I thought this dish turned out great, but I’m not sure how well-received it was. Those who tried it, seemed to like it. It also happened that it was placed right next to baked buffalo chicken, so who knows how that influenced things. The recipes that I wrote up for Taste of YSN were written for an audience of non-vegans, so feel free to skip right through the explanations.
This recipe really made me think about how the word “vegan” is perceived. I wanted people to know that my dishes were vegan, because I think it’s important. The word vegan kept a lot of people from trying the ranch dip however- which probably tasted better than any bottled ranch dip/dressing people have ever had. Seriously, I splurged and made it with Veginaise for that specific reason- usually I make it with silken tofu. Too bad, so sad for those who didn’t try it- all the more leftover dip for me!
A note of the buffalo sauce- I used sriracha, and added a tiny bit of brown sugar, corriander, and salt. It was delicious.
Buffalo Seitan with Vegan Ranch Dip
Seitan is sometimes called “the wheat meat.” It’s made by separating the gluten from flour and then simmering it in a flavored broth. Traditionally to make seitan, one needs to start with a high-gluten-content wheat flour and continually soak, kneed and wash it to separate the gluten from the rest of the flour. Fortunately, you can buy that final product, called vital wheat gluten, in the natural foods section of many grocery stores and Edge of the Woods to bypass this process. The seitan will take on the flavor of whatever you simmer it in, so you can play around with the broth seasonings to taste. If you really don’t even want to go to that trouble, you can buy prepared seitan at stores like Edge of the Woods or Whole Foods. Like most prepared foods, prepared seitan isn’t as good and costs a lot more, so you might want to consider making your own.
Veganaise is a vegan mayonnaise, as the name implies. It looks and tastes just like regular mayo, with just about all the fat and calories but none of the cruelty or cholesterol. If the fat/calories are a concern (or the sticker shock from the price is), you can use silken tofu instead. In a dish like this, it is far better to use the type of silken tofu that come packed in water as opposed to the tetra-packed variety, which has a stronger bean-y flavor. Make sure to drain the water thoroughly in this case, and additional lemon juice (or white vinegar) will probably be needed. If you go this route, you would use a blender to mix all the dip ingredients instead of a bowl and spoon.
To make the seitan:
1/2 Cup Vital Wheat Gluten
1/2 Cup water
Mix these together in a bowl. It will get too thick to use a spoon, so dig right in with your hands. Kneed for 5 minutes and set aside.
2 Cups of water
1 Cup vegan “chick’n” broth (sold in natural foods stores for lots of money, or in a powdered form in many Asian markets for cheap)
1 tsp each: thyme, dried parsley, rosemary, oregano, onion powder
1 bay leaf
garlic powder to taste
ground pepper to taste
In a large saucepan, bring the broth ingredients to a boil, and reduce the heat. Pinch off small pieces of the gluten (slightly smaller than bite sized) and drop into the broth. Cover the pan, and simmer. It is important to make sure that the broth does not come to a boil, so you’ll have to keep a close watch. Boiling seitan makes it tough and chewy, which might be good for some things, but not these. You will simmer these for about 50 minutes, stirring once every 10 minutes or so while the broth reduced. If by the end of 50 minutes it looks like bite-sized pieces of brain floating in the broth, you’ve done good. Remove from heat, but leave in the broth until ready to use. You can even stick this in the fridge at this point if you’re not ready to turn them into spicy chunks of deliciousness.
Preheat oven to 350F
2 Tbs Vegan margarine (such as Earth Balance)
2 Tbs Hot Sauce or Sriracha
Melt the above together in a small saucepan. Remove the seitan from the broth, and coat with the margarine mixture. Spread the coated seitan chunks out on a cookie sheet, and bake for 10 minutes. Remove to a bowl or serving platter, and pour any remaining margarine mixture over the seitan; toss to coat. Serve with Vegan Ranch Dip, recipe to follow.
Vegan Ranch Dip
1/2 cup Vegenaise
1/4 cup minced parsley
1 lemon, zested and juiced
salt, pepper and garlic powder* to taste
Add all ingredients to a small bowl and mix together. If lemon is particularly large or juicy, either consider yourself lucky or add the juice slowly until you reach the consistency you want. Less juice = more dip–like, more juice = more salad dressing-like. See introduction for lower fat alternative.
*Powdered garlic works much better than raw minced garlic here. If you feel up to it, a couple of roasted mashed garlic cloves work even better.