One of the standard summertime meals that my mom would often make for us at least a few times every summer was her sausage and potato salad. I've mentioned before that I'm not a fan of gloopy potato salads that are coated in a thick mayonnaise-based dressing, and my mom's version was just the opposite - fresh and summery with green beans, diced potatoes and chopped sausages, tossed in a light mustard and vinegar dressing.
Since I became vegetarian, I've generally stayed away from "mock meat" products, including veggie dogs and veggie sausages. Recently, however, my older sister (also a vegetarian) has been raving about the Field Roast brand of veggie sausages that come in an apple-sage flavour, so I was curious to try them out.
I can't get this particular brand anywhere locally, but on a recent trip across the border I was able to stop in at Whole Foods and spotted the sausages. I was still a bit leery about buying them - not only were they a bit pricey, but I was also worried they would taste too much like meat and creep me out! In the end, my sister convinced me they would be worth it, so I went ahead and got a package.
Rather than eating them on a bun, she recommended cutting the sausages up and eating them with roasted potatoes and salad. That got me thinking back to my mom's sausage and potato salad, so I decided to make my own version!
For my potato salad, I steamed a few diced white potatoes, some green beans and mini mushrooms. Along with the sauteed veggie sausages, I also added some diced tomatoes and fresh basil, and while everything was still warm, I tossed it in a delicious dressing made with whole grain mustard, red wine vinegar, olive oil, garlic and shallots. Finally, I laid the salad on top of a bed of spinach that I lightly coated in the dressing.
This was definitely not a boring potato salad! I loved the combination of tender potatoes and veggies with the juicy tomatoes and crumbled sausages. The sausages had an appealing sweet-and-savory flavour and a texture that was more nutty than meaty, so I wasn't too creeped out by them!
The tangy dressing was probably my favourite part of the salad. I'm not usually a fan of dijon mustard, but I found the sharp flavour mellowed out when combined with the other ingredients, and I loved the whole grain texture. Even though the recipe makes a bit of extra dressing, I still ended up using the whole amount because I liked it so much, and it helps to add the spinach to the salad to soak up some of the extra dressing.
This was a great summer dish that I think would be welcome at a picnic or potluck. I would recommend serving it warm if possible, although I never actually tried it cold, so it might be just as good that way! It's also easily adaptable for any type of diet - you can use veggie sausages or meat sausages, although I think meat eaters would still like the Field Roast brand!
Warm Veggie Sausage & Potato Salad
Inspired by my mom's potato salad, as well as recipes found here and here
1.5 lbs white potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
white wine for cooking (optional)
6 oz green beans
6 oz mini bella mushrooms
1.5 cups diced tomatoes (including seeds)
2 veggie sausages (I like Field Roast smoked apple sage flavour - use 3 sausages for a heavier portion)
2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
4-5 cups spinach
1.5 tbsp red wine vinegar
1.5 tbsp whole grain