I shop only once in a while at Earth Fare
and found myself there today. Seitan is one of my favorite foods; I normally use Westsoy seitan strips
(they used to be made by White Wave
) but at Earth Fare found a brand new to me, Upton's Naturals
. They had traditional and Italian seitan varieties. I bought their Italian seitan and, wow, it is now my favorite seitan that I've had!
I've made seitan from scratch. Recipes are easily available (this one
looks good and my friend Eleni has made a video
about the process) but when I have made my seitan from wheat gluten, others have liked it, but I found that I preferred what I can find in the store. Maybe I should try again - especially since one of my signature dishes is my lime jerk seitan
Anyway, the Italian seitan tastes great! My wife, preschooler, and I all loved it. It comes out of the package as a crumble, and the Italian seasonings are not obvious ones I would have chosen with seitan, but taste great. The company
sounds great; they are in Chicago, all vegan, and specialize in seitan. They are planning on opening a vegan cafe in Chicago this summer!
The Italian seitan comes in an 8 ounce package and consists of vital wheat gluten, whole wheat flour, water, garlic, oregano, sea salt, onion, fennel, black pepper, red pepper, and soy sauce (I wonder if they have considered using coconut aminos to make it soy-free and to greatly reduce the sodium). If one were to eat a large serving of a half package (double of what they report is a single serving), that would come to 3g of fat, 30g of protein, 200 calories, and a not insignificant 528mg of sodium.
In comparison, the West Soy seitan comes also in an 8 ounce package (but lacks the interesting retro plain cardboard appearance) and is comparably priced (at about $4). A large four once serving would be about 2.5g of fat, 26g of protein, 150 calories, and 400mg of sodium.
Maybe its the novelty, but we all loved the "new" Chicago seitan. I am excited to see the range of products on their website, including several more kinds of seitan, tamales, wraps, and more. I will have to ask Upton's Naturals to participate in our annual Thanksgiving
So, getting back to dinner tonight, here is what I did.
- Eight ounce package of seitan; if not using a crumbled seitan like the Upton's Italian, then chop into 1/2" or smaller cubes
- Half of a medium yellow onion cut into 1/4" thick half moon slices
- Greens from a bunch of red beets (I don't particularly like red beets, though I do like baby yellow beets, but my wife had picked some up; though the dish came out well, it would have been even better with kale instead of beet)
- Chop into 1/2" lengths the stems from half of the bunch and reserve the remaining stems for other cooking or perhaps for a stock
- Chop into 1 1/2" lengths all of the leaves
- Twelve ounces of organic strained tomatoes (i.e., tomato sauce; for even more flavor, any favorite marinara sauce would also work)
- 1/4 teaspoon oregano
- Pinch of salt to taste
- Approximately half a cup of Madagascar pink rice
- Vegan bouillon cube
- I used my stainless steel-titanium Saladmaster saute pan; before heating, I added the onion then turned the heat on to medium.
- I stirred periodically for about a minute or two till the onion was just starting to get clear, then I added the seitan and beet stems and continued periodically stirring.
- After about 3 or 4 minutes with the onion starting to carmelize and the seitan just starting to show some browning, I added the greens.
- I continued periodically stirring for maybe 2 more minutes till the greens cooked down a little, then added the tomato sauce and continued cooking for another 2 or 3 minutes, allowing the greens to cook down a little bit more.
- I mixed in the oregano and salt, and served with rice (1 : 1 3/4 or 1 : 1 2/3 ratio of rice to water with a bouillon cube thrown in, simmered for about 20m) and salad.
We loved the dish and found the seitan to be the best that we've had! The rice is always good - it's pretty, has a variety of colors (think phytochemicals) ranging from rust to pink to off-white, and is a whole-grain rice that takes only 20m to cook. Our salad was homemade sprouts with baby bell peppers. Nowadays, I rarely add fat - this was another dish that tastes great and is filling, but has no added fat.
Ideas for the future
I'd like to routinely get Upton's seitans! I hope that they prove easy to find over time. Though I now rarely use oil, I do find that a little oil can be helpful in crisping tempeh and seitan - but the crumbled and spiced tempeh had its own firm texture that obviated any thought of crisping it. The greens were good, but kale greens would be better.