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!

Fancy Pants Quinoa Polenta

Most days I don’t leave enough time to plan or cook dinner, so I do an awful lot of winging it. My well-stocked pantry saves my disorganized patootie on a regular basis. The truth is, however, that a well-stocked pantry can also help you find your way to a new and fabulous meal. Sometimes you wanna get a little fancy pants, and empty shelves make that sort of idea dissipate pretty quickly. A well stocked larder gives you lots of room to play, and if you have time, that’s a great deal of fun. I was desperate for something new, and so turned to a different cookbook friend to see if inspiration would strike. It did, and with a few minor adjustments (yeah, I’m still me) I served up an unusually elegant and tasty meal. Mr. Little Sis and I enjoyed it immensely; honestly, it felt a little like date food, and any dinner that seems like date food while you’re eating at your kitchen table with twin five year olds, deserves to be shared.

Quinoa Polenta with Tempeh Sausage and Mushrooms – adapted from Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s Millet Polenta and Tempeh Sausage recipes found in Vegan with a Vengeance : Over 150 Delicious, Cheap, Animal-Free Recipes That Rock

For the Polenta:

  • 1 c quinoa
  • 3 cups vegetable stock or water (I used 1 stock, 2 water)
  • 1 T olive oil plus more for pan
  • 2 c fresh shredded greens (I used chard from my garden)
  • 1 T fresh oregano (I grow it, but you could use 1/2 t dried)
  • 1/2 t salt
  • dash of black pepper

For the Tempeh Sausage:

  • 8 oz package tempeh
  • 1/2 T fennel seed (yes, you need this if you want it to taste like sausage)
  • 1 t dried basil
  • 1 t dried marjoram or oregano
  • 1/2 t red pepper flakes (opt – I left out for Ms. Picky Pants)
  • 1/2 t dried sage
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 T Bragg’s or soy sauce
  • 1 T olive oil
  • juice of 1/2 lemon

Sauteed Mushrooms:

  • mushrooms (I used about 1/2 lb)
  • olive oil for pan
  • dash salt

Procedure

Start with the polenta as it needs some time to “set.”  Because of this requirement, this is also a great dish to make ahead of time.  Make the polenta one evening after dinner, then simply prepare the tempeh and mushrooms when you’re ready to serve the meal – at least that’s what I’ll do next time. 😉  Let’s get started, shall we? Toast the quinoa in a dry skillet for about 5 minutes until it browns a bit and becomes aromatic.  Rinse several times in a sieve.  Bring water/broth, quinoa and olive oil to a boil in a pot.  Lower heat and simmer for about 20 minutes (check on this to be sure it doesn’t burn).  Mix in greens, spices and continue to simmer on LOW for a few more minutes until liquid is absorbed.  Scoop into an oiled dish – you can get fancy with this and make shapes, or you can do what I did and put it into a glass baking dish and it into shapes once firm.  Allow to cool on counter.  Once the polenta is firm and cut, you will be browning your polenta shapes in a frying pan.

Give the polenta at LEAST an hour to cool if you are using a flat container, if you want to get real fancy shmancy and make a roll of polenta in cans, you’ll need to let it cool for longer.  When it is cool, cut it into whatever shapes you prefer.  The rest of the elements of this dish will take about a half an hour.

Slice your mushrooms, warm olive oil in the pan, spread mushroom slices (or chunks if you prefer) in the pan.  Sprinkle with salt.  Leave them along until the mushrooms are wet on top and starting to curl under, then flip them.  While the mushrooms are sautéing, crumble the tempeh into a pan and add enough water to near cover it.  Simmer the tempeh over med-high until most water is absorbed or for about 12-15 minutes.  Assemble the herbs and seasoning for the sausage in a bowl.  Drain remaining water from tempeh, return tempeh and seasonings to pan until a little brown (about 10 minutes). Don’t forget about your mushrooms.  When they are browned to your liking, remove them from the pan and set aside.  Add a little olive oil, and put polenta into the frying pan.  Brown for a few minutes on each side.

Serve by placing polenta on plate, sprinkling sausage on top of it, decorating with sautéed mushrooms, and sprinkling with any leftover bits of greens that didn’t make it into the polenta.  Add some toasted nuts if you’re feeling a little EXTRA fancy.  Delish.