Making a vegan meatloaf is a real possibility even if it does sound impossible. A combination of seitan and textured vegetable protein is perfect for recreating the texture and with a few herbs, spices and flavourings we can easily recreate the flavour of a perfect meatloaf and it is completely plant-based.
The texture is one of the most important things to get right when trying to make an authentic substitute meatloaf.
I have made vegan versions of meatloaf with beans, lentils, mushrooms and all kinds of other ingredients but when you use these kinds of legumes you are really making a bean loaf or lentil loaf. There is nothing wrong with this and you can pack in the flavours but it is not really the same as meatloaf.
This is where we introduce seitan.
What Is Seitan?
Seitan is a plant-based protein that really has the texture of meat. If you haven’t heard of seitan before it really is perfect for creating vegan meat substitutes.
It is made from wheat and you can actually make it yourself from a bag of white bread flour. In essence, seitan is made by removing a lot of the starch and carbohydrates from wheat flour leaving mostly just the protein behind. This process is called washing the flour and simply uses water so no hidden chemicals or intensive processes.
The great thing about seitan though is you can buy flour that has already had the starch removed and this is called vital wheat gluten.
Vital wheat gluten looks just like plain flour and can be made into a dough in just the same way. This means we can add stock, herbs, spices and mix it with the gluten flour to create a meat textured as well as flavoured protein.
Creating Texture In Our Seitan Meatloaf
On its own seitan is going to be far too dense and meaty to create a meatloaf that is made from ground meat. There is a certain crumbly texture to meatloaf that we need to try and replicate.
To create this texture we can use a ready-made product called textured vegetable protein.
Textured vegetable protein or TVP is a protein typically made from soya beans and is often used as a minced meat replacement.
The texture of TVP is perfect for breaking up the dense texture of seitan and creating a crumbly texture that you would expect on meatloaf.
Flavouring The Meatloaf
To get the right flavour for our seitan meatloaf we want to first introduce the savoury and umami character of meat and then we can add seasonings and flavours that you would add to a normal meatloaf.
To get a meaty flavour we want to add really savoury flavours to the seitan that are high in glutamates or umami character. There are quite a few plant-based and vegan ingredients that have these qualities and a combination of these can work together to achieve a really complex flavour with lots of depth.
- Soy sauce
- Tomato puree
- Onion powder
- Garlic powder
- Yeast extract/mushroom powder
- Miso paste
All these ingredients are really savoury, salty and are high in glutamates which will give us a meaty flavour for our meatloaf.
Next, we want to include some flavours that you might typically expect in a meatloaf:
- Tomato ketchup
- Cayenne pepper
You can always customise the flavours you want to add. Use whatever herbs and spices you like, I have made a Mediterranean inspired meatloaf with sundried tomatoes and basil which worked really well.
- 1.75 cups TVP (textured vegetable protein)
- 1 medium onion diced
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 135g vital wheat gluten
- 35g gram flour / chickpea flour
- 2 tbsp onion powder
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp dried sage
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 575ml water
- 4 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp miso paste
- 1 tbsp yeast extract / mushroom seasoning
- 1 tbsp tomato puree
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- 1 tsp liquid browning
- 3 tbsp ketchup
- 2 tsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp tomato puree
- 1 tsp cider vinegar
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- Start by lining a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with baking parchment and setting to one side.
- Combine the wet ingredients in a bowl and set to one side, combine the dry ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly and set to one side.
- To prepare the texture ingredients put the oil in a large skillet and add the onion. After 4 - 5 minutes add the garlic and cook until the onions are translucent.
- To the onions add the wet ingredients you combined earlier, bring to a simmer and then add the TVP. Simmer for a few moments till the TVP is rehydrated. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 30 minutes.
- Preheat an oven to 175°C / 350°F.
- After 30 minutes or so add the liquid and TVP mixture to the dry ingredients. Combine with a wooden spoon for a minute or so to ensure the vital wheat gluten and TVP are evenly mixed.
- Turn the mixture into the loaf pan and press it into the corners. Smooth the top and then cover with the excess baking paper. Cover the pan with foil and then place it in the centre of the oven to bake for 1 hour.
- While the meatloaf is baking prepare the glaze ingredients by mixing together in a bowl.
- After baking for an hour remove the meatloaf and take off the foil. Brush the glaze over the top of the meatloaf evenly and return to the oven for 15 minutes uncovered.
- After 15 minutes remove the meatloaf and allow it to stand for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes carefully lift out the meatloaf and remove the paper and slice before serving.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 212Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 534mgCarbohydrates: 22gFiber: 6gSugar: 7gProtein: 23g