recipe
Adapted from the Vegan Epicurean

Makes 4 “sausages”

Ingredients

  • 1 c Vital wheat gluten
  • 3 T   Nutritional Yeast
  • 1 t Onion Powder
  • 1 t Garlic Powder
  • 1 t Fennel Seeds
  • 1 t Paprika
  • ½ t Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
  • ½ t Agave Syrup
  • 2/3 C Low-Sodium Vegetable Broth
  • 2 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Tin Foil

Directions

1. In a large mixing bowl mix dry ingredients.

2. In a smaller bowl mix wet ingredients – whisk until well mixed

3. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients, stir with rubber spatula until ingredients stick together forming a ball.

4. Knead dough for several minutes, (approx. 8-12 minutes). Dough should be fairly smooth with some cracks.

5. Cut dough into four equal pieces, form each portion into cylindrical sausage shape

6.Wrap each sausage separately in foil, twist ends like a candy wrapper to seal

7. Place “sausages” into steamer and steam for 30 minutes.

8.Carefully Remove and unwrap each sausage. Cool on counter top until “sausages” are cool to the touch.

9. Use as you like. Sliced in pasta, in a bun, etc… Sausages may be stored in a tightly sealed plastic bag for up to 2 weeks or frozen.

    Nutrition Facts: 206 calories, 26 g protein, 8 grams fat, 1 g sat fat, 5.5 g monounsaturated fat, 1 g polyunsaturated fat, 9 grams carbohydrate, 2.5 g fiber, 2.9 mcg Vitamin B12

     

    I decided to slice up my seitan sausage and add it to a pasta dish: Shells with Seitan, Broccoli Rabe, and Roasted Tomatoes. This recipe offers Protein, vitamin C, folate, calcium, and vitamin A. It is also mighty tasty.

    Shells with Seitan, Broccoli Rabe, and Roasted Tomatoes
    Adapted from Christina Cooks

    Serves 4

    Ingredients

    • 1 lb Broccoli rabe—rinsed well and drained
    • 1- 15 oz can Diced roasted tomatoes
    • ½-1 onion—thinly sliced in “half moon” shape
    • sea salt to taste
    • ½ lb   seitan, chopped
    • 1-3 fresh garlic cloves, minced
    • pinch crushed red pepper flakes
    • ½ lb (8 oz) Whole wheat pasta shells
    • 1-2 T EVOO

    Directions

    1. Cut stalks off of broccoli rabe and chop the rest into approx. 1 inch pieces. To steam the rabe place steaming basket in a large pot, add water to until the level reaches the bottom of the basket. Bring to a rolling boil and add rabe, cover the pot and steam over high heat until bright green, about 1 minute. Drain and set aside.
    2. Heat olive oil in a skillet and sauté onions with a pinch of salt until translucent, approx. 3-4 minutes.
    3. Add seitan to the skillet and sauté over low heat until browned. Stir in the garlic, red pepper, and season lightly with salt. Saute until garlic has softened, 2-3 minutes. Add diced tomatoes and rabe, stir. Cover and cook over low heat for 5-7 minutes.
    4. While the sauce is cooking, bring 2.5 Quarts of water to a rolling boil and add pasta. Cook according to package directions. Drain pasta when it is ready. Transfer to a serving bowl and toss with seitan mixture.

     

    Nutrition information:
    524 Calories, 38 g protein, 13 g fat, 1.5 g saturated fat, 8 g monounsaturated fat, 1.5 g polyunsaturated fat, 65 g carbohydrates, 9 g fiber, 2.93 mcg vitamin B12


    One Comment

    Get Fit posted on March 11, 2013 at 7:44 pm

    I count myself as a health nut and food lover, but before reading this I’d never heard of seitan. It doesn’t look too appealing, but I suppose I should try it anyway! Particularly interested in the B12 content – something which is seriously lacking in most plant-based diets.

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