So, this week, I’m going slightly off-prompt for Vegan Mofo but I have a purpose! I am recreating some non-vegan dishes that I have eaten in the past or admired in the present and wanted to make the food edible by my standards. Today’s dish is something that I watched someone order at a bar once. This particular night holds emotional significance for me and I kind of bonded with this girl who I was sitting next to. She ordered two dishes and then proceded to spoon one of them on top of the other shamelessly and enjoyed them so much that I couldn’t help but admire her creativity.
I, of course, find meat repulsive, but I liked the idea of the flavor combinations in the food that this girl had in front of her. She was eating smoked sausage over a plate of steaming hot french fries. This isn’t a farfetched combination. However, I don’t normally eat heavy foods like sausage so I don’t normally think to cook with them (I’m talking about the vegan ones, obvi). I have created my own “sausage” patties before out of tempeh and they were delicious, but they were simply because I wanted to recreate a meat-based dish that I liked during my childhood (sausage biscuits, btw).
I saw this girl’s concoction and immediately knew I wanted to put my own spin on it. What has resulted from my experiment is a base of oil-free roasted russet potato fries cut thickly next to what I’ve realized is my new favorite fall meal. I caramelized some red onion and fennel (without oil) in a pan with vegetable stock, tomato paste and a ton of herbs and garlic. I added a touch of soy sauce for a savory umami depth and the result was a delicious stewed sauce that I used to drown thickly sliced Tofurky kielbasa sausages. What a delicious creation. I can’t really take credit for it completely, but I’m gonna try to partially.
Here’s the recipe:
Fennel Sausage Fries
- 2 vegan sausages, sliced | I used Tofurky Kielbasa style (or use this for gluten-free tempeh sausage)
- 1 fennel bulb, cut into large dice (I saved some fronds for garnish)
- 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
- 1 teaspoon dried sage
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- black pepper, to taste
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce, optional
- splash of aquavit, optional (it’s one of my favorite liquors and goes well with the fennel)
- vegetable stock, for cooking (I use the aseptic boxes)
- 2 medium russet potatoes, washed and cut into strips/wedges
- Preheat the oven to 395 F.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment/foil and place the potatoes on the tray ensuring that they don’t touch each other.
- Bake the potatoes in the oven for about 35 minutes while you prepare the sausages. They should be golden and soft inside.
- In a large skillet (I used non-stick as I made this oil-free), heat some vegetable stock on medium heat.
- Add your onion slices and dried herbs/garlic to the skillet. Season with salt and pepper.
- Cook the onions for about 5 minutes or until translucent. Turn the heat down to low and cook the onions until they begin to turn golden. Add vegetable stock as needed, about 3 tablespoons at a time. It evaporates as it cooks fairly easily.
- Once the onions are beginning to caramelize, add the tomato paste into the middle of the skillet and stir to incorporate it into the dish. The texture will thicken.
- Add the aquavit (if using) and soy sauce to loosen the onions up and stir.
- Add the fennel and sausage to the skillet and continue to cook on low until all the vegetables are tender. Covering will help but is not necessary.
- Once the potatoes are cooked, remove them from the oven and serve alonside or underneath the sausage mixture. Garnish if desired and enjoy. Maybe show some friends and not tell them it’s a vegan dish. See what happens!