It seems barbaric to me that every American holiday requires some sort of animal sacrifice. Our friends the turkeys will be thankful to you for making this seitan (“say-tan”) “turkey” roast for your signature holiday dish. You can serve thick slices smothered in mushroom gravy or slice it deli-thin on a meat slicer or mandolin, but I found a thin bread knife to work very well also. The texture is spot-on, and the flavor will surprise you with how close it is to its meat counterpart. Choose whatever dry seasoning you’d like for a coating, such as freshly ground black pepper, honey hickory rub, or Cajun seasoning. Because you prepare this roast a day ahead, you’ll have plenty of room left in your oven for all your favorite side dishes.

Ingredients:

1 package extra-firm tofu, such as Heiwa

¼ cup nutritional yeast

½ cup water (scant)

2 tablespoons neutral oil

2 tablespoons tapioca starch/flour

2 tablespoons organic sugar

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

1 tablespoon vegetable base, such as Better Than Bouillon No Chicken flavor

2 teaspoons onion powder

2 teaspoons garlic powder

1 teaspoon dried rosemary

1 teaspoon liquid smoke

½ teaspoon dried sage

1 cup vital wheat gluten

3 tablespoons dry rub seasoning

Directions:

  1. Coarsely crumble the tofu onto a dishtowel and forcefully wring out the liquid until the tofu is as dry as possible.
  2. Place the tofu chunks in your food processor and add the remaining ingredients EXCEPT the vital wheat gluten and dry rub (i.e., nutritional yeast through sage, in the ingredients list above). Process on high speed until very smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl a couple of times.
  3. Add the vital wheat gluten and process on low for about two minutes, but stop sooner if your food processor seems like it’s straining too much.
  4. Transfer the dough to your countertop and knead it for three minutes or so. The dough will be sticky at first but will firm up slightly and become more elastic. Form the dough into a compact cylinder about 7 inches long.
  5. Tear off a sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil 16-by-18 inches and place it with the shorter end closest to you. Spray the lower two thirds with nonstick cooking spray. Keep it about 3 inches away from the left and right sides. Sprinkle the dry rub seasoning on the sprayed area.
  6. Place the dough cylinder on the end of the foil closest to you and carefully roll it back-and-forth over the seasoning, thoroughly coating the whole roast.
  7. Start with the roast at the end of the foil closest to you and tightly roll the roast upward toward the top, snugly folding in the sides of the foil as you would if you were making an eggroll or burrito.
  8. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Place the foil-wrapped roast directly on the oven shelf and bake for 30 minutes.
  9. Remove the roast from the oven and carefully unwrap it, but leave it sitting on the foil. Be gentle here, as it will be a little wiggly and jiggly. Return it to the oven for another 40 minutes.
  10. Remove the roast from the oven and let it cool uncovered atop the foil until it reaches room temperature.
  11. Reseal the foil and refrigerate the roast overnight, when it will be ready to slice and serve. You can slice the whole roast at once and store portions in the freezer, but it will keep in the refrigerator for at least a week so you’ll have it available for sandwiches and snacks.

Wendy Andresen lives in Camden with her husband, Ray; her Sheltie, Sunshine; and her bunny, Rustle. She welcomes responses to her column at wendyandrayzer@yahoo.com.