A simple, easy, rustic and hearty Vegan Roast that's sliceable, ultra tender and full of flavour. Just perfect for serving with copious amounts of gravy, roast potatoes and all the trimmings. Leftovers are great in sandwiches too!
Introducing my new vegan comfort food love. Vegan Roast. And yes, to answer your question, I have become a homemade seitan lover and I attribute my newfound love to how easy this roast is to make, and how absolutely delicious it is when served up in epic proportions with tasty gravy, Vegan Yorkshire Puddings, Crispy Roasted Potatoes and all the trimmings in a roast dinner type situation.
Tis the season of gathering around the table and feasting on delicious food, and I am always in need of simple, manageable, festive recipes that still feel a bit special. And this vegan roast recipe is all of that.
It is super easy to make and you can prep it and shape it up to 3 days ahead, leave it in the fridge, then cook it on the day, or even in advance. Don't you just love recipes that take the pressure off like that?
It's also way cheaper to make than pre-made vegan roasts and is a great alternative to Thanksgiving turkey or Tofurkey.
What is seitan?
Seitan (pronounced say-tan) is a vegan meat substitute that is made with vital wheat gluten. It's popular because of its very meaty texture and extremely high protein content. Most of the ready-made vegan meat substitutes that you can buy at the grocery store are seitan based.
When you make seitan you make a dough and then knead it to develop the gluten structure, in a similar way to making bread. That's how it gets it's unique "meaty" texture. In most seitan recipes, the more the dough is kneaded, the chewier the finished product will be. This one is a little different because of the ratio of other ingredients to the vital wheat gluten. It will stay tender and not chewy even if you accidentally knead it for too long. It's a pretty foolproof seitan recipe.
Once kneaded, seitan dough can be cooked by either steaming, baking or simmering in water. Each method creates a very different result. For this recipe baking is what I recommend and you do not need to steam it first.
Please note that because seitan is a wheat based product, people with gluten sensitivities or who are celiac should avoid eating it.
What is vital wheat gluten?
So now you might be wondering what on earth seitan is made from? The answer is vital wheat gluten.
Vital wheat gluten is made from wheat flour which is hydrated to activate the gluten, the main protein in wheat. Then everything but the gluten is removed. The gluten is then dried and ground back into a powder.
Vital wheat gluten is the main ingredient in seitan recipes like this one, but is also great when used as a binder in vegan meatloaf and burgers. I use it in the "meatball" recipe in my cookbook Vegan Comfort Cooking. They are so good!
It is also a useful ingredient in bread recipes. Just a tablespoon or two in a loaf can improve the texture and elasticity of dough, which in turn helps improve the rise, crumb and the crust. It's especially useful when making bread with lower protein flours such as wholewheat and rye.
Vital wheat gluten pretty cheap to buy although not all grocery stores carry it. I buy mine from Amazon. This is the one I used to make my seitan. It's incredibly good value for a great big bag and it's non GMO. Pour it into an airtight container and leftovers will keep for ages and ages.
How to make a Vegan Roast
FOR INGREDIENTS & FULL INSTRUCTIONS PLEASE SEE THE RECIPE CARD AT THE END OF THIS POST
So, let's get down to business. Here’s the run down on what’s going on in this vegan seitan roast and why:
- vital wheat gluten - Vital wheat gluten is what gives this vegan roast its meaty texture and is an absolutely essential ingredient in this recipe. It absolutely cannot be made without it. Sorry to the gluten-free folks amongst you :O(
- white beans - Any canned white beans will work. They add moisture to the recipe and keep the roast tender.
- artichoke hearts - These need to be the ones packed in oil and not the brined ones. They add more moisture and flavour. I haven't tried it but I think you could probably get away with using uncooked mushrooms and a tablespoon of oil instead if you wanted to.
- nutritional yeast - depth of flavour. I promise your roast will not taste cheesy!
- sage, rosemary, thyme, garlic, pepper - flavour, flavour, flavour
- tamari or soy sauce - for a "meaty" flavour
- stock - again for flavour and moisture. For this recipe I love to use 2 tablespoons of Better Than Bouillon No Chicken Base mixed with the water. It has an almost chicken-y type flavour that works so well in a roast like this. If you can't get that though any good tasting stock will do. See my recipe notes for suggestions.
And what we are doing here is simple. No cutting board is necessary because there is absolutely no chopping of anything to do!
Add all of the ingredients except the vital wheat gluten to a food processor and blend up until well combined and just about smooth.
Add the vital wheat gluten and pulse until a rough dough is formed.
Tip out and knead until it looks fibrous.
Shape into a log, then place at the end of a strip of foil. Roll it up in it tightly then secure the ends like a Christmas cracker. Bake.
Once it's cooked, let is rest then unwrap, slice and serve.
You just made your own vegan roast, you little genius you!
