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For Thanksgiving, What do vegans eat? A Vegan Holiday Roast, of course!
Fear not, all you vegans and vegetarians! No longer do vegans need to fear the Thanksgiving table. In fact, they might find the family wanting to try one of the Vegan Holiday Roast versions, even if they aren’t vegan. In addition, consider either the Turkey Seitan Roast or our Thanksgiving Roasted Cauliflower.
For a vegan holiday roast, I recommend you consider either seitan or cauliflower. While uncommon to many, these plant-based versions add some healthy protein and flavor. Our vegan options satisfy the vegans in your life while adding a delicious twist to your family’s traditional holiday menu! You can’t go wrong with either one.
What is Seitan?
Most long-time vegans know Seitan by its name or one of the other names: meat wheat or gluten. This protein, derived from wheat, is known as a food that looks, tastes, and feels like meat. In fact, it has been used for centuries in Chinese cooking as the main ingredient of dishes such as General Tso’s chicken.
Moreover, while it might not be something you have heard of before, seitan is worth adding to your kitchen repertoire. It tastes delicious and provides good nutrition elements. In addition, Seitan provides protein without cholesterol or saturated fats. Also, it easily soaks up flavors, making it quite versatile. In fact, it assimilates with the flavors to make whatever dish you are craving taste just right! “Is this what vegan dreams are made of?” (Perez)
In addition, Seitan is a plant-based meat substitute that is high in protein and gluten-free. It looks like, feels like, and has the same texture as chicken or beef making it perfect for vegetarians who are craving meat! However, even those not longing for meat find great pleasure in this healthy protein choice.
Other Uses for Seitan, beyond the Vegan Holiday Roast
Seitan, or gluten as it is often called, provides a good meat substitute. The chewy, stringy texture and easily substitutes for chicken or beef in many dishes. Like tofu, seitan takes on the flavor of whatever you cook it with, so it’s versatile and easy to use! Here are three ways to use seitan:
- First, slice up some seitan “chicken” and add it to your favorite stir fry recipe for an extra protein boost. 2) Use sliced seitan as a replacement for pepperoni on pizza instead of cheese for delicious vegan pizzas everyone will love. 3) Make homemade vegan burgers using ground-up TVP (textured vegetable protein), garlic powder, salt, onion powder,
Notes about our Vegan Holiday Roast
When I began making gluten many years ago, I learned the basic technique for mixing wheat flour and water, kneading, and then rinsing the starch out. It took a lot of time and cold water and produced sore hands by the end of the process. Moreover, I did it because we gave up meat and wanted the texture of seitan.
Over time, I discovered vital wheat gluten. After some experimentation, I learned to make basic gluten by just mixing some seasonings, water, and vital wheat gluten. My stand mixer saved a great deal of kneading. And the end result was a delicious product with much less work, not to mention the water saved.
The Vegan Holiday Roast Recipe is more Complex
Wheat contains most of the essential proteins, with the exception of lysine. By adding the beans, our roast becomes a complete protein. But even more, the beans help the texture and flavors a bit. And the other additions also bring the flavor up to one deserving of that special place on your holiday table.
Yes, it is a little more involved than my everyday gluten recipes. But trust me, it is well worth the effort. And if you add one of our stuffing recipes (either on the side or rolled in the middle) you will be as impressed as your guests!
However, I also invite you to try our second “no-turkey” recipe: Roasted Cauliflower (see below). In fact, this year, our table will host both of these delicious entrees!
First, Our Vegan Holiday Roast Seitan; Turkey Seitan Roast
Turkey Seitan Roast
- 2.5 cups vital wheat gluten in dry flour form
- 1 tbsp onion powder
- 1 tbsp garlic powder
- ⅓ cup nutritional yeast
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 tbsp rosemary
- 1 tbsp thyme
- 2 tsp sage
- 1 tbsp tarragon
- 1 tbsp poultry seasoning vegan spice mix
- 2 cups white beans
- 2 tbsp Frontier Brand no-chicken seasoning or other vegan chicken flavoring
- 1 cup water
- 1 large onion
- 3 cups vegetable broth
- 3 cups chicken flavored vegetable broth
- ½ cup lemon juice or use white grape juice
- 1 tbsp rosemary fresh is best, dried works
- 1 tbsp thyme fresh is best, dried works
- 3 cloves garlic
- Blend all ingredients except the wheat gluten together in a food processor or blender. I use my Kitchen-Aid Stand Mixer and it works well, too. Blend until very smooth.
- Add the vital wheat gluten and blend until it is mixed into the ingredients. It's ok if the product seems slightly powdery at this point. Use your dough hook to knead for about 3-4 minutes. The more you knead, the meatier the texture. Less kneading produces a softer product. . However over-kneading sometimes produces a rubbery product. Watch for the dough to look rubbery and stop.
