Thursday 3 January 2019

Vegetarian Sausages

Vegetarian sausages made with chickpeasI've never been a fan of meat substitutes; not when I was a full-time vegetarian and not now. I know there are lots of people who eat them, some because they are vegan or vegetarian for ethical reasons, some who just like them. But I prefer to eat food which tastes of the things it is made from, and not food which is factory processed to taste like something else. Having said that though, sometimes I just fancy sausages, mash, peas and gravy.
This is my vegetarian sausage recipe - it's based on an easy falafel recipe and doesn't really taste like pork sausage at all. It should make about 12 sausages, enough for four people to have three each; if you don't use them all you can freeze the rest, but separate them with grease-proof paper before freezing or they'll stick together. My five year old daughter loves these, especially with gravy.


  • One good slice of bread, about an inch thick, more if the loaf is small
  • One small white onion, or half a large one
  • A tin of chick peas, drained and rinsed - shake them dry in a sieve
  • One egg
  • A small handful of fresh parsley - dried will do
  • A little ground cumin
  • Sea salt and ground white pepper to season
  • Sunflower oil for frying


You need to fry these in a non-stick frying pan. I've tried in a cast iron one and they stick. A pair of tongs is handy for turning the sausages too. The recipe calls for a food processor; I'm sure it's possible to do it without but if you're going to do much cooking I'd recommend you buy one. We have a cheap 'Cookworks' one from Argos and use it for all sorts of stuff - blending soup, making pastry, even making icing sugar. They're only about £25 - I'd love a proper Magimix but the cheapest one is £240 which puts it somewhat out of reach.

The bread is best if it's about a day old - not stale, but not so moist that it's difficult to work with. I use white bread, but I'm sure wholemeal or brown will work fine. What's important is that it's 'proper' bread, not sliced bread. Trying to make breadcrumbs out of sliced bread is impossible - it's mostly water.

If you use a big onion you can use the other half to make onion gravy. I expect it would be possible to leave the egg out to make the recipe vegan but I've never tried it. Perhaps a bit of plain flour might bind it together - I've used that method with other things.

These sausages are lovely with mash and gravy, but just as good with chips and work pretty well with fried onions and mustard in a hot-dog roll.


Cut the crusts off the slice of bread and discard. Cut the bread into cubes, put in the processor and process briefly until you have coarse breadcrumbs. You just want to do it until you can't see the cubes any more.

Peel the onion and cut into big chunks. Put it in the processor with the breadcrumbs. Add the chick peas, parsley (no need to chop), a pinch of sea salt, as much pepper as you like and a little cumin. You could add a little sage too if you like - I do sometimes. Crack the egg on top.

Process the mixture until it forms a dough, stopping occasionally to stir in the stuff which has got stuck up the sides. What you're looking for is for everything to be thoroughly mixed but still with identifiable chunks of onion and chickpea. It needs to stick together when squeezed, but not be too processed or it'll be sticky and impossible to work with.

Now it needs to be formed into sausage shapes. It's best done on a dry board with slightly damp hands. Don't be surprised if you have to stop and clean the board and wash your hands a couple of times. If the mixture is just too sticky to work with it can usually be rescued by adding a tablespoon or two of plain flour and mixing in.

Take a good dessert spoon full of mixture. Roll it lightly between your hands to form a ball. With one hand roll it backwards and forwards on the board, pressing just enough to form a sausage shape. Don't press too hard or it will fall apart. If it comes out too big or small you can add a bit or take a bit away and do it again. Put the sausage to one side and repeat. With practice they'll all come out the same.


If you're not in a rush the sausages are easier to handle if you leave them to dry for about half an hour before cooking. If you can't do this then it's OK - they're just a bit harder to pick up.

Put a decent amount of sunflower oil in a non-stick frying pan and bring up to temperature. Carefully add the sausages and cook at a medium heat, turning occasionally to ensure that they are cooked evenly. It will probably take about 15 -20 minutes - I turn the heat up a little for the last few minutes and turn them lots to make the outside nice and brown and crispy. Serve as soon as they're cooked, with chips or mash, peas and gravy.

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