Vegetarian Sausage | Sweet potato, caramelised onion & sundried tomato sausages

Delicious vegetarian sausage:

sweet potato, caramelised onion & sundried tomato with a chilli kick!

As I recently embarked on a sausage-making spree, my vegetarian friends asked me if I’d make some vegetarian sausages for them.  I love cooking and I’m always up for a culinary challenge, so I came up with not one, but two vegetarian sausage recipes:

Sweet potato, caramelised onion & sundried tomato AND

3 bean, lentil & mushroom (recipe coming soon)

I’m actually delighted with the results – though a word of warning: the vegetarian / vegan sausage casings are ok and easy enough to use, but although they cooked fine under the grill, they exploded somewhat on the BBQ.  They’re quite delicate in the cooking process!

Note: These vegetarian sausages can also be made into vegetarian burgers / patties without the vegetarian sausage casings.  Simply shape into a burger / patty and fry with a little oil in a non-stick pan.

Vegetarian Sausage | Sweet potato caramelised onion sundried tomato with chilli

In their casings, ready to ‘cook’

Ingredients for 8 vegetarian sausages (makes approx. 8 sausages plus what’s invariably left in the sausage-filling funnel & mechanism)

  • 2 sweet potatoes – approx. 340680g , prepared as described below
  • 4 fresh red chilli peppers, de-seeded & finely chopped
  • 60g sundried tomatoes in oil, loosely drained, roughly chopped
  • 2 large onions, prepared as described below
  • 2tbsp olive oil
  • 4tsp light brown soft sugar
  • salt (to taste)
  • Vegetarian / Vegan Sausage casings (I found these online – available from various retailers)

Method

Prepare the sweet potato:

roast sweet potato

Sweet Potato cubes ready for roasting

  • Peel the sweet potatoes and chop them into squares (approx. 2cm squared)
  • Drizzle on a little olive oil and sprinkle on some fine/ground sea salt
  • Place onto a non-stick baking tray in a pre-heated fan-assisted oven at 200°C and cook for approx. 20 mins until soft and slightly caramelised but not too much – you want them sweet, not bitter (higher temp or cook for longer if your oven isn’t fan-assisted).  I use Pampered Chef’s Rectangular Stone to bake the sweet potatoes on and this requires minimal use of oil.  Depending on what you use, you may have to adjust your oil quantities to avoid sticking.

Prepare the onion:

  • Peel the onions and cut it in half, then finely slice
  • Place 2 tbsp of olive oil (or use some of the oil from the sun-dried tomatoes) in a non-stick pan, pre-heat, then add the onions
  • Cook on a high heat, stirring frequently to avoid burning, until the onions are soft and browned and have become quite sweet
  • Add 2tsp of light brown soft sugar, stir in and quickly remove from the heat before the sugar burns

Remove the sweet potato cubes from the oven once they’re ready and mash them with a fork or potato masher, adding some of the oil from the tomatoes

Mix in the caramelised onions and wait until the sweet potato mash and caramelised onion mixture has cooled down to ambient temperature

Mix in the finely chopped chilli peppers and roughly chopped sun-dried tomatoes

vegetarian sausage

Vegetarian Sausage mixture waiting to go into casings

Season to taste with a little fine sea salt

If the mixture is too dry, add a little oil from the sundried tomatoes

Push the mixture into the vegetarian sausage casings using a sausage-making machine/funnel (note that when you twist the ends, unlike with natural casings, they won’t remain properly twisted…leave enough room at the end to allow for a bit of expansion of the contents during cooking and prevent all the filling from escaping from the ends)

Grill or fry (careful if you BBQ – the vegetarian sausage casings have a tendency to tear open / explode on the high heat!) and serve with accompaniments of your choice

Vegetarian Sausage – Gloriously Simple, Gloriously Good!

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Turkey Meatballs in Tomato Sauce | Low-Cal Meatballs | Low-Fat Meatballs

Turkey meatballs in tomato sauce

A delicious low-fat / low-cal alternative to traditional meatballs in tomato sauce

Whilst I am a bit of a geek when it comes to preserving Italian traditional recipes and I have always considered meatballs in tomato sauce (as a sauce for pasta) to be a very American interpretation of Italian food, I do occasionally enjoy these little morsels (I just don’t pretend they’re Italian…a bit like when I eat pizza in the UK…but that’s for another blog post!).

Turkey is a fantastic ingredient when you want low-fat/low-cal alternatives to other meat in recipes.  It does require hefty seasoning as it’s not as strong-tasting as other meats, though, so do bear that in mind when you cook with turkey.

As I’m currently following the 5:2 Diet (2 non-consecutive very low-cal / “fasting” days per week and 5 ‘normal eating’ days per week), I’m always looking for different things to eat on the 2 low-cal days and these meatballs are a lovely dish to have.  For those in our house that aren’t on a diet, I serve them with pasta, while I just have them on their own with plenty of the tomato sauce, in a bowl.

