Thursday, 21 January 2016

Faux-sages: Chestnut, Quinoa & Black-Eyed Bean Sausages (GF, vegan)

A friend mentioned that she was happy to have something new to do with ready-packed chestnuts when she read my 'Chesto' recipe which, incidentally, was sent to her by email after she signed up via the little box on the right sidebar just over there ---> (spot that double self-promo?)
Well, one thing you'll soon learn about me is that I like any sort of binge.  I'll go crazy on one thing for a few weeks, usually until I'm fed up of it, but sometimes good things come along the way.
So the other afternoon, as thoughts of dinner crept into my mind, I decided to give chestnuts another new spin, spurred on by - of all things - The Big Small.  I asked him what he'd like for dinner and I wasn't surprised by his answer: "peasandpotatoes".  Apart from "meat", his answer is pretty much always "peasandpotatoes".  Now, what goes better with peas and potatoes than sausages, right?  But, for reasons that I won't go in to just now, I've been cutting down my red meat (beef, pork, lamb) intake over the last year or so and, by extension, that of my family.  I'm also trying to avoid processed meat completely, as it's the latest food to be considered a creation of Satan (for actual information and not just a bias-filled soundbite, take a look here).  So I decided to do something I've never done before.  Something that I've previously thought to be a sign of lunacy: make my own sausages.  With chestnuts.  And all sorts of other things in there.
I started off by looking at this recipe for gluten-free, vegan sausages over at One Green Planet.  Every other veggie sausage recipe I found involved copious amounts of leeks (no bad thing) and cheese (a bit of a bad thing).
My version of this recipe veers off quite severely, mainly due to my lack of pre-planning, but also because I actually found them too flavourful!    So instead of mushrooms, enter the trusty chestnuts.  And because I'm not veggie or vegan, I've substituted some other ingredients.  Use the original, use mine, use neither, please yourself.  And I'm not going to lie to you: these are a bit of a palaver (especially if you cook the beans and quinoa from dried) but they really are delicious and pack a good nutritional punch.  Just don't say anything about the photos - I was under pressure from The Smalls to get food on the table and had no time to, well, avoid them looking like turds!

Quinoa, Bean and Chestnut 'Faux-sages' (GF, vegan options)

makes about 12 sausage-shaped guys
What you'll need
Spice mix
  • 3 tsp crushed fennel seeds
  • 3 tsp powdered garlic (if you don't have any, just up the fresh garlic, below)
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tsp sweet paprika
  • 3 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • ¼ tsp ground allspice 
Sausage mix
  • 2 TBSP rapeseed oil
  • 200g cooked chestnuts (by chance, the typical size of a vacuum-packed bag)
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 stalk of celery, finely chopped
  • 2 cups (about 320g) cooked black-eyed beans (aka black-eyed peas)
  • about 120g cooked quinoa
  • 1 TBSP tomato puree
  • 3 or 4 large sundried tomatoes, finely chopped
  • about 50g parmesan, finely grated*
  • 1 egg, beaten*
  • 2 TBSP Worcestershire Sauce*
*For a vegan mix, replace the cheese with nutritional yeast, the egg with 2 tsp xanthan gum and the Sauce with a vegan version. 
A potato masher, cling film and a food steamer (I used a metal basket over my boiling potatoes).
What you'll do
  • Make the spice mix.
  • Fry the onion, garlic, celery and chestnuts in the oil gently until softened (about 15 minutes) and then leave to cool.
  • Meanwhile, mash the beans roughly in a large bowl.  I used a potato masher to keep a coarse texture.
  • Add all the other ingredients and the cooled chestnut mixture (if still a little warm, that's ok) and mix well.  The mixture should be moist and stick together easily.  If it's too dry, just add a little water.
  • Form into sausage shapes in the cling film.  After a couple of tries, it got pretty quick and easy to spoon the mixture onto the film, wrap it over, pinch the ends and push into the right shape.  Twist the ends closed to seal the mixture in.
  • Steam for about 15 minutes.** 
  • Reheat as you please (frying pan, grill, BBQ...)
  • Serve with peasandpotaoes!

** The original recipe said to cool and keep in the fridge for a few hours (or overnight) to firm up before reheating.  However, we ate ours straight away and they held together pretty well.  I fried some and left others steamed (see pic) and the fried ones held together much better.  We also had some the next day and I didn't see a lot of difference so I reckon you could skip the chilling step.
I hope you enjoy these bangers.  I gave myself two as a portion and ended up eating four!  Moreish, healthy, protein-rich and visually reminiscent of a meaty sausage.  And the gravy?  Instant!!


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