Over the week or so before Thanksgiving I was busy dreaming up a dish to take to the annual vegan Thanksgiving potluck hosted by some close friends of mine. Even though I knew there would be Tofurky and some Field Roast grain-meat items, I couldn’t resist the idea of making my own seitan roulade, from scratch. And there needed to be puff pastry involved (not from scratch–my mom is that patient and focused, but I am not!). I was still researching Thanksgiving-appropriate seitan recipes when a certain tweet filtered through the intertubes and onto my screen. Shiitakes are the one kind of mushroom I don’t like, and I was already mulling a squash-and-kale filling, but Isa’s seitan recipe and roulade technique? Exactly what I needed.
Here’s how I modified her excellent recipe. I apologize for the very minimal (and not very good) photographs. The timeline was tight, and I didn’t take as many photos as I should have!
1 package (two 9″x9″ sheets) vegan puff pastry. I used Aussie Bakery brand from the co-op, but Pepperidge Farm is also vegan and widely available.
Thaw it well in advance! Ideally, this would be overnight in the fridge, but you can also thaw on the counter. Separate (but keep wrapped against drying) the two sheets of pastry as soon as you can without damaging them if you need to complete the thawing more quickly.
16 oz. butternut squash, peeled and cut in small (less than 1/2″) dice
Oil (I used canola; olive would be good)
1 good-sized shallot, thinly sliced
1/4 lb. kale, stemmed and finely chopped (any kind)
1/4 cup water
1 Tbsp. Champagne vinegar (or white wine or golden balsamic or even apple cider vinegar: something light-colored, relatively mild and a little fruity)
1 Tbsp. agave nectar
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. salt
Heat the oven to 350 while you chop the squash. Toss with just enough oil to coat, and spread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake approximately 20 minutes, stirring once, or until the squash is tender and starting to brown. While the squash is baking, heat another tablespoon of oil in a medium or large skillet over medium-low heat, and add the sliced shallot. Saute 7-10 minutes, until the shallot is very soft and starting to brown. Add the kale and water. Stir to combine, then cover for 5-10 minutes, stirring every couple minutes, until kale is just tender. Add cooked squash to the skillet and gently mix.
Combine remaining ingredients and whisk to blend well. Add gradually to kale and squash, tasting as you go. I found I had about an extra tablespoon of dressing, but you might want to use more. Set aside mixture to cool.
Roasted garlic cashew creme:
1 cup raw, unsalted cashews
1/2 cup water
4-5 cloves roasted garlic, peeled (About 1/3 of a good-sized head. I’d suggest roasting the whole thing, then using the other cloves for other recipes*)
1 tsp. Champagne vinegar (In this case, I’d sub with something minimally sweet like white wine vinegar or white vinegar)
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. rubbed sage
1/4 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 tsp. salt
Blend all ingredients in a food processor until thick and very smooth, scraping down the sides periodically. If you’re using a smaller food processor, you might want to add only half the water at first, and add the rest as the mixture comes together to avoid liquid splashing out. This recipe will make more than you need for the seitan recipe, but the extra creme would be delicious spread on crackers, as a dip for raw vegetables, or thinned just a bit and added to soup, either stirred in or dolloped on individual servings. Or you can just eat it with a spoon.
* Leftover roasted garlic? Coarsely mash it with a fork along with a generous splash of good-quality olive oil, another splash of balsamic vinegar, a pinch of salt and some crumbled rosemary. Serve with bread. It won’t last long.
Once you’ve got all of that made, scrape out the food processor and follow the instructions to make Isa’s seitan. It goes together quickly and easily! Here are the dry ingredients:
I followed the shaping method of another blogger who had quickly posted her step-by-step instructions for making the recipe, spreading the seitan dough directly onto the tin foil, and rolling it up like a sushi roll, using the foil to help hold the shape as you go. With the dough spread out, I spread about a cup of the cashew creme in a thick layer near the bottom of the dough, forming a rectangle maybe 4″ deep and going to within an inch of each side. In the center of that, I put a strip of the greens and squash, gently pressing them together as I went, maybe 3″ wide and an inch tall, and within an inch of each side of the cashew mixture. Then just roll it up, making sure that by the end of rolling you have seitan mushing against seitan, and not overambitious filling. Reach in through the foil ends of the roll and pinch the seitan together to seal. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but it will help.
The one hitch I ran into in Isa’s recipe, which she’s since addressed in the comments and an edit, is that the original posted cooking time was not nearly enough for me. It appears it was for many others who rushed to make this recipe when it came out, but for several of us the seitan was still gooey at that point. I don’t remember the final count, but it was at least 90 minutes before it was done baking for me. Check it at an hour, poking the roll for firmness. It should be noticeably firm and not squishy, so bake it longer if you need more time. Also, if you take it out and unwrap the foil for a closer look to determine doneness and decide it needs to go back in, try to re-roll it tightly. Otherwise, the roll will flatten/spread/expand like mine did. Not the end of the world, but not quite as symmetrical for a fancy presentation.
My roulade wound up being about 13″ long, which is far too long to cover with a 9″x9″ piece of puff pastry. Once the seitan was cooked and cool enough to handle, I just sliced it in half and used each pastry square to cover a half. Here’s the roll and one square of pastry, pre-cut:
Per instructions I found somewhere online, I rolled the puff pastry to make it about an inch wider, which left me a bit of extra dough to cut out some decorations for the top.
Here’s the seitan freshly cut in half, ready to wrap in puff pastry dough:
You can cut and wrap the seitan while it’s still fairly hot (but cool enough to handle safely), or you can cool it if you’re spreading out the prep time on the dish. When you’re ready to go, make sure the oven is at 350. Center each half of a loaf on a piece of puff pastry. Fold the top and bottom over on the long dimension. The dough should overlap slightly on the seam; press gently to seal. Fold the short ends just like you’re wrapping a present, and press them against the ends to seal. If the seitan is warm, the pastry dough will tend to melt a bit and stretch while you’re working with it, so be very gentle and work quickly.
Put each wrapped roll, seam-side down, on a baking sheet. I recommend lining it with parchment, foil or a Silpat to make it easier to transfer the finished loaves to a serving platter or cutting board. The puff pastry is very delicate once baked, so you’ll want to handle it as little as possible. Decorate the top with cut-out shapes of pastry, if you want (brush with a bit of water to help glue them into place), and bake 20-30 minutes, until lightly browned all over.
Without tooting my horn too much, these were a huge success at the Thanksgiving potluck. The seitan has great flavor and texture, and the fillings and pastry worked well with it. The pastry will fall apart pretty thoroughly when you slice it, so if you’re going for visual wow, make sure your guests see it before you slice it! The slices still look nice with the contrast of the seitan and the different colors of filling, though.
Here’s what else we devoured on Thursday!
Finding room on the crowded table for new additions to the meal
Dessert! Apple crisp with pecans, and Flourless Chocolate Tart from The Vegan Table