Homemade vegetarian and vegan breakfast sausage links, which are soy-free, bean-free and oil-free.
If you’re vegetarian, vegan or veg-curious, then chances are that you’re familiar with veggie ‘meats’ – foods that mimic the look, taste and/or function of meat. You’re probably also familiar with the sideward glances and snide remarks that come with being the one person munching on a veggie hot dog while everyone else is eating the ‘real’ thing.
When it comes to store-bought veggie alternatives, my experience has been this: some are passable, some are awful, many give me stomach aches, and all are overloaded with salt.
So, most of the time during my eight-or-so years of vegetarianism, I’ve avoided the meat-substitutes and stuck to things like homemade chickpea patties and mushroom burgers. But sometimes all I want is something with the smoky flavor and hearty texture of bacon or breakfast sausages. Nothing else will do.
So, when those cravings strike, I make these sausages.
These are the kind of smoky-sweet sausages that partner well with pancakes, or add some extra pizzazz to your breakfast sandwich.
When I saw this recipe for vegan sausages on the Post Punk Kitchen a few years ago, I knew I had to recreate it. But, being me, I simply had to make a bunch of changes.
After much experimentation, I finally made some breakfast-worthy sausages. (And many breakfast-for-dinners followed).
Just like original recipe, this one relies on vital wheat gluten for texture. What on earth is ‘vital wheat gluten’? It’s literally gluten. It looks like flour, but has fewer carbohydrates and is 75 – 80% protein. Sometimes it’s called ‘gluten flour’, but be careful that you don’t confuse it with ‘high gluten flour’, which is regular flour with a higher gluten content.
(By the way, The Kitchn have a post about vital wheat gluten, if you’re interested to know more about it. Bob’s Red Mill also provide the nutritional information for vital wheat gluten on their website).
My version of these breakfast sausages uses sweet potato puree (instead of mashed beans in the original recipe). For best results, roast plenty of sweet potato, let it cool, and then blend/puree it. Roasting the potato brings out the vegetable’s natural sweetness and adds extra flavor.
Speaking of flavor, we’re also going to need a roasted shallot for these sausages. To roast a shallot, wrap a large one in aluminium foil and bake for 40 – 50 minutes at 375°F (190°C). Then let it cool and remove the brown skin.
Yes, all this roasting of vegetables takes up more time and energy, but it’s 100% worth it for that added flavor.
When it comes to cooking the sausages themselves, the links are actually steamed! But to add a little color and some charred flavor, I like to lightly pan-fry them before serving/eating.
Even though it does take some effort to make these veggie sausages, you end up with eight links and you know exactly what’s in them. Plus, they can be frozen – they last for a couple of months in the freezer.
Then the links can be defrosted and pan-fried whenever you get a craving for some smoky-sweet breakfast sausages.
- 1 large roasted shallot
- ½ cup (120g) sweet potato puree
- 2 tablespoons (30mL) maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- ½ teaspoon fennel seeds
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
- Salt and pepper
- ¾ cup (180mL) cold vegetable broth
- 1 ½ teaspoons liquid smoke
- ¼ cup (25g) oat flour
- 1 cup (135g) vital wheat gluten
- Prepare your steaming equipment, such as a saucepan with a steamer insert and lid.
- In a blender (or food processor), combine the roasted shallot, sweet potato puree, maple syrup, thyme leaves, fennel seeds, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Process until very well combined, scraping down the sides of the blender (or processor) as needed.
- Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Pour in the vegetable broth and liquid smoke, and mix until completely combined.
- Add the oat flour and vital wheat gluten. Mix until fully incorporated, using your hands if necessary, until the mixture forms a thick, moist dough.
- Knead the dough for about 1 – 2 minutes to develop the gluten, which creates a chewier sausage. Omit this step if a softer sausage is desired.
- Divide the dough into eight equal pieces. Roll the first piece of dough into the shape of a sausage link, and place on a sheet of aluminium foil. Roll the dough up in the foil and twist the ends. Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough.
- Steam the sausages for 30 – 35 minutes, or until they feel relatively firm to touch. Cool for 5 minutes before removing the foil.
- Preheat a skillet of medium heat. Spray with cooking oil, or add some olive oil. Cook the sausages in the skillet for approximately 2 – 5 minutes, turning occasionally, to brown the outsides. Alternatively, slice the sausages first, and cook the slices for 1 – 2 minutes on each side.
- Serve warm. Leftover sausages can be stored in the fridge or frozen.
I used a large saucepan with a steamer insert and a lid. For this kind of steamer, fill the saucepan about three-quarters full with water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to a low boil just before placing the sausages in the steamer insert.
Keep an eye on the saucepan and ensure it does not run out of water while steaming the sausages.
Sweet potato puree
Making your own sweet potato puree from roasted sweet potatoes is ideal, as the puree will be sweeter and more flavorsome.
I roasted two small sweet potatoes at 375°F (190°C) for about an hour, removed the skins, and then blended them.
Wrap the shallot in foil and bake at 375°F (190°C) for about 40 – 50 minutes, or until tender.
You can make your own oat flour by grinding some rolled or quick-cooking oats in a coffee grinder (or a food processor or blender). You'll need just under ¼ cup of oats to yield ¼ cup of oat flour. Grind the oats first, and then measure the flour.
Recipe inspired and adapted from the Post Punk Kitchen