Seitan and Lentil Loaf

MAKES: 4 to 6 servings (1 to 11/2 pounds)

TIME: About 2 hours, largely unattended

Think of a vegetarian meat loaf, only with a chewier, less crumbly texture. This is among the most versatile recipes in this chapter indeed, in the entire book and just may become a permanent ingredient in your fridge or freezer. For appetizers, cool it down and slice it thinly to eat it , with mustard and crackers. Chopped, it becomes a tasty and protein-rich addition to Fast Fresh Tomato Sauce. Or cut the loaf into cubes and use it in stir-fries.

3/4 cup vital gluten flour

1/3 cup dried lentils

1 recipe Dark or Golden Simmering Liquid for Seitan

Put the vital gluten flour and lentils in a large bowl. Or, if you’re mixing and kneading by machine, put it in a food processor fitted with the short plastic blade or in the bowl of an upright mixer fitted with a dough hook.

Add 3/4 cup water and mix until it is all absorbed. Knead (by hand or machine) for a minute or two. If loose flour remains, add a couple more drops of water, but be careful not to add too much. The dough should be one big, slightly rubbery mass. Continue kneading right in the bowl by hand for 5 minutes or so, by mixer for a couple of minutes, or by food processor for 30 seconds or so. Cover the dough with a cloth and let it rest for at least 20 minutes but no more than 30. Meanwhile, mix up either the Dark or the Golden Simmering Liquid in a large pot with a lid.

Shape the dough into an oval loaf, rolling it around the bowl to capture any stray lentils. (Don’t worry; it will plump considerably.) Set the loaf in the simmering liquid and bring to a boil. (It’s okay if it isn’t submerged.)

Lower the heat so that the mixture bubbles gently and cover. Cook, using tongs to turn the seitan once or twice, for about an hour. Test by cutting a slice off the end with a knife, and if you want it a little less dense, cook for another 15 to 30 minutes. Cool in the liquid before storing or using.

Variation

Seitan and Mushroom Loaf. Use a food processor fitted with a metal blade to pulverize about 1/4 ounce of dried shiitake or porcini mushrooms. You should have about 1/3 cup, and it’s okay if there are still some small chunks. Use the mushrooms instead of the lentils and proceed with the recipe.