Friday, 16 December 2016

Vegetarian Sausage

We always have a vegetarian at the table for Christmas dinner, so I always have to come up with at least one dish that is reasonably festive and suitable for them. And of course, everyone else will want to try it too.

Wheat gluten, sold as vital wheat gluten or gluten flour, is the protein part of wheat with the starch removed. In the old days you had to rinse it out yourself and it was a bit of a chore. Now, you can buy it ready to go. Like bread, the sausage mixture should be kneaded until the gluten forms strands and becomes smooth and a bit rubbery; it's these strands that give the result a meat-like texture. It can be hard to cook these gluten based mixtures so they aren't dry; a lot of recipes add beans, tofu, or vegetables to keep them moist. Good tasting yeast is often added because it has a distinctly chicken-like flavour, especially when combined with the right herbs.

It's both a nuisance and a benefit that these are best cooked in advance, then fried to reheat them and put a nice crisp finish on them. It makes them a bit of a project, but the final cooking is fast and easy and not too much work at the last moment.

It took me a couple of tries to get these satisfactory, and we have been enjoying them cut up into slices, fried and then put in tomato sauce, and served over pasta. I tried forming some into cutlets, which gives you lots of crispy surface but the soft, sausagey interior seems odd that way. We prefer them sausage shaped. Patties might be more convincing, and would be good on a bun.

8 to 12 servings
1 hour 20 minutes - 40 minutes prep time - plus 15 minutes to fry
 - but not including 1 hour to soak the lentils

Vegetarian Sausage

1 cup red lentils
1/4 cup dried tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon salt
boiling water
1 cup grated carrot
2 cups grated (raw) beets
4 to 6 cloves of garlic
1/3 cup good tasting yeast
1/3 cup chick pea flour
4 teaspoons poultry seasoning
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sweet Hungarian paprika
1/2 cup mild vegetable oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 cup gluten flour

Put the red lentils, dried tomatoes, and salt into a glass or ceramic mixing bowl (which will hold the heat better than metal or plastic) and pour boiling water over them to cover generously. Cover the bowl and let sit for 1 hour.

Wash, peel, and trim the carrots and beets. Grate and measure them into the bowl of a food processor. Add the remaining ingredients except the gluten flour, and process until well blended. Add the drained lentils and tomatoes, and process again. The mixture should be fairly smooth but with some texture to it; quite a bit like actual sausage meat.

Turn the mixture out into a mixing bowl, and stir the gluten flour in by hand. Turn the mixture out onto a clean, dry counter top or sheet of parchment and knead for a few minutes. It will be fairly sticky, but should form a soft but cohesive ball.

Cut the mixture into 8 to 12 equal portions. Form them into "sausages" and roll them up in pieces of parchment paper, folding over the ends to make a neat packet. Steam them for 40 to 45 minutes, until firm to the touch.

To serve, fry the sausages in oil until brown on all sides and serve hot.

These can be frozen, or will keep in the fridge for up to a week before being fried.

Last year at this time I made Fresh Raw Cranberry Orange Relish.


Chiara M said...

What an interesting recipe. I've been on a lentil kick this year and would love to give these a go. Can you clarify what you meant by "good tasting yeast"? Is that a brand, or could I use nutritional yeast or is there something else you recommend?

Ferdzy said...

Hi Chiara - good tasting yeast is just another name for nutritional yeast. I guess it's kind of old fashioned now but when I first encountered it in the 70s that's what it was usually called. Thanks for asking! And do let me know how these turn out for you. I'm pretty happy with the recipe but I still wonder if I could improve the texture a little.