Thursday, 17 May 2012

Seitan ragu

I love, love, love seitan, it is so incredibly tasty and a really simple ingredient to use. It lends itself really well to dishes like ragus, chillies, veggie patties and other comfort food dishes. Seitan is made from wheat gluten so this may not be a great choice if you have a sensitive digestion and I wouldn't recommend you eat it too frequently. From personal experience, I think too much gluten can gunk up your digestion a little. Saying that, once in a while, it is a fun ingredient to cook with, especially if you're cooking for people that are used to meatier meals! 

It has fascinating beginnings and is said to have been created way back in history in China by Buddhist monks, though the practice of flavouring it in broth originated later in Japan. After rinsing a flour and water dough several times, you are left behind with just the gluten, this is then simmered in water with delicious things added like tamari and kombu giving it that light flavour and colour. Many people seem to prefer it over tofu as it has some 'bite' to it and more favour, though of course if you cook with tofu right, that too is delicious.

You can make your own seitan pretty easily (though a little time consuming), this is something I have been meaning to try forever, perhaps this week I will give it a go....! Luckily for me, you can pick it up either chilled, frozen or in a jar - my favourite by far is the Yakso jarred version; it is organic, contains no thickening agents or vegetable oils and is flavoured with kombu - a highly nutritional sea vegetable. We get ours from here:

Seitan ragu

1 jar of seitan, drained and diced (about 200g of homemade or frozen)
1 onion, finely diced
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
6-8 shiitake mushrooms (or chestnut), finely diced
1 large or 2 small carrots, finely grated
1 jar of passata sauce (600g ish)
1 stick of celery, finely diced
1 heaped tsp dried oregano
1 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
1/2 tsp ground paprika
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
2 tbsp olive oil for cooking

In a large pan, lightly saute all the vegetables in the olive oil until just softened, about 5-10 mins. Then add the passata, herbs and seasonings. Bring this just to a boil, immediately reduce the heat to a simmer and add the seitan. Let this simmer away for about 30 mins until nicely thickened.

That is it! It is a super easy dish, you can serve this over wholemeal pasta, rice, courgette 'noodles', baked sweet potatoes or millet! enjoy :)

Seitan before slicing up for the ragu

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