Hemp and Bean Sausage Patties (GF,V)

Let me just start by saying that in general, I am not a fan of meat substitutes. For the most part I like to create dishes that aren’t trying to emulate something else as I feel that it nearly always disappoints meat lovers and only occasionally really gets the vegetable crowd excited enough to bother. But there does seem to be a trojan horse for this particular problem. If you make something in the form of a patty, the adventurousness and acceptance both seem to increase – veggie burgers, falafel, or neatballs for sandwiches or pasta have all gained acceptance and, more often than not, enthusiasm over here. So when I saw a recipe for breakfast sausage made from beans, masa harina, and hemp, I was intrigued.

What is it that makes breakfast sausage worth emulating? This is a valid question, and an important one when deciding whether or not to bother. Breakfast sausage, for all their greasy yuck (in my non-that much grease loving opinion), have a combination of herbs and spices that really are tasty and it is my opinion that keeping that flavor profile solely for the breakfast table is nonsensical, but we’ll get to that. So, a less greasy plant strong version of that? Yeah, I’ll give that a go.

The result? Delicious, and as I suspected an excellent candidate for moving off the breakfast table into many other parts of the day. We’ve used our nausage patties as the centerpiece of a dinner that also included roasted plantains and sweet potatoes and fresh cut veggies. We had salsa, malt vinegar, and ketchup on the table to scratch any of the varied condiment itches I could imagine. The only thing I would do different the next time I make these babies, is that I would make at least a double batch and freeze the remainder so that they could be served with pancakes some morning. While not difficult to make, they were time consuming and so I would not want to execute these and pancakes at the same time (pre tea cooking must be strategically limited). If you have given up meat but miss breakfast sausage, these are a good fit. If you are trying to eat less meat and are more open to the whole patty concept, these are delicious and very flexible (in use, not in texture because that would be weird and gross).

A nice thing about this recipe, for me anyway, is that I had nearly everything I needed already in my pantry. Only one item was missing… the masa harina. Honestly I know my store carries it, but you know how I feel about dashing out for a single ingredient (and if you don’t know, let’s just say I suffer from a lack of self control at the store so limiting trips is best), especially when I don’t really know what that ingredient is. So I looked it up. Masa harina is a flour made from corn… so far so good. The corn is apparently dried, cooked in water with slaked lime, dried, and finely ground. The limewater imparts a distinctive flavor. And masa harina is more finely ground than corn meal. Okay, so I don’t have limewater and I’m not up to a chemistry experiment in addition to a recipe experiment. My solution? Grab that cornmeal and grind the crap out of it. I used my food processor, but would likely use my Vitamix next time. The only other problem with the recipe was that it requires that you refrigerate the sausage batter overnight… yeah, I may write a meal plan, but THAT level of planning is rare in this house. I added a little more ground corn meal instead to firm the batter up. I’ve also ditched the liquid smoke called for in the original recipe because I don’t regularly cook with it and there are some concerns with the safety of the product. The safety concern for liquid smoke is less, but still apparently present, in smoked paprika I am sad to discover. I actually have smoked paprika, and will use it here, but next time I may switch out the liquid smoke for scotch whiskey (boozy breakfast) and the paprika for a little extra pepper.

Hemp and Bean Nausage Patties (GF,V) – adapted from Spicy Hemp Breakfast Sausages in December 2014’s Vegetarian Times

Spice Liquid

  • 2 T maple syrup
  • 2 T dried parsley
  • 2 T dried rubbed sage (this is KEY, don’t skimp)
  • 2 t garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 t dried oregano
  • 2 t smoked paprika
  • 1 t black pepper
  • 1 1/2 t salt
  • 1 1/2 t dried thyme
  • 1/4 t red pepper flakes
  • 2 c boiling water

Nausage Mix

  • 3/4 c plus 2 T finely ground corn meal (use food processor or power blender)
  • 1 c hemp seeds
  • olive oil for cooking
  • 1 15 ounce can of soft beans (or 1 1/2 c well- cooked from dried; I used black beans here, probably anything well cooked other than chickpeas would work), drained and rinsed

First thing to do is to make the spice liquid – it’s basically like flavor tea. Combine all of the seasonings in a medium sized bowl. Add the boiling water and set aside for at least 5 minutes. While the flavor tea steeps, collect the other ingredients. Place corn meal in large bowl. Place beans in skillet or large sauce pan on stove, but don’t heat. Measure out hemp seeds. Drink some water.

Add 1 1/2 c flavor tea to the beans on the stove. Turn to medium heat to bring to a gentle boil and then simmer, stirring occasionally until liquid is largely evaporated, leaving a thick mixture that looks a bit like refried beans. While they are simmering…

Add 1 cup of the flavor tea to the corn meal and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Add hemp seeds. When beans are done, add to cornmeal mix and stir.

Heat olive oil in pan on medium. Add nausage batter in plops with a large spoon. Allow to cook for a minute or so and then flatten a little with a spatula. Cook about 5 minutes per side or until crispy. Drain on paper towels. Serve wherever you like. Delish!

