Ever since I moved to the United States eleven years ago, I’ve been fascinated by the ways of celebrating various national holidays around here. The 4th of July, like other summer holidays, are particularly appealing because of their laid-back vibe of family gatherings, cookouts, watching fireworks, etc. Rob and I usually spend this day together, and while there’s no need to cook up a storm just for the two of us, we still try to indulge in the traditional American cookout fare like hot dogs and hamburgers.
Our recent 4th of July cookout extravaganza: vegan hot dogs with Currywurst Ketchup Sauce, served with a side of my Easy Vegan Potato Salad
I’m glad that when we went vegan, we didn’t miss a beat finding plant-based alternatives to these American staples that are usually made from meat. Of course, there are a lot of recipes for vegan burgers and hot dogs online, but for those occasions when you just don’t feel like doing extra work, it’s nice to have an option of buying vegan meat alternatives in almost any store.
Recently I was contacted by Lightlife, the maker of a variety of plant-based meat alternatives, and asked if I’d be interested in trying out their Smart Dogs (their brand of hot dogs) this summer and sharing my opinion. I’ve seen Lightlife products in lots of grocery stores before (we’ve all used their tempeh!). Usually I’m pretty picky when it comes to meat alternatives, but since I haven’t tried Smart Dogs before, I decided to give them a try.
I knew I wanted to dress up my hot dog a little bit unconventionally. During the Oktoberfest season last year, Rob and I traveled to Leavenworth, WA – a beautiful small town just to the east of the Cascade mountains that’s famous for its lavish Oktoberfest celebrations. While there, we enjoyed some vegan sausages in one of the beer gardens. The sausages came with an array of topping options, and you’ll have to trust me that I piled mine with as many as I could 🙂 . One of my favorites was the traditional German Currywurst sauce that brightened up the flavors of the sausage along with some sauerkraut, pickles and onions. The idea of topping a sausage with Currywurst sauce again stayed with me, so when I started thinking of making Lightlife’s Smart Dogs for our 4th of July weekend feast, it was the first one to pop up in my mind.
I found various recipes for German Curryurst sauce online. Some of them seemed relatively easy while others looked a bit complicated. I knew that I didn’t want to slave away at the stove on a hot weekend, so I decided to keep it simple. I used this recipe as a guideline and tweaked it a bit to simplify the ingredients (I found that soy sauce does the job just fine in place of Worcestershire, plus I decided against seeking out beef broth alternatives). The whole process of making my sauce took no longer than 20 minutes, during which I also managed to prep the rest of the ingredients. I decided to call my version Currywurst Ketchup because it resembles the texture of ketchup quite a bit, plus I never tried the actual Currywurst in Germany, so I can’t claim that my sauce version is 100% authentic. It does resemble the sauce we tried at a German pub in Leavenworth though, plus it’s friggin’ delicious, so you have my word 🙂
Our assembled hot dogs were topped with chopped pickles, caramelized onions, and a generous helping of my Currywurst Ketchup. I grilled the Smart Dogs on the stovetop using my nonstick grill pan by Calphalon similar to this one, but please feel free to use an outdoor grill if you have it. Both Rob and I were impressed with the flavor and texture of Smart Dogs, and how much they resembled the meat hot dogs we grew up eating. A generous helping of my Easy Vegan Potato Salad made a great side. Our bellies were full well before the fireworks started 🙂
Note: Before anyone comments that hot dogs are not healthy, etc. – I’m in no way suggesting that we eat them every day, three times a day 🙂 However, for once-in-a-while occasions when we find ourselves examining our options at a cookout, or just craving a hot dog, it’s great to have such an easily accessible, tasty and affordable option as Smart Dogs by Lightlife.
Homemade Currywurst Ketchup adds a nice flavor punch to these vegan summertime hot dogs inspired by the traditional German Currywurst flavors. Serve with a side of vegan potato salad and your favorite cookout staples.
- 4 Smart Dogs by Lightlife (or your favorite vegan hot dogs)
- 4 vegan hot dog buns
- 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 1 Tbsp high-heat oil* (I used avocado oil by Chosen Foods),
- 3-4 small pickles, chopped
- 1 recipe of Easy Vegan Potato Salad (optional)
- 1 cup ketchup (preferably organic - I used Annie's brand)
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 3 Tbsp mild curry powder
- 1 Tbsp granulated onion
- 1/2 Tbsp granulated garlic
- 1/4 tsp allspice
- 1 Tbsp soy sauce
- 1/2 - 1/2 cup water
- In a medium heavy-bottomed pan, cook the sliced onions with a pinch of salt and black pepper in oil over low heat, stirring frequently, until the onions get dark and caramelized, about 20 min. Meanwhile, prepare the Currywurst Ketchup.
- While the ketchup and the onions are cooking, grill 4 Smart Dogs on a grilling pan (I used a pan by Calphalon similar to this one) or a hot outdoor grill.
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, warm up the ketchup until it just starts bubbling. Add baking soda and stir well to get the mixture foaming. Continue stirring until the foaming subsides, about 1 min.
- Add the rest of the ingredients from curry powder to soy sauce. Stir well. Add 1/4 cup water to thin out the sauce. If it seems too thick, add more water 1 Tbsp at a time until desired consistency, up to 1/2 cup total. Let simmer on low for 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly before serving over your hot dogs.
- Put the grilled hot dogs into the buns, top with Currywurst Ketchup, caramelized onions and chopped pickles. Enjoy!
*Alternatively, spray the pan and the onions with a bit of oil spray to cut down on the amount of oil used.
Question for you: What are your favorite hot dog toppings? Let us all know in the comments!
*Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post by Lightlife. While the company provided me with a compensation and a variety of products to try, all of my opinions above are honest and unbiased.
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