Tuesday, July 23, 2013

"Chicken" parmigianas

When I used to eat out at a pub in my former omnivorous life it was a pretty safe bet there would be a chicken parmigiana on my plate. After looking through the menu and finding it difficult to make up my mind, I would usually play it safe and end up choosing the parma. Although chicken parmigianas disappeared from my pub order many years ago, animal-free versions are eaten at home instead.

For several years it's been easy to curb the occasional parma craving with the assistance of Fry's chicken-style schnitzels, topped with Napoli sauce and vegan cheese. A slice or two of tofu bacon is also added if there is any leftover in the fridge. It wasn't until the arrival of Vegan Diner that I gathered inspiration from a couple of the seitan recipes and began to think about recreating my own.

 The taste and texture of the seitan recipes I've made from Vegan Diner so far has been impressive. Julie Hasson seems to have a knack when it comes to nailing combinations of dried herbs and spices which provide the seitan with wonderful flavours. The wet to dry ratio of ingredients is perfect unlike other seitan recipes I've made where I have needed to reduce the amount of liquid. After I had made Julie's skillet-baked panko cutlets (which reminded me of chicken parmigianas with totally different seasonings) and chicken-style seitan roast I thought about morphing the two recipes to create some parmigianas.

The chicken-style seitan lists a poultry seasoning in the ingredients which is something I'm not familiar with. A quick search told me that it's basically a mixture of dried herbs, the blend of herbs varied a lot between different sources. I went with some marjoram, sage, parsley, thyme and vegan chicken stock in place of the soy sauce in the recipe. The seitan ingredients are mixed together briefly in a bowl rather then kneaded with rest periods in between which makes it very easy to prepare. After flattening pieces of dough between your palms to create the schnitzels, it's just a matter of steaming and then allowing them to sit overnight before putting turning them into parmas. 

The seitan schnitzels are coated with flour, soy milk and breadcrumbs before they are lightly browned in the pan. After being transferred to a baking dish they are topped with Napoli sauce and grated vegan cheese. I've included a recipe for a quick smooth Napoli sauce I used for the topping, if you don't have the time or inclination some tomato paste thinned with water or a pizza sauce with herbs will also suffice. The parmas only require a short bake in the oven as they only need to be heated through and for the cheese to melt.

The parmas were a household hit - the combination of herbs in the seitan worked out perfectly.  Comments were made about the kitchen smelling like roast chicken while the schnitzels were steaming. I made nine schnitzels out of this batch which were purposely on the smaller side as seitan is quite filling. A combination of roasted vegetables were a delicious accompaniment, another good partner for this meal would be a side of fries and salad. I'm so pleased to have a few more batches of these schnitzels waiting in the freezer for the next time my parma craving hits.

Chicken schnitzels (Adapted from Vegan Diner)
Makes 8-9

2 cups gluten flour
½ cup nutritional yeast flakes
¼ cup besan
1 tablespoon onion flakes
1 teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon white pepper
1 heaped teaspoon marjoram
½ teaspoon dried sage
½ teaspoon dried parsley
½ teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups vegan chicken stock (cold or at room temperature)

Place the gluten flour, nutritional yeast flakes, chickpea flour, onion flakes, marjoram, sage, parsley, thyme, salt and white pepper in a bowl and mix together thoroughly. Pour in the olive oil and vegan chicken stock and combine the ingredients with a spoon until a smooth dough forms.

Divide the dough into equal sized pieces and flatten each piece between your palms to a size of approximately 10 cm x 10 cm. Place the flattened dough pieces into a steamer basket lined with foil, allowing the schnitzels to overlap slightly if necessary. Steam for 40 minutes then allow the schnitzels to cool down completely. Refrigerate before using. The seitan schnitzels may also be frozen if you aren't using them all at once.

Quick smooth Napoli sauce
Makes enough sauce to top 3-4 schnitzels

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
¾ cup tomato passata
pinch of dried basil (or use a few fresh basil leaves)
sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a small saucepan. Add the garlic and allow it to sizzle for 10-30 seconds until the garlic begins to colour. Pour in the tomato passata and stir well then add the basil and season to taste. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Chicken Parmigianas

Preheat oven to 200C.

Set up three bowls for breading the schnitzels - plain flour in the first, soy milk with a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar in the second and breadcrumbs in the third. Cover a schnitzel with plain flour, wet it thoroughly with the soy milk mixture and then dunk it into the breadcrumbs ensuring it is well coated with the crumbs. Repeat for the other schnitzels.

Heat a frying pan over medium heat with some oil and fry the schnitzels until golden brown on both sides. Place the schnitzels in a baking dish, then top with Napoli sauce and grated vegan cheese.

Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes or until the cheese has melted.


  1. Those look so perfect, I don't think I've ever had a Chicken Parmigiana vegan or non & I think I need to rectify that asap!

    1. Thanks Jojo, I'm sure you would love them and you could always go down the easy route with Fry's schnitzels to start. They are a perfect comfort food!

  2. This one's going straight to my recipe folder! We're still tinkering with seitan over here, and one of my kitchen dreams is to recreate a chicken schnitzel-based dish from my childhood. You've offered the best lead yet. :-)

    1. Thanks Cindy, I hope it lives up to your expectations and you can recreate your childhood dish to a decent standard! I don't think this would fool a meat eater but it is the best chickeny seitan I've made.

  3. I was always a chicken parma girl (though I'd scrape most of the cheese off!). I don't miss the actual chicken parma one bit but I really love anything that's crumbed and topped with something melty. I'm not going to be making seitan anymore but I do have a Fry's shnitzel now and then. What sort of cheeze did you use?

    1. Thanks Veganopoulous, I've never missed chicken parmas either as Fry's have always been good enough for me. I used Cheezly mozzarella for this, I only buy it to use on parmas and pizzas as it melts so well.

  4. We love Fry's schnitzels too - albeit ours are served without cheese - so I'm really excited to see you've made something similar from scratch! I will have to give these a try - I'm a novice with seitan so I also like that I can understand the ingredient list!

    1. Thanks Kari, it was satisfying to make this from scratch rather than pull a product out of the freezer. I hope you enjoy this and experimenting with seitan, it may not be the healthiest ingredient but it's fun to play with every so often.

  5. Oh sweet - I remember parms with fondness from my pregan days, but haven't tried to recreate them since. I do like a bit of Frys though (and a bit of seitan too), but I'm not a fan of ready-made vegan cheese. Bet a bit of cashew cheese wouldn't go astray though! Those look really good - I can see why they were a success!

    1. Thanks Joey, I'm sure they would work well with a cashew cheese or perhaps one of the cheese recipes that melts from Artisan Vegan Cheese. Unfortunately I haven't been able to get those types of recipes from AVC to work yet. :(

  6. the smell of roast chicken in a vegan kitchen must be a strange experience but obviously very welcome in your kitchen - I can't say I was ever a chicken parma girl - though the idea of parma and pot appeals as an eating experience - but I do love the look of your melty vegan cheese

    1. Thanks Johanna, it was the smell of the herbs rather than roasting flesh that was likened to the smell of roast chicken! The smell of any cooked meat is enough to make my stomach turn.

  7. oh YUM! What a delicious treat! Will have to try that when I'm feeding naughty one time ;-)