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« You Didn't Bring the Paczki? The Yogurt Invasion Continues »

Ingredient Sun Mar 29 2009

Upton's: Locally Made Seitan

I thought it'd be fun to shed a little light on a local food manufacturer that's been breaking new ground. Whole Foods stores throughout the Midwest region are, as of a few weeks ago, carrying a vegan pizza featuring Upton's Naturals Italian sausage-style seitan and Teese vegan mozzarella cheese, according to an email from Upton's Naturals. Both Upton's Naturals and Teese are local Chicago area products, and stand-outs in the vegan community.

Vegan Pizza.jpg

If you've tasted the nachos, vegan breakfast burrito, or vegan diablos at Handlebar, you've tasted Upton's chorizo flavored seitan. If you've had Handlebar's biscuits and gravy, you've had Upton's Italian flavored seitan. The same for the chicken in the salad and wrap: Upton's. Handlebar makes their own seitan for their BBQ sandwich, but you can see that Upton's is quite a staple. Their products are used in several other Chicago restaurants, and in my kitchen. Local grocers carry packages of the seitan: Green Grocer, Olivia's, W-Crossings, New Leaf Natural Grocery, Stanley's, Natural Direct home delivery, Ethical Planet, Hungarian Kosher and Kramer's - and all Whole Foods locations in Illinois and Wisconsin.

Upton's Naturals now has grab and go items exclusive to the Whole Foods in the South Loop on Roosevelt:

• Calzone with Italian sausage-style seitan, tomato & soy cheese with side of marinara sauce
• Empanada with chorizo-style seitan, potato & raisin with side of chipotle aeoli
• Orzo salad with chorizo-style seitan, black bean, corn and cilantro
• Rotini pasta salad with Italian sausage-style seitan & artichoke hearts
• Seitan sloppy joe
• Chicken-style seitan chipotle wrap with romaine & red pepper

The grab and go items are packaged in the refrigerated section across from the pizza counter, and sit next to other vegan items from the venerated Soul Vegetarian restaurant, and smores and vegan/vegetarian (gelatin-free) marshmallows by Sweet & Sara. Back to the right of the pizza counter, you'll find local vegan desserts from Chicago Diner in Lake View and frosted vegan cupcakes from Swirlz in Lincoln Park.

I got a slice pizza, checked out, and went to eat in the store's sit down area at the front. The slice came loaded with chopped bits of red, green and yellow, with garlic, mushrooms and spinach, as well as seitan and a sprinkling of vegan cheese. The red sauce was thick and nicely a bit tangy. The crust at the end was thick with a nice chew, while the rest of it was floppy. I took to rolling it up a bit to eat it, just like some might argue you should eat a slice of pizza. Then I went to work on an empanada. The potato added a nice thickness to the seitan, which hinted at the composition of the Handlebar's vegan breakfast burrito with potato and seitan. The raisins added a nice chew, the bread was soft, and the side of vegan chipotle aeoli was quite thick and spicy.

I'm a big fan of this seitan. I've used it many times and find it quite well seasoned. Here are some Upton's from my previous recipe posts:

Rosemary White Wine Sauté
Creamy Uncreamy Red Sauce
Savory Vegan Crepes

 
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Lee / March 30, 2009 10:06 PM

I just ate some Upton's in tomato sauce with pasta for dinner!

Katie / April 2, 2009 9:16 PM

Upton's seitan is also great mixed in with sauteed vegetables with quinoa. Or added to vegetarian chili. Or as breakfast sausage. The possibilities are endless!

illinois master gardener / April 3, 2009 7:41 AM

I am getting so hungry. It all sounds delish!

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

The State of Food Writing

By Brandy Gonsoulin

In 2009, food blogging, social media and Yelp were gaining popularity, and America's revered gastronomic magazine Gourmet shuttered after 68 years in business. Former Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball followed with an editorial, stating that "The shuttering of Gourmet reminds...
Read this feature »

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Drive-Thru is the food and drink section of Gapers Block, covering the city's vibrant dining, drinking and cooking scene. More...
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