Morning Veggies

I am frequently reminded (in documentaries about other places that my son loves) that much of the rest of the world actually eats a breakfast that looks a lot like the other meals of the day – some kind of grain and some veggies, maybe a little protein, maybe not. And yet these sweet loving taste buds lead so many of  us to constantly seek out a breakfast that does a great job in satisfying a sweet tooth, but doesn’t necessarily do much else.  Despite all my sugar busting, I confess that my own flavor preferences in the morning tend toward the sweet side of the spectrum.

While on the morning in question, I wasn’t necessarily interested in simply having leftovers for breakfast (although this is an entirely reasonable proposition), it occurred to me that I had no good reason for not including vegetables in my morning repast. Vegetables CAN be in a dish that’s not primarily savory. I took my lead from my sister (yet again 😉 ) and just turned up the volume.

The result? Very slightly sweet, super satisfying, nutritionally superb and a definite keeper.

Veggies ‘N’ Oats IMG_0330

  • bowl of oatmeal & leftover sweet potatoes (cooked to your preference; I like my oats decidedly underdone)
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped and cooked with the oats
  • handful of fresh spinach or other mild green, chopped
  • palmful of raisins
  • sprinkle of grated coconut
  • handful of walnuts
  • splash of coconut milk (or your preference)

I thought the celery and greens would interfere, but truth is they were absolutely delightful.  And I don’t care who you are, there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with sweet potatoes for breakfast.  Okay, so I haven’t shaken the sweet tooth just yet, but things are definitely looking up. Throw some greens in there – you just might be surprised. Delish!

Great Grains: Barley and Breakfast

In my post on Cauliflower Steaks, I alluded to making a side of barley to fill up any spaces that might be left by cauliflower steaks (there really weren’t any), and as a failsafe if the kids stonewalled and took the “required taste amount only” position on the main dish. So here I am, returning to the barley, to explain to you why it is ever so lovely to have a container of leftover barley in the fridge.

I am a firm believer in grain variety. It would be very easy for my husband to eat rice every night, and I could probably have quinoa every day without complaint; however, I think a little variety does a body, and a palate, good. One of my favorite grains is super hearty, and super versatile, barley. I bought pearl barley (more about the varieties of barley here, and am curious about other, less processed versions of the grain. Although pearl barley IS slightly processed, the polishing of the grain is reported to leave it largely nutritionally intact. Cooked pearl barley is larger than rice, and soft while not being mushy. It’s a great base for foods, traditionally used in soups, and would be great in a risotto (barsotto?).

I cooked my barley in water with a little salt in a 3 H2O to 1 barley ratio (I started with 2 c dry barley and we had PLENTY). Took about an hour, so it is not quick, but it doesn’t require any effort, so it’s a great candidate for a weekend cook to set up some grain dishes for the week. As an alternative, you could cook it in a slow cooker, which is what I think I’ll do next time.

Regardless of how you choose to cook your barley, be sure to make enough for leftovers, as barley for breakfast is a delight. It’s warm and hearty, filling and nutritious, and it is not gloppy. While I love oatmeal, there are those who’ve expressed to me that the questionable texture of oatmeal and porridge is distasteful – barley may just be answer to these hot breakfast lovers. Barley is not gloppy and is a perfect vehicle for many of the same kinds of additions that can make a steamy bowl of oatmeal so very delicious. I’ll demonstrate with three options I’ve enjoyed this week.

Barley Breakfast 1
 Tradition Takes Hold: My first barley breakfast was pretty traditional in porridge terms. I added some raisins, some cinnamon, some nuts, and a little shredded coconut (I am decadent, I know).  Someone who is accustomed to a sweet breakfast could add a splash of maple syrup, although I found that the raisins and cinnamon did a nice job of convincing my palate that we were in the sweet enough zone. I also added a splash of almond milk.  Warm, filling, energizing, comforting, and delicious.  Everything a great winter breakfast bowl should be.
Barley Breakfast 2

IMG_8681A Little Lemon Lift:  For my second barley breakfast, I remembered Bigg Sis’ superb soaked oats, which feature a heavy dose of lemon zest.  While I was skeptical about this move when she first described them, I was delighted to find that the zest convinced my senses that it was simply a bowl of grains I was eating, but there was some sort of pastry situation in front of me.  I’m still not sure how that works, but it still works, and so this breakfast included raisins, walnuts, lemon zest, and a splash of almond milk.  Fantastic, and a light refreshing feel that brought a little ray of sun into the winter kitchen.

Barley Breakfast 3

IMG_8693 Gettin’ a Little Exotic:  For my final barley experiment of the week, I turned to another container of leftovers in the fridge.  last night I roasted some sweet potatoes (1 inch cubes, 450 degrees, olive oil and a little salt for about 20 minutes) and then sprinkled them with lime juice and cilantro.  They were stunning, if I do say so myself.  Know what else?  They were a great addition to breakfast.  I used some barley and the potatoes, warmed them and then added raisins, some banana, walnuts, a splash of coconut milk and a squeeze of lime.  If it hadn’t been 12 degrees here at the time, I would have sworn I was somewhere slightly tropical.  Delish!

So there you have it. Three lovely bowls of barley for YOUR breakfast enjoyment. All low in refined sugar, all cheaper than boxed cereal, and all super yum. If you’re looking for a place to start YOUR path to healthier eating, may I suggest you start right at the beginning of your day. Check out our other breakfast options and pull up a chair!

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