Easter has been on my mind for a while now because it, along with Thanksgiving and Christmas, are important holidays where people gather for food and community. These days can be especially stressful for vegans because you’re expected to do something a little extra special on these occasions and omnivores are used to substantial, rib-sticking meals that are centered around meat. I’ve seen that many vegans and vegetarians are resorting to commercially made products that simulate roasts and thought, again, why not create something gorgeous that has identifiable ingredients and is made from scratch? Why not, indeed.
I used the gyros-style seitan because when I think of traditional Easter foods, lamb comes to mind. Back when I used to eat lamb, I’d season it with bold herbaceous flavors and lots of lemon. Since I wanted to create a dish that shared these flavors, to my mind, Mediterranean was definitely the way to go.
This meal is essentially three dishes rolled into one, and aside from the seitan, everything can be made a day or two beforehand to help de-stress the holiday. Alternatively, you could make and bake the entire braciole a day or two ahead, refrigerate it and then slice and brown it up the day of the meal. The longer it has to cool and set after baking, the better the roast will hold together.
For the braciole you will need:
1 recipe Gyros-style Seitan, uncooked in dough form
Mashed Potatoes with Celeriac, recipe follows below
Braised Mustard Greens, recipe follows below
Briny Cashew Cheese, recipe follows below
roasted red peppers
Mashed Potatoes with Celeriac
You will only need about a cup’s worth of this mash for the braciole but it makes a great side dish to fill out the meal, so make plenty to accompany the roast.
celeriac [Use half the amount as potatoes.]
roasted garlic, to taste [ 1 head garlic drizzled with olive oil and wrapped in foil. 400 degrees/45 minutes.]
Whenever I make these root vegetable mashes, I always use twice the amount of potato as I do other vegetable. Simply peel the vegetables and then cut into chunks. Place in a pot with cold water. The celeriac will probably float. Simmer until vegetables are fork tender. Drain and return to the pot to evaporate off any residual water. Add in roasted garlic and mash. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Set aside for later.
Braised Mustard Greens
1 lb mustard greens
1 onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
red pepper flakes
Sauté the onion in a drizzle of olive oil until softened. Add red pepper flakes and garlic and cook until you can smell the garlic cooking. Add the mustard greens and toss to coat. Add ¼ cup water and cook until wilted down but still bright green. Remove from heat and let cool. Place greens in a cheesecloth or clean kitchen towel and squeeze to remove all excess liquid. [You don’t want your braciole to be soggy inside.]
Briny Cashew Cheese
This makes a great appetizer as well slathered on flatbread crackers.
1 block firm silken tofu
1 cup raw cashews
Juice and zest of one lemon
1 T capers
10 Greek olives, pitted and diced
1 preserved lemon, diced
Place the tofu and cashews in a food processor and run until smooth. Add in juice and zest. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and stir in remaining ingredients. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Assembling the braciole:
Once you have mixed the wet and dry ingredients together to create the seitan dough, place upon a rolled out sheet of aluminum foil [2 feet long to give you ample room] and press out into a rectangular shape that has a thickness of about ½ an inch. It’ll be roughly a foot long by 8-9 inches wide. This is what you shall place subsequent layers upon and then roll the entirety into a log and bake. It is important to leave a couple of inches of seitan bare on the right-hand end so that when the log is rolled you will have seitan-seitan contact and the log will seal.
Top the seitan with a thin layer of mashed potato and celeriac, remembering to stop within a couple of inches of the right-hand end. Next, layer with some roasted red pepper and then some mustard greens [Don’t pile them too high, remember you have to roll over this]. Finally add a strip of cashew cheese down the center from top to bottom. If you want an entire layer of cheese that is fine, I wanted mine concentrated in the center of the roast and therefore only placed the cheese at the center.
Turn the braciole so that the right-hand end is now at the top and using the aluminum foil, begin to roll it upon itself until the log is formed. Use the foil to maintain the structure and seal the braciole. Add additional foil if necessary to cover the ends and fully seal the roast.
Bake for 90 minutes at 325°. Remove from oven and allow to rest for at least 20 minutes. Slice and serve as is, or as I prefer, brown the slices [or even the entire roast if you have a large enough fry pan] in a pan with a drizzle of olive oil.
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