Horta = Vegetable. Hortamatic = Traditional recipe gone veganized goodness.


December 16, 2009

The Salisbury Steak Challenge

Syba says, "Where're the Greens?

Intros and Inspirations

Full disclosure: I cannot remember what a salisbury steak tasted like, apart from a hazy memory of a tv dinner I did not much like. However, Hortamatic has been challenged by food critic Joe (we'll call him Joe H.) to make salisbury steak, and thus, to defend her honor, accepted the challenge!

To discover what this steak was I reviewed several meat recipes, most of which included some form of gravy, ketchup, and oats. Bon appetite!

History of Dish

It appears that Salisbury Steak has had a bit of an identity problem throughout the ages, being insultingly called 'hamburger with gravy,' and so-on. The dish itself was created by Doctor Salisbury, who foreshadowed the loopy Adkins diet with his recommendation to eat his steak and less vegetables.1 Dr. Salisbury was also convinced that “Diarrhea suffered by the troops could be controlled with a diet of coffee and lean chopped beefsteak.2 We honor him here today eating our salisbury without any greens and a double shot of espresso.


This recipe will make you about seven steaks. This is enough for two people if you are Rob and I, or three people if you eat normal, healthy portions.

Making the Steak

  • In a medium saucepan, boil 4 cups of water with 6 T soy sauce and 3 bay leaves
  • In a mixing bowl, measure out 1 cup of vital wheat gluten.
  • To this, add and stir together: 1 T garlic powder, 1 t fresh ground pepper, 1/8 t tumeric, 2 heaping T nutritional yeast flakes, 1 T ketchup, and 2 T oil (canola or olive)
  • Take 1/3 cup of the warm broth and stir it into the above mix.
  • Knead the resulting ball until firm (about 2 minutes).

  • Flatten the ball and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place it in a pre-heated frying pan and sear on both sides for about 2 minutes each until brown and crispy.3

  • Remove seitan from frying pan and slowly plop into the awaiting broth.
  • Cook at a low simmer for 30 minutes, then flip and cook another 30 minutes.
  • During the last 10 minutes, add ¼ cup red lentils.4
  • When finished, strain out the lentils and retain the broth for your gravy.

Making the Gravy

In the meantime, don't just sit there and eat the biscotti you made for another post, start making your gravy.

  • In 2 T Earth Balance, saute ½ of a chopped onion and 1 cup chopped portobello (about 1 mushroom)
  • Add 1 T soy sauce, ¼ t thyme powder, and ¼ t sage powder. Stir well.
  • Once mushrooms are tender, about 5 minutes, add mixture of ¼ cup flour and ¼ cup corn starch and let cook for about a minute.
  • Slowly whisk in the strained broth to the mushroom mixture, keeping heat medium.
  • Cook and whisk for another 5 minutes, until gravy is bubbly and thick.

Putting the Salisbury Into the Steak

Now we're getting down to business. Into what Dr. Salisbury intended all those years ago. Get ready to kiss those runs goodbye.

  • Into your blender, put: 2 T ketchup (ew!), 2 T canola, and the reserved (shy) lentils.
  • Squeeze out your straining seitan, and add to blender.
  • Pulse the mixture several times until well blended like so. Pulse rather than blend because you want it to be like ground beef, not like a smoothie.

Vegan brains!

  • Scrape mixture into the mixing bowl you used earlier.
  • Add ¼ cup of oat flour and mix will. Now you are ready to form your patties.


Some bake, some fry. Tomayto, tomahto. I added about 2 T oil to my cast iron fry pan, shaped these into patties, then fried them for about 4 minutes each side.


All done! Serve with mashed potatoes, as we did (“Please don't add soymilk to me!” – Potatoes) or broccoli, green beans, and coffee. Both out of respect for Dr. Salisbury, and for Joe H., we omitted any greens even though it is the holiday season.


Whether or not this actually tastes like salisbury steak is up to you to decide, but Rob reports it did taste like the dish he remembers, only missing the green beans (and cardboard box).


1 http://www.foodreference.com/html/artsalisburystk.html

2 http://www.case.edu/artsci/dittrick/cemetery/stop9.htm

3 The searing seitan idea inspired by Vegan Lunchbox's Potroast recipe.

4 Inspired by this wonderful site: http://www.myvegancookbook.com/recipes/recipe.php?id=50 . While you're at it, try his recipe! I have not, but it looks delicious.


  1. awesome stuff Eleni! and a coffee connection to doc sal too. love it love it. noelle and i are going to make it next week. can't wait to indulge!