- Alternatively, you may knead by hand for about 5 minutes.
- Form the dough, as desired. We find the best results by rolling it out into a rectangle, then roll tightly into a cylinder. Make sure your dough fits your roasting dish. NOTE: If you want a stuffed roll, place your stuffing on the rectangle before rolling. You will still need to roll tightly.
- Wrap the roll in muslin, if desired, to hold the shape. Use twine to hold it in place. The roast tends to swell as it's cooked, so make sure it's secure. Set aside while you prepare the broth.
- Preheat your oven to 350°F.
Prepare the roast
- Mix all the broth ingredients together. Place into your roasting pan. The pan needs to be deep enough to hold the roast and broth.
- Place the seitan roast carefully into the broth. If it's not completely covered by the broth, spoon some of the broth over the roast.
- Cover with aluminum foil or your roasting pan cover.
- Place in the preheated oven and allow to roast for about 45 minutes.
- Remove the cover or foil. Baste the roast liberally. Continue roasting, uncovered, for about 35 minutes more.
- Allow the roast to rest for about 10 minutes while you make the gravy.
- Place all ingredients of the broth into a blender. (Strain first, if desired). Blend until very smooth.
- For a thicker gravy, add a little cornstarch to cold water and stir until no solids remain.
- Mix into the broth and heat in a pot until gravy thickens.
- Slice the roast. Serve topped with gravy or with gravy on the side.
After making the turkey seitan roast, or maybe even before, consider the Thanksgiving Roasted Cauliflower, turkey-style, of course.
Why Thanksgiving Roasted Cauliflower?
My first reason is the flavor. Of course, plain cauliflower might seem bland to many people. But bring on the seasonings and roast it. Moreover, those little extras help sell this to the most resistant eater. In addition, in fact, my friends who seem “meh” about this vegetable often return for seconds when it’s Thanksgiving Roasted Cauliflower.
Additionally, consider nutrition for another reason. One cup of cauliflower boasts:
- Calories: 25
- Fiber: 3 grams (that is about 10% of your RDI)
- Vitamin C: 77% of the RDI
- Vitamin K: 20% of the RDI
- Folate: 14% of the RDI
- Vitamin B6: 11% of the RDI
- Pantothenic acid: 7% of the RDI
- Potassium: 9% of the RDI
- Manganese: 8% of the RDI
- Magnesium: 4% of the RDI
- Phosphorus: 4% of the RDI
- Choline: 45 mg (about 11% AI for women)
Plus, antioxidants, including Sulforaphane, fight infections and inflammation.
However, when you have Thanksgiving Roasted Cauliflower, who actually stops at one cup?!
And now, our Thanksgiving Roasted Cauliflower Recipe
Thanksgiving Roasted Cauliflower (Turkey Style)
- 1 medium cauliflower
- ½ cups water
- 3 tbsp vegetable broth
- 2 tbsp tahini
- 2 tbsp soy sauce reduced sodium works well
- 3 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp garlic cloves minced
- ¼ teaspoons ground ginger
- 2 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp rosemary
- ⅓ cup nutritional yeast
- 1 tsp sage
- 1 tsp thyme
- ½ tsp onion powder
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ¼ tsp celery seeds
- ¼ tsp tarragon
- 1 tsp tomato paste
- In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients except the cauliflower. It will be quite strong tasting and creamy. Set aside.
- Prepare the cauliflower by removing the green leaves.
- Leave the stem attached, but cut through it crosswise twice.
- Marinade the cauliflower upside down in the marinade. You may need to use a pastry brush to ensure it is well coated. Allow it to soak in the marinade for at least 5 minutes. You may leave it longer, if you wish. I try to keep it marinading for about a half hour before baking.
- Preheat the oven to 425°F.
- Place the cauliflower in a baking dish and top is with any remaining marinade. Some may drip off and coat the pan.
- Bake until quite tender, about an hour and 15 minutes, depending on the size of the head. While baking, you can apply the marinade from the bottom of the pan to the top of the cauliflower every 15 minutes, if desired. This ensures maximum coverage.
- Serve while still hot alongside your favorite vegan stuffing and vegetables.
Thanksgiving Cauliflower Roast? Turkey Seitan Roast?
Which one might you choose for your Vegan Holiday Roast? In fact, I suggest you might try both. You see, while one provides a protein component (the Turkey Seitan Roast) the other is a nutritious vegetable.
But, are there other choices? Yes, in fact, we’ve experimented with many options over the years. In addition, pot roast (made with gluten instead of meat) reigns among our family favorites. Lasagna roll-ups received rave reviews one year. The scalloped potatoes with a vegan ham alternative received call-backs for the following year.
Does our family miss the turkey centerpiece? No. In fact, many find it surprising that none of us find any issue with it. Perhaps it’s the fun of choosing a special main course.