May 6, 2012

Seitan Gyros - I Can't Believe it's Vegan

I am so excited to share this dish.  It's a vegan Gyros pita made with an herbed seitan.  I found the recipe in the VegNews Magazine. There's a whole section of Greek vegan recipes this time including:  Spanikopita, Baklava, and this Gyros complete with a tzatziki sauce. These recipes are by Catherine Dorrell, The Messy Vegetarian Cook. I haven't made seitan from scratch in a long time.  Thought I'd give it a try.  My son, Marty used to work at a Gyros at the mall, maybe I could entice him to have dinner with us. He does have a hard time in a kitchen usually full of food finding something he thinks he'd like.

Fake meats aren't something I eat a lot of.  I did experiment more with them when I was transitioning from meat.  At the first VegFest I attended, I watched a demonstration in preparing vegan sausage, seitan, by the founder of Field Roast.  It was a good demo and I immediately went home and cooked up a good batch.  I used fresh herbs and dried cranberries and nuts, I think.  It was tasty, but it wasn't something I was really excited about.  I wasn't thrilled about the texture, it was a lot of work.  I boiled it in the crock-pot I think for a long time. I also didn't think too much gluten in our diets is a good idea. After all, Seiten isn't for the gluten intolerant.  It's largely Vital Wheat Gluten, so should probably only be eaten occasionally, in my opinion.

It started with a recipe I saw for Herbed Feta.  It looked interesting, easy, and I had some extra firm tofu in the fridge and dried herbs in the pantry.  I'd love to have another vegan cheese recipe in my kitchen.

Herbed Feta

1 16-ounce package extra-firm tofu, cut into ½-inch cubes
2 cups filtered water
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
3 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons dried basil
2 teaspoons dried oregano

In a large saucepan over low heat, combine all ingredients and simmer for 30 minutes.  Set aside to cool and then refrigerate overnight.  Drain and use in place of feta.

The longer they sit in the brine, the tastier they become. 

While I was reading the feta recipe I noticed the whole page was about the Gyro sandwich.  I did have some vital gluten around looking for a home.  I had some left over from a recent project and was wondering what to do with it.  I'll give seitan another try, it's been awhile.  I am sooo glad I did!  This turned out very flavorful and tender.  It wasn't too difficult either.  The ingredients are mixed together, dry and wet.  Then it's kneaded for 30 seconds, rolled in foil, steamed 45 minutes, then the whole roll is popped in the oven for 30 minutes.  I was very surprised at the color and texture when it opened the roll.  When it went it in, it looked kind of like bread dough.  It came out looking like a nice sausage.  I'm amazed.

For the Seitan:

1¼ Vital Wheat Gluten
1/3 cup soy flour
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon rubbed thyme
¼ teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon allspice
¼ cup red wine
1/3 cup vegetable stock
3 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup diced yellow onion
3 cloves garlic, minced

In a large bowl, stir together wheat gluten, soy flour, oregano, salt, thyme, cumin, pepper, and allspice.  In a blender, blend wine, vegetable stock, olive oil, onion, and garlic until smooth.  Combine liquid and dry ingredients and knead into dough for about 30 seconds, forming into a 6-inch-long roll.  Wrap the dough in foil and twist ends to seal closed.

In a steamer, steam dough for 45 minutes.  Preheat oven to 350ยบ, then bake for 30 minutes.  Allow to cool slightly before unwrapping and cutting into paper-thin slices.

Tzatziki Sauce

1 cup unsweetened vegan yogurt
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 teaspoons fresh chopped mint
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons olive oil
½ cup peeled, grated cucumber, patted dry

In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Slice Pitas in half, sprinkle some fresh lemon juice over the seitan slices, add fresh onion, tomato, lettuce, or your favorite greens.

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