Sunday, March 28, 2010

Salsicca (vegetarian hot Italian sausage) - with okara!

Why, if I'm posting a sausage recipe, do I begin with this image of a potato gratin? Only because it's so much more lovely. This gratin rocked. It's the New potato gratin with tomatoes and olives from Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. The recipe is over here, so you too can enjoy this wonderful dish. It's got fried onions, it's got chopped olives, it's got tomatoes, and capers, and garlic, and that food of the gods, potatoes. But the lemon slices just make it. I've historically always been leery of gratins that don't involve a bechamel, but from this day forward I am casting aside that irrational and pointless prejudice.

So, okay, the sausage. This is the Salsiccia (vegetarian hot Italian sausage) from Bryanna Clark Grogan's Nonna's Italian Kitchen, with the important difference that instead of 1/4 pound tofu I used 6 oz okara (recipe follows below). Now, I've made the recipe before with the tofu so I was interested to note any differences. Why I was so pepped to try this is that, unlike my favorite chicken-style seitan, it only asks for 1/2 cup gluten flour to one batch of okara, as opposed to 3 1/2 cups gluten flour to one batch of okara for the seitan. I like gluten as much as the next person, and more than many, but sometimes enough is just enough, and this is a nice proportion of TVP/gluten flour/tofu (or okara). Here's the mix. No discernable difference here:

Form it into balls and place them in the steamer...they are a little more crumbly than usual:

The steamed balls. This is the whole recipe, containing an entire batch of okara. They look a little dry but actually they're not. You can see the okara fibres on the outsides of the balls. Will they disappear when the balls are browned?
You have to click past this beauty shot of the finished potato gratin to find out...

Yes! The balls are nicely brown, hold together well, and have great flavour. Served here with the gratin and Brussels sprouts with mustard butter (mustard and Earth Balance mixed, a little more of which was dribbled over the balls, not as delicious-looking as I hoped it would be, but even more tasty):

Salsicca (vegetarian hot Italian sausage)
from Nonna's Italian Kitchen
(recipe found uncredited here)

1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp vegetable broth, heated and still very warm
1/4 cup dry red wine
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 cup textured soy protein granules (TVP)
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1/4 lb medium firm tofu, mashed (or 6 oz okara, well squeezed in a twist of cloth)

Seasoning mixture
1 tbsp minced fresh garlic
1 1/2 tsp fennel seeds, crushed
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/2 cup pure gluten powder (vital wheat gluten)

Mix the broth with the wine, tomato paste and sesame oil in a small bowl.

Stir in the textured soy protein granules and allow to soak for about 5 minutes.

Add the tofu and seasonings.

The gluten powder should not be added until the mixture is cool (otherwise it creates "strings"). To speed this up, you can spread the mixture out on a plate to cool in the refrigerator. When the mixture is cool, add the gluten powder and mix well with your hands.

Press firmly into 10 thin patties or 14-20 firm links or balls.

Steam on a plate or steam basket (with little holes) over simmering water for 20 minutes.

These can now be browned right away or refrigerated/frozen for later.

To brown, use a non-stick skillet with a little olive oil or brush all the sides with a little olive oil and grill on both sides.


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  2. Those look great! Do you think you could use white beans instead of okara?

  3. Hi, Rose:

    Absolutely. The original recipe calls for tofu, but 4-6 oz well-mashed white beans (any beans, actually) would also be great.