Sometime in the 7th century, while making dough from wheat flour in a tub of cold water, monks in China noticed that the more they kneaded the flour, the more the starches dissipated. But they kept on kneading assiduously and were eventually rewarded with a chewy protein-rich substance which they then simmered in seasoned broth to lend it additional flavor. The monks named their culinary invention Mien Ching or Buddha’s Food.
Mien Ching made its way to Japan where chefs adapted the product by flavoring it with shoyu, kombu and ginger into what they called Fu. This is what Macrobiotics founder George Oshawa later named Seitan.
Nothing else too exciting happened in the world of textured wheat until sometime in the late 1970’s, when Seattle Chef David Lee decided to add a European flavor-profile to his own Seitan product calling it Field Roast.
Today, the Field Roast Grain Meat Company crafts a selection of nicely-textured, well-seasoned grain meat products, like their Italian Style vegan sausage which can be used effectively in a variety of alt-meat contexts.
Here’s a simple recipe for Veggie Bolognese.
Crumble four of the vegan sausages into a deep covered pan or dutch oven where you have already begun to saute a chopped a large red pepper, a medium-sized onion, and few lobes of garlic in extra virgin olive oil. Add a few minced capers and olives, a cup of chopped mushrooms, and a pinch of nutmeg.
Next, add a can of organic tomato paste, a half a cup of red wine, a half cup vegetable stock, and, a handful of minced fresh garden herbs such as Thyme, Sage, Parsley, Marjoram, Oregano, and Rosemary. If fresh herbs are not available you can also use dried herbs. Cover the pan and simmer on a very low flame for just a few minutes, stirring occasionally.
Prepare penne or fusilli pasta and add directly into the pan. Finish with black pepper, another splash of olive oil, a splash of balsamic vinegar, and about a half cup of shredded dry-aged cheese (or crumbled cultured nut-cheese if you’re vegan).