- Don't skip the kneading. I've heard that some seitan recipes come out tough as old boots if you knead them too much and I don't want you to be scared of that. I promise that as long as you follow my recipe exactly, this one won't. Even if you get carried away and knead it way more than called for it will still be beautifully tender.
- Be sure to turn the roast half way through the cooking time so it cooks evenly. If you forget though don't panic. It will be ok, just a bit browner on one side then the other. Once it's sliced and smothered in gravy no-one will even notice!
- If you prepare the roast in advance and refrigerate it, take it out of the fridge for 1 hour before putting it in the oven to encourage even cooking.
- Allow the cooked roast to rest for at least 30 minutes before opening the foil and serving. And note that it stays warm if left unopened in the foil for a good few hours so you can make it earlier in the day to free up the oven for later .
- This recipe does need to be wrapped in foil to cook. If you try without it it will dry out. If you prefer the foil not to come into contact with your food, wrap the roast in baking parchment paper (not wax paper) first, and then cover that tightly in the foil.
What to serve with Vegan Roast
Slice up that tender roast and serve it with Crispy Roasted Potatoes, Melting Cinnamon Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Red Wine Vegan Gravy or the gravy from my vegan meatloaf recipe, crispy Vegan Yorkshire Puddings, Vegan Green Bean Casserole, mashed potatoes, stuffing, Cranberry Pecan Brussels Sprout Salad and roasted or steamed vegetables and definitely a few tablespoons of Instant Pot Cranberry Sauce. Talk about a feast fit for a King!
Or if you don't want a full on roast dinner, slice it up and serve with fries, roasted vegetables, vegan scrambled eggs, mashed potatoes and gravy, a fresh salad or pile it into warm bread rolls slathered with chutney or vegan mayonnaise.
How to store & reheat
Leftovers will keep in the fridge for up to a week. Keep them wrapped well to stop them drying out. You can also freeze it for up to 3 months. Let it defrost in the refrigerator overnight before using.
It's great cold or at room temperature, but to reheat, wrap in foil tightly and pop in the oven on about 350°F for 10 to 15 minutes. Or microwave individual slices for around 30 seconds.
Some ways you can adapt this recipe
This seitan recipe is pretty perfect and I wouldn't recommend straying far from the recipe, but you could try replacing the broth with red or white wine for a special occasion.
And so to recap, this vegan roast is:
- Easy to make
- Super tasty
- A great substitute for chicken, turkey or Tofurkey
- Surprisingly easy to make!
Hungry for more?
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- 1½ cups / 270 g canned white beans , drained and rinsed *
- 1 cup / 200 g artichoke hearts , packed in oil, NOT brined. Squeeze them gently to remove any excess oil before measuring.
- 4 cloves garlic
- ¼ cup / 28 g nutritional yeast
- 2 tablespoons / 30 ml Tamari or soy sauce **
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ¾ teaspoon dried sage
- ¾ teaspoon fresh or dried rosemary
- ¾ teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 tablespoons Better Than Bouillon No Chicken Base *** see notes if you can't get this
- ½ cup / 120 mls water
- 2 cups / 256 g Vital wheat gluten ****
- Preheat oven to 400°F (200 °C).
- To a food processor add the beans, artichoke hearts, garlic, nutritional yeast, tamari or soy sauce, black pepper, sage, rosemary, thyme, Better Than Bouillon No Chicken Base and water. As it's a paste you don't need to dissolve it in the water. Just throw it all in. See notes for alternatives to the Better Than Bouillon.
- Turn the food processor on and process until well combined and smoothish. It doesn't have to be super smooth. Very small lumps are ok. (see my pictures in the post above to see exactly how it should look).
- Add the vital wheat gluten to the food processor and pulse until a dough is starting to form then tip out onto a clean surface. Bring it together with your hands and knead for 7 minutes. You can knead in a stand mixer if you prefer not doing it by hand, but don't use your food processor to knead. By the time you have finished kneading, the dough should be starting to look fibrous. See my picture in the post above as a guide. If it isn't, knead for a few minutes more.
- Shape the dough into a log shape roughly 8½ inches long and 4 inches wide.
- Get a long piece of foil (around 20 inches long) and place the roast right at the end of it, long side of the roast along the shortest side of the foil. Roll it up in the foil. Keep rolling it until you reach the end, so that the roast is surrounded by a few layers of foil. Then twist each end tightly shut so it looks like a Christmas cracker.
- Place the foil wrapped roast onto a baking tray and place on the middle shelf of the oven and bake for 35 minutes. Turn it over and bake for another 35 minutes. Remove from the oven. Do not be tempted to open the foil. Leave it to rest in the foil for at least 30 minutes before opening and slicing, but it will stay warm for a few hours if you don't unwrap it. For a much firmer roast, cool then refrigerate before slicing.