Thursday, October 18, 2012

Lentil and Oatmeal Sausages

During the war - and for the nine subsequent years when rationing remained in effect - grocery shopping in the UK entailed waiting in long queues for limited supplies; the image above shows one week's ration for an adult (including four rashers of bacon and one egg; that black pile at lower left is the precious 2 oz. weekly allowance of tea). Even when eked out with all those potatoes and root vegetables from backyard gardens and allotments, this was not a lot of food, and the dearth of available meat meant that cooks found creative ways to stretch what they had a bit farther. One way to do this was to add fillers like oatmeal, flour, and (you guessed it) potatoes, while other dishes skipped the animal products entirely to produce more economical - and arguably healthier - alternatives like today's recipe.

Before I go on, I must admit that one of my favorite food-related things about being in England is the ready availability of proper vegan sausages. You can walk into any decent supermarket or health food store, and there they are: sometimes several different brands and varieties of traditional flavors like Glamorgan, Cumberland,'s like heaven! Back home in the colonies, there are companies that offer vegan analogues of Italian, kielbasa, and chorizo sausage, but that's not what a girl wants with her mushy peas and gravy, dammit. (Sorry, Field Roast; even the apple and sage ones don't begin to come close.) So it's become increasingly clear that if we want English-style sausages on this side of the pond, we have to bloody well make them ourselves. Unfortunately, all the go-to recipes seem to feature seitan (of which I'm not especially fond), and the project has largely fallen by the wayside.

That is it had, until my wartime MoFo theme brought this recipe to my attention. These babies are made entirely from whole foods, and without any mucking about with vital wheat gluten or tedious kneading and steaming. Best of all, they are absolutely brilliant: cheap, easy, nutritious, and delicious in just the right way! While they would be perfect with any of the traditional accompaniments, we enjoyed our inaugural batch with sautéed leeks and kale, Marmite roasted potatoes, Isa's Easy Breezy Cheezy Sauce from Appetite for Reduction, and the last of the Irish soda bread. Next time I'll probably go for mushy peas and a pile of mash amid a lake of mushroom gravy; who says austerity has to be...austere?

Lentil and Oatmeal Sausages
~ 1 tbsp. margarine
~ 1 small red onion, minced fine
~ 1 small parsnip, grated
~ 1 small apple, grated
~ 1/2 tsp. each: salt, sage, marjoram, thyme, parsley
~ 1/4 tsp. mace
~ A few grinds of black pepper
~ 1 tsp. vegetarian Worcestershire sauce
~ 1.5 cups cooked lentils
~ 1/2 cup rolled oats
~ 1/2 cup water or broth
~ 2-4 tbsp. flour or nutritional yeast (I used a 50/50 mix)

~ Preheat the oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit, and coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.
~ In a skillet, melt the margarine and saute the onions, grated parsnip, and apple over medium heat for about 5-7 minutes, until quite soft.
~ Add the seasonings, the lentils, and the oatmeal, and continue cooking about 10 minutes, adding water or broth as necessary to prevent sticking and create a smooth mixture.
~ Stir in the flour and/or nutritional yeast to form a stiff "dough,"combine thoroughly, and remove from heat until cool enough to handle.
~ Form the mixture into, well, sausages (I got an even dozen), and place on the prepared baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes, turning occasionally so they brown on all sides.
~ Serve with gravy, mashed potatoes, mushy peas, and/or whatever else you like to have with sausages.
~ (NB the original recipe gives the option of rolling the sausages in some toasted breadcrumbs before cooking; I didn't bother since I was going to bake them, and figured the crumbs might burn. That said, this might be nice if you're inclined to follow the prototype and fry the sausages in "a very little fat"; my only caveat would be to handle them with care, because they're a bit fragile. And please let me know how they turn out if you decide to try it!)


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  2. Thanks for the recipe! I'm not a fan of using vital wheat gluten in my homemade burgers and sausages either. I actually have made sausage breakfast patties out of basically oatmeal and spices! We formed your recipe into patties too because we wanted these on buns and just had hamburger buns. The versatility of making your own food!