Sunday, February 7, 2010

Vegan Braciole Made with Beefy Seitan – recipe in process

Today was an experiment in the kitchen day. My hubby used to love braciole and has been waiting for me to make a vegan version for a very long time. Today I decided to give it a go. What was the worth thing that happened, it didn’t turn out? No big deal, it wouldn’t be my first or last mistake.

For those of you that aren’t Italian, braciole is traditionally veal or beef that is stuffed and cooked in marinara sauce. My normal stuffing was golden raisins, pine nuts, parsley, parmesan, pancetta and breadcrumbs. Obviously I left out the parmesan and pancetta. I also decided to leave out the bread crumbs since it isn’t E2L friendly. When I looked at my original recipe it also called for egg, which I could have substituted with pureed tofu. But I opted not to use that today. I added a few julienned sun-dried tomatoes for additional savory flavor. The entire stuffing amounted to approximately 1 ½ cups.

I used an entire recipe of my beefy seitan for the veal, but with a few changes. This time I omitted the oil and replaced the bread crumbs with cooked quinoa. I have to admit I was surprised that it worked so well. The texture was still nice and tender. Quinoa will be used in my seitan going forward.

The part of the process that had me a little stumped was how to make the meat in a roll, but get the interior of the seitan to cook completely without making the outside tough. I decided to try searing the outside of the seitan on my cast iron griddle pan or both sides and then steam baking it for a while (30 minutes) before stuffing it and baking it more. I used the cooking method from the beefy seitan cutlets.

I learned a few things during the process:

• It is really difficult to move an 11 by 14 inch raw seitan slab to a hot cast iron griddle pan by yourself. Next time I will elicit help, or use my metal pizza peel, which my brilliant hubby recommended after the fact.

• Also difficult is flipping the partially cooked seitan.

• Baking the seitan for 30 minutes is not enough to make it easy to roll up with the stuffing. Next time I will start with 45 minutes before stuffing.

• It is important to both tie the rolled seitan and then wrap it in the aluminum foil before putting it back into the oven to bake for another 45 minutes. Using both the ties and aluminum foil keeps it together while baking. The ties make it easier to cut if you decided to speed up the process half way through cooking (which I did).

• Quinoa makes a wonderful substitute for breadcrumb in the seitan.

• If the braciole in its whole form and is taking too long to cook it can be cut into serving sizes and baked as slices to speed up the cooking.

The results were quite tasty, but this was definitely a bit unwieldy to deal with by myself. Next time I will make involtini instead (individual servings of rolled stuffed “meat”).

I am not posting the specific directions since I wasn’t taking notes this time when I cooked. I knew this was going to take me a time or two to get the cooking method down. However, I have a good start on it and will be playing around with a few changes in the coming weeks since I now know that I can make tender seitan without bread crumbs.


  1. Looks like you've made good headway into the world of vegan was one of my favorite meals growing up...I can't wait to try a vegan version...keep the hints and tips coming.

  2. Rose,

    Braciole was one of my favorite meals too. I don't know what it was, but I always loved it.

    The seitan with quinoa worked out much better than I expected. It was nice and tender, just like with the breadcrumbs.

    The trouble today was with the size of the slab of seitan. I tried to make huge slab and that made the process more difficult than necessary.

    Did your mom also make involtini? I think by making individual servings the entire process will be a piece of cake. Do you have any thoughts on this?


  3. No, my mom never made the involtini, but I remember there being 3 or 4 medium-sized braciole rolls, so maybe she just made smaller rolls.

  4. Rose,

    Sounds like you mom did something in between braciole and involtini. Smart woman your mom. She made the process easier to manage. It should work well with seitan too. I will keep it in mind.


  5. I have to say, I love your lessons learned! I really need to try one of your seitan recipes.

  6. Heather,

    You should try to make seitan. I avoided making it for a long time. But it is really easy to make, much easier than I expected.


  7. That looks mouthwatering! I will have to try that one - thanks for the hints!

  8. That looks so delicious! I'm so impressed with your experiment, it sounds like you're going to the right direction! I'm excited to learn that cooked quinoa worked out as nice as breadcrumbs, I can't wait to try that idea.

    This is the first time I've heard about Braciole and it sounds so yummy! I'm wondering what your parents would say when they try your vegan version???

  9. Susan,

    You are welcome. It is still a work in process, but it is close. I knew there were a few part Italian readers that would want to know how this was coming sooner rather than once I get it perfected. If you try it and have any suggestions please let me know.


    I actually delivered some to my parents. My father thought it was great. I haven't heard anything from my mom yet.


  10. Okay, at the risk of being unceremoniously booted out of the People-of-Italian-Heritage Club, I confess I've never even heard of braciole, never mind eaten any, vegan or otherwise! (Ditto involtini). Perhaps it's because my mother detests cooking ( traumatized by the first dinner she cooked as a new bride when she burned the peas into little carbon lumps), so she rarely attempted anything more ambitious than stuffed green peppers. But I don't recall any other members of the Italian branch of my family tree, who cooked up a traditional storm, ever making or discussing braciole either. They were spaghetti and ravioli people. Maybe it's not a traditional Tuscan dish? Or maybe my family were a bunch of impostors? (Nah, that can't be it, they talk with their hands, and threaten to kill each other one minute and then hug and toast "la familia" too much, to not be Italian! LOL)

    Since you started mentioning bracioli, I'm seeing it everywhere on vegan blogs! Isn't it funny how that happens?

  11. Lalo,

    My family is mostly Southern Italian, so maybe that is the original of the dish. Can't say for certain since I don't know.

    Your mom sounds like mine. My mother has always hated to cook and did everything she could to avoid it at all costs. We ate out a lot when I was growing up. Most of my childhood food memories are in restaurants. Sad, huh?

    Love the description of your family. They are definitely Italian! ;)



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