Though it’s said to be the most important meal of the day, breakfast has always been the most difficult meal of the day for me. Most mornings, I’m just not hungry until close to lunch, and if I do eat something starchy or fruity early in the morning, it just sets me up to get hungry again before lunch. But I realize the importance of starting my day off with breakfast, so I’ve been working at making my breakfasts more protein-rich by basing them on beans: beans over grits, beans in smoothies, and now beans in “sausage.”
Since I gave up eating much processed soy, sausage substitutes are one of the foods I’ve missed the most. My favorite breakfast sandwich was Gimme Lean sausages on Ezekiel bread with Tofu-Cashew Mayo, dill pickles, and hot sauce. It probably sounds like something I craved during pregnancy, but it was delicious. I had a (non-pregnancy related) craving for it the other day, and decided to try making a bean version to satisfy it. And these beany babies did the trick!
Honestly, the texture isn’t at all like sausage–I would have had to add gluten to get them closer to that, and I was trying to make them safe for my gluten-free readers. They’re a little crunchy on the outside but moist on the inside, and the optional walnuts add some interesting texture. Plain they were rather…plain. But either made into my breakfast sandwich or served with grits and Mushroom Gravy, they were tasty and satisfying.
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 small onion, quartered
- 1 carrot, cut into large chunks
- 1/2 teaspoon fennel seed
- 1 15-ounce can pinto beans, cooked or canned (drained and rinsed well)
- 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts (optional)
- 1 tablespoon quinoa flour (or other flour)
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon thyme
- red pepper flakes to taste
- salt to taste
- Fit a food processor with a chopping blade and turn it on. Drop the garlic into the running blades to mince. Add the onion and carrot and pulse several times to chop fine. (Or mince all by hand.)
- Heat a small non-stick skillet and add the vegetables from the food processor along with the fennel seed. Cook until carrots soften, about 4 minutes, adding water by the tablespoon if needed to prevent sticking. Scrape into a medium-sized mixing bowl.
- Put the pinto beans into the food processor and pulse until they are mostly broken down, but not at paste. Add to the vegetables in the bowl. Add all remaining ingredients to the bowl and stir well. If the mixture seems too runny, add extra flour.
- Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with silicone mat or parchment paper.
- Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, add bean mixture and press it in until it’s not quite to the top of the cup. Invert it over the prepared baking sheet and tap lightly, if necessary, to get the mixture to come out. Repeat for remaining bean mixture. Flatten each sausage slightly with a fork or the back of the measuring cup.
- Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until crispy on the outside but moist inside. Allow to cool for a few minutes before removing from the baking sheet and serving.