Today I’m going to do something I haven’t done previously on my blog: I’m going to review someone else’s recipe, namely the recipe for Spicy Vegan Sausage from The Happy Herbivore Cookbook: Over 175 Delicious Fat-Free and Low-Fat Vegan Recipes by Lindsay S. Nixon.
I’ve mentioned this cookbook a few times before for a good reason: I’m a big fan of Lindsay’s simple and tasty recipes that call for everyday ingredients, and the layout of her book is very user-friendly, from the detailed table of contents to a very convenient recipe index.
This was one of the first cookbooks I bought when I switched to a vegan diet, and it saved my day many times on occasions when I didn’t have any ideas about what to make for dinner. The Happy Herbivore Cookbook is the first cookbook Lindsay published (in 2011). Since then, she released three more cookbooks that I would love to get at some point: Everyday Happy Herbivore, Happy Herbivore Abroad, and most recently, Happy Herbivore Light and Lean.
On to the recipe!
I’ve been on a quest lately to find a good recipe for Italian-style vegan sausage that would resemble the taste, smell and texture of traditional Italian sausage. This turned out to be easier said than done…
After a few not very successful experiments at home I even decided to buy premade vegan Italian sausage from a brand that’s sold in vegan sections of just about every grocery store (I normally don’t buy a lot of processed vegan foods at stores). That sausage turned out to be a major fail, it tasted very strongly of some weird chemical stuff…
Just as I was thinking of throwing in the towel, I decided to make Lindsay’s recipe from The Happy Herbivore Cookbook. I saw it when I was browsing through the book right after I had bought it, but at that point it seemed to me like too much work. This time, with the experience of making more complicated vegan recipes, I finally gave it a try – and I’m glad I did.
Was it really that hard to make? Nope. All in all, it took me maybe an hour and a half, with the actual manual effort of about 20 min.
The recipe is based on real ingredients (pinto beans, TVP, wheat gluten flour) that I found at my local health food store. There’s no fat added to these sausages, but they still turned out nice and juicy. For the reasons of copyright protection, and out of my respect for Lindsay’s work, I’m not listing the actual recipe here, but you can find it (and many more awesome recipes) in The Happy Herbivore Cookbook, page 150.
The Steps of Sausage Making
Step One. First, I made the sausage batter (not really sure if ‘batter’ is the right word to use here, but it sounds better to me than ‘sausage dough’ 😉 ). Basically, all of the ingredients are mixed together, the spices are added, and then a cup of water is mixed in. I decided to add chopped sundried tomatoes for an extra kick of Italian-ness, and it turned out to be a good idea. After that, I got to kneading the dough for a couple minutes. The recipe suggests that you shouldn’t cut the kneading short: it helps in pushing air bubbles out, otherwise the sausages might come out spongy.
Step Two. This part reminded me of my childhood: I loved playing with candy wrappers as a kid growing up in Uzbekistan, so I was glad to partake in that activity again by wrapping the divided sausage batter into aluminum foil, Tootsie roll-style. The amount of batter I had yielded four sausages:
Step Three. Once the sausages were wrapped, it was time to cook them. The recipe says that you need to use a steamer to do that. Thankfully, I happen to have this nice steamer basket that I’ve had for years, but only started actively using after going plant-based.
The basket is Cuisinart, and the base pot is Anolon. This steamer is very easy to use on stovetop as long as I don’t let the water evaporate completely (that happened once!). Don’t have a food steamer? Here’s a selection of steamers on Amazon.
The sausages needed to be steamed in a covered pot for 40 minutes. I went on to steam them for about 50 min ‘just to make sure’, but that didn’t make a difference.
Step Four. Once the sausages were done steaming, I took them out and put on a plate. They were still a little soft to touch, but I figured that they were supposed to harden as they cool down.
The recipe in the book suggested that the sausages needed to rest in the fridge “overnight or for at least four hours”, but it was unclear if I was supposed to unwrap them or leave the foil on. I decided to unwrap them carefully (they were still pretty hot!). This is what they looked like:Not bad, huh?
The sausages went into the fridge, first uncovered on a plate, then placed in a glass container with a lid. They stayed there for about 5 hours, from noon till it was time for me to start on the dinner.
Step Five: Dinner Time! Once my husband Rob came home, he was very excited with my experimentation: he grew up eating the delicious food cooked by his Italian mom, so even though he’s now convinced about the benefits of a plant-based diet, he still misses some of the Italian staples that call for sausage.
I decided to make a dish that we used to have all the time when we first moved in together – I call it sausage’n’kale, and the name is as descriptive as it gets (kale sautéed with onions, garlic and zucchini with sliced sausage added at the end). This dish is da bomb served with some steamed fingerling potatoes – that steamer is used a lot in my kitchen!
One thing you must be wondering about: How did these sausages turn out? Very well, I’ll admit! The texture was very similar to sausages made of meat, mostly because some of the base ingredients (pinto beans and TVP) weren’t blended into a paste, which was the case with the commercial sausages I bought at the store. The spice combo was spot-on and didn’t break down much during the cooking.
From my experience, these sausages taste best when used within 1-3 days of cooking because the absence of preservatives makes the texture a little off later.
Did I use these in any other recipes? Yes – a pasta dish with marinara sauce and lots of vegetables (Rob raved about it!), and I’ve got one more sausage left that I’m planning to put on a homemade pizza. Basically, I’ve managed to make 3 meals for 2 adults out of these four sausages.
Will I make these again? Definitely!
Have you had any luck making vegan sausages at home? If so, what recipes did you use?
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