This recipe has been kid-approved by my 17-month-old and 10-year-old sons, who have polished this off without fail every time I’ve made it! I know there are a wealth of vegan mac ‘n’ cheese recipes out there already, but I’ve been experimenting a lot with different recipes and this one really stood out for me. The combination of BBQ sauce with mac ‘n’ cheese is amazing, and I LOVE LOVE LOVE these seitan goujons! This is also a fantastic combination in a sandwich on a crusty roll or a baguette.
Kid-approved by even the most grumpy of toddlers!
It’s fair to say that this is one of those recipes that hasn’t been an entirely smooth ride. When I came up with it, everything turned out exactly as I wanted. I decided to cook it again and photograph it for the blog. That’s when the fun began. First, I let the seitan boil for too long. Big mistake. I must have been trying to do too much at once, because when I realised the seitan was boiling vigorously it had obviously been doing so for several minutes and had expanded in volume a lot quicker than it should have, which makes the outside of the seitan spongy. Around the same time I realised this, I also realised I had put dark soy sauce in the cheesy sauce. The sauce was brown. Nobody wants to see a brown mac ‘n’ cheese! Fortunately, it still tasted great and the goujons turned out fine. We ate the mac ‘n’ cheese (yes, that’s the offending brown mac ‘n’ cheese Frankie is eating in the photo above) and I had enough goujons left over to save and photograph today. I made the mac ‘n’ cheese again today, and it turned out perfectly, so clearly yesterday I was having an off day. The way I see it, we got to eat mac ‘n’ cheese two days on the trot; win win!
To make the seitan goujons you’ll need to first make some seitan, and to make seitan you’ll need some vital wheat gluten. If you’re not familiar with this wonder ingredient I can’t recommend it highly enough. I haven’t been able to find it in any shops here in the UK so I bulk buy it on Amazon. I not only use it to make seitan but also add it to patties and burgers to give them a firmer texture and help them hold their shape during prep and cooking. You’ll also need nutritional yeast, not to be confused with baker’s yeast, which can sometimes be found in health food stores. Again, I buy it in bulk on Amazon. Nutritional yeast is another miracle ingredient which lends a delicious cheesy flavour to soups, sauces, dressings and in fact anything you like!
Seitan is probably the best meat substitute available. It is used to make Chinese mock duck, which you can buy canned from Asian stores and some health food stores. I’m sure it would work as a substitution for the seitan in this recipe, but I absolutely recommend homemade seitan as it has a far superior texture and flavour and you can dress it up or down by adjusting the seasonings. I usually use the ‘Simple Seitan’ recipe from Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moscowitz and Terry Hope Romero. It is possible to make seitan without using vital wheat gluten, but it takes a lot more time and effort. You can find a recipe for seitan using strong wheat flour rather than vital wheat gluten in The Fresh Vegan Kitchen by Charlotte and David Bailey. You have to knead the dough for about 25 minutes, compared to three minutes if you use vital wheat gluten, and leave it overnight. Either way, seitan will change your vegan cookery for good. It has a really toothsome texture and the best part, apart from the fact that it is cruelty-free of course, is that it is so versatile. Apart from the fact that you can control the flavour by adjusting the seasonings or alter the texture by adjusting the ratio of wet to dry ingredients, you can use it in so many different ways. You can add it to a recipe as a meat substitute, you can bread it and bake, fry or grill it, or you can put it in a sandwich, anything you like! This post from One Green Planet has some great tips for making seitan and this post from The Post Punk Kitchen has the recipe from Veganomicon which is my go-to seitan recipe. For the BBQ onions, I used this BBQ sauce recipe from Oh She Glows!
I hope you enjoy this recipe! I’ll be back over the weekend with a delectable vegan Bakewell Cheesecake!
See this and other great recipes at The Culinary Mama’s link party:
Mac ‘n’ Cheese with Seitan Goujons and BBQ Onions
For the mac ‘n’ cheese: 300g macaroni
1-2 tbsp olive oil
½ red onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
400g block firm tofu, drained but no need to press
500ml non-dairy milk
4tbsp nutritional yeast
½ tsp mustard powder
½ tsp turmeric
¼ tsp paprika
1 tbsp light soy sauce
½ tbsp red wine vinegar
Juice ½ lemon
Sea salt and black pepper
For the seitan goujons: 350g seitan
100g polenta (cornmeal)
2 tbsp plain flour
½ tsp salt
½ tsp paprika
½ tsp garlic powder
1 tbsp dried oregano
Olive oil spray
For the BBQ onions: 2 large onions, thinly sliced
2-3 tbsp BBQ sauce
1 tsp maple syrup
- Bring a large pan of water to the boil. Season generously with salt, add macaroni and stir. Bring back to the boil, stir again and cook according to package instructions. Drain and set aside. Preheat the oven to 200oC/gas 6/400oF.
- Meanwhile, heat the oil in a cast iron or other large heavy-based saucepan. Add the onion and garlic and sauté over a medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened. Blend the tofu in a food processor or high-speed blender with about 75ml water until smooth and creamy. Add to onion and garlic along with the non-dairy milk. Mix well and add nutritional yeast, mustard powder, turmeric, paprika, soy sauce and red wine vinegar. Bring to a low simmer, stirring well. Do not allow to boil.
- Keep stirring for about 5-10 minutes until the sauce has thickened slightly. Turn off the heat and stir in the lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Remove 250ml of the sauce from the pan and place in a measuring jug. Whisk into this enough water to thin out to a pourable consistency, about 50ml. Set aside for later.
- To the sauce in the pan, add the drained macaroni and mix well. Transfer to a large casserole dish and bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Pour over the sauce you set aside earlier and spread out across the mac ‘n’ cheese. Bake for about 10 more minutes until golden.
- While the mac ‘n’ cheese is cooking, make the goujons. Slice the seitan into strips or nuggets. In a shallow bowl, mix the polenta, flour, salt, paprika, garlic powder and dried oregano. Dredge each piece of seitan through the mixture to coat well. Heat a griddle pan over a medium-high heat. Spray with olive oil spray. Arrange the goujons in a single layer in the griddle pan. Press down lightly with a wooden spatula. Cook for 1-2 minutes on each side until lightly charred lines appear. Set aside wrapped in kitchen foil to keep warm. Cook in several batches to avoid overcrowding the pan.
- To make the BBQ onions, heat a large non-stick frying pan over a medium-low heat. Spray with olive oil and add the onions. Sauté for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until caramelised. Add the BBQ sauce and maple syrup and mix well. Continue to cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Serve the mac ‘n’ cheese topped with the BBQ onions and a handful of seitan goujons.