Ready for another Ingredient of the Week? Today I’ll take a stab at demystifying vital wheat gluten. 

brm a9cd8516db2a8477e8a3da3c46e5fdad - Ingredient of the Week: Vital Wheat GlutenSo I know it sounds a little crunchy-granola meets mad food-scientist, but vital wheat gluten is actually very approachable—all it is is the protein in wheat. As it contains around 75% protein, it’s a pretty good option for vegetarians—one serving has over 20 grams of protein.

One of the most common ways you’ll see it is in seitan, a vegetarian meat alternative. However, it is often used in commercial breads and baked goods to improve dough elasticity (gluten is very stretchy). If you’re baking at home, adding a little vital wheat gluten to the dough is a perfect way to achieve a light yet doughy texture. You can also try adding it to veggie or bean-burger batter.

Lately, I’ve been really into making seitan at home. Once I found out how easy it was, I decided never to buy the over-seasoned, rubbery stuff from the store. Here’s my current favorite recipe. In fact, I just made it the other night!

img 1810 - Ingredient of the Week: Vital Wheat Gluten

seitan with vegan gravy

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1.5 c. vital wheat gluten
  • 1/4 c. nutritional yeast
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1-2 t. pepper
  • 3/4 c. cold water
  • 4 tbsp miso paste
  • 2 tbsp olive oil or sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1-3 cloves garlic or garlic powder to taste
  • 1-2 drops liquid smoke

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 300°.
  2. In a large mixing bowl mix dry ingredients. Mix the rest of the ingredients (liquid ingredients) in a smaller mixing bowl. Whisk well until mixed.
  3. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients. Mix well, then knead for several minutes.
  4. Form into a log (6-8″ long), wrap tightly in foil, twisting ends. Bake for 90 minutes. When done baking, unwrap and leave out to cool all the way. Then wrap it foil or plastic and refrigerate. Slice to use as desired.

I’ve tried a few different kinds and so far my favorite vital wheat gluten has been from Bob’s Red Mill. It’s relatively easy to find in the baking section of most mainstream grocery stores, but you’re probably more likely to find it in a place like Whole Foods.

If you have any favorite vital wheat gluten recipes or ideas for recipes, I’d love to hear them!

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