Recipe: Game Day Lentil and Kale Sausages

It doesn’t look like a veggie dog, but who wants imitation meat anyways? This hearty gluten-free and vegan sausage delivers on flavor and texture, enough to make even the meat-eaters at your next tailgate want to taste.

To celebrate baseball’s Opening Day, my office was holding a potluck and the organizer was making hot dogs. Knowing I don’t eat meat, the organizer said I could use a separate cook top to make a vegan option. I wanted something that would read “tailgate” and might tempt a coworker or two to give it a try.

After looking through recipes online, I came across this one at Lentils.org. I liked it because it didn’t have too many ingredients and, besides fresh ginger, I had all of the ingredients in my refrigerator and pantry with a few of my own substitutions to put my own spin on it. The total 35 minutes prep and cook time also was appealing.

I decided to use my favorite truRoots sprouted lentil trio, try garbanzo flour in place of rice flour as I know it binds well, and swap out the red chili for smoked paprika. I also ended up using red kale, which along with the mixed lentil blend, gave it a darker appearance than the original recipe.

I knew I didn’t have a ton of time to make the sausages, so I tried to get a jumpstart on making them by prepping the lentils and veggies in advance of when I actually planned on making them.

The recipe called for a 1/2 cup finely chopped kale in a food processor. Now, I have never processed kale before, but after making the lentils, I figured that would be the most time-consuming step in the sausage-making process. Even with that belief, I didn’t realize HOW hard it was to process kale. From the time it took me to clean the red kale leaves until I had a 1/2 cup of chopped kale (four big leaves because of how it processes down), it took 30 minutes alone. Good thing I started early!

I ended up changing a few other things from the original recipe to make the sausages to save time, but it still took a good hour to make them and another 20 minutes to bake them. Overall, though, my on-the-fly changes pulled through and the sausages turned out great! The ginger was nice and subtle and flavor and they reminded me of falafel.

At the potluck, I even reached my goal of getting two of my coworkers to try them out and both thought they were very tasty. And since the Tigers’ game ended up being cancelled due to rain, at least we all got to enjoy our tailgate grub. I will make these again… but will know to leave lots of room for prep time.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup cooked lentils (I used black, green, red blend)

1 tablespoon water (reserve any remaining water from cooking your lentils)

1/4 cup garbanzo bean flour

½ cup red kale, finely chopped in food processor

¼ cup sweet yellow onion, finely chopped in food processor

1 small piece ginger (marble-sized), finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 teaspoons cumin

2 teaspoons smoked paprika

1/8 tablespoon baking soda

salt, to taste

Directions: 

This recipe is super easy once you have your lentils cooked (use directions on package) and vegetables chopped accordingly.

Begin by adding the lentils, water, garlic and ginger into a blender; an immersion blender works well. Blend until the mixture turns into a thick paste. Then use a spatula to transfer the lentil paste into a large bowl. Add all the other ingredients and mix together. You’ll know it’s mixed appropriately when it resembles a cookie dough-like consistency. Next, divide the sausage mixture into fourths and scoop out one portion. Roll into a ball, then elongate into a sausage shape. If they’re not perfect, it’s ok, they’ll still taste fine!

Place the sausage roll on a lined baking tray. Repeat the process with the remaining three portions. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Allow to cool before removing from the baking sheet so they don’t fall a part. For a tailgate, I refrigerated mine overnight and they held up great in transport to my office. Once I got there I heated them up on the grill and enjoyed the additional toasting.

Serve with mustard, hummus, or any of your other favorite sausage toppings.

Makes 4 hotdog bun-sized sausages.

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