Turkey Meatballs in Tomato Sauce | Spaghetti with Meatballs

Turkey Meatballs in Tomato Sauce, served with Spaghetti

Preparation Time: 20 mins
Cooking Time: 1 hr
Serves: 4
Approx. calories per serving: 320

Ingredients – for the tomato sauce

  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 stalks celery

    Turkey meatballs simmering in tomato sauce

    Turkey meatballs simmering in tomato sauce

  • 2 carrots
  • a few sprays of 1 Cal cooking spray oil (olive oil)
  • 2 cans/cartons of chopped tomatoes (ca. 400g each)
  • sea salt (to taste)
  • Optional: a few ground dried chilli flakes

Ingredients – for the meatballs

  • 500g minced turkey leg meat
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • sea salt (to taste)
  • Optional: a few ground dried chilli flakes

Method

Wash and trim the celery, scrape and trim the carrots, peel 1 onion and 2 cloves of garlic

Place celery, carrots and onion (chopped into chunks) and garlic into an electric chopper/blender or chop them very finely by hand

Spray a few sprays of the 1 Cal cooking oil spray into a non-stick sauté pan (it’s important to use a pan deep enough for the sauce but wide enough to accommodate the meatballs later), turn the heat on high and as soon as the pan is hot, add the chopped celery, carrots, onion and garlic

Dry-fry on a high heat for a few minutes, stirring regularly to avoid burning, then turn the heat down and simmer for approx. 5 mins

While this is happening, turn your attention to the meatballs: Peel the remaining onion and garlic cloves and chop very finely (ideally in a blender/electric chopper)

Place in a bowl and add the minced turkey leg meat (if you are mincing/grinding the meat yourself, grind the onion and garlic with it)

If you want to add some chilli flakes, add them at this stage

Add some salt, to taste

Turkey Meatballs in Tomato Sauce | Spaghetti with MeatballsMix (and squish!) well with your hands, ensuring all ingredients are amalgamated and the meat is almost like a paste.  I like to use vinyl gloves for this process so my hands don’t get caked in meat…it’s more hygienic, too!

Roll small individual meatballs (you should get approx. 36 meatballs) and keep them to one side

Pour the chopped tomatoes into the pan with the celery, carrots, onion and garlic (use a little bit of water to ‘wash out’ any tomato clinging to the sides of the carton/tin)

Season with salt (and if desired, chilli flakes) to taste

Turn up the heat, bring to the boil, then reduce back down to a simmer

Carefully place the meatballs on top of the simmering tomato sauce, leaving a small gap between each of them so they don’t stick to each other.  Do NOT stir at this point or they’ll fall apart!

Place a lid over the sauté pan and leave them.

After about 10 minutes, check on your meatballs, they should look cooked on the outside, having changed colour and retained their shape.  At this point, stir very, very gently and carefully, just enough to coax the meatballs further into the tomato sauce, place the lid back over the pan and leave.

You can repeat the very gentle stirring process 1-2 times during the rest of the cooking time, but don’t over-stir as the meatballs run the risk of falling apart otherwise.

Cook for about an hour on a low heat with the lid on, removing the lid for the last 5-10 minutes if you wish to thicken the sauce.

Serve with pasta, or crusty bread, or rice…or if, like me, you’re on a low-cal / low-fat day, eat on their own!

Deliciously simple, deliciously good, deliciously low-cal!

Pork Beef and Sage Burgers | Homemade Burgers

Burgers, proper home-made Burgers! Yum!

Today was an exciting day in our household, because this item arrived:

Pork Beef Sage Burgers | Home-made Burgers

Aside from the exciting baking possibilities that beckon, this heralds a new start in our kitchen…the start of mincing meat ourselves and making burgers and sausages! Yay! (I know, I’m a kitchen geek! lol)

So, I thought, what could we inaugurate our machine with?  Burgers, that’s what!

If you don’t have your own mincing machine, don’t worry, you can still make these burgers.  Just buy the meat ready minced (ground, for those in the USA) and make sure you chop the other ingredients REALLY finely and mix them in well.

IngredientsPork Beef Sage Burgers | Homemade BurgersPork Beef Sage Burgers | Home-made Burgers

250g beef sirloin

900g pork shoulder

12 large fresh sage leaves

1 large onion

3 garlic cloves

freshly ground black pepper, to taste

sea salt, to taste

Method

PPork Beef Sage Burgers | Homemade BurgersPork Beef Sage Burgers | Home-made Burgerseel the garlic, peel and cut the onion into large rough chunks, chop the pork and beef into rough chunks.

If you are using a meat grinder, put all the ingredients (except salt & pepper) through the grinder, mixing some of them up so they grind up together.  If you are using ready minced meat, chop all the other ingredients very finelly (ideally using a food processor or electric chopper) and mix them into the meat.

Add salt & pepper to taste.

Mix well by hand.

Shape into 8 burgers.

Grill the burgers until cooked throughout and serve with your favourite side dishes.  Tonight, we had our burgers with pan-fried courgettes and aubergines and potato wedges. Delicious!

Pork Beef Sage Burgers | Homemade BurgersPork Beef Sage Burgers | Home-made Burgers

Gloriously Simple, Gloriously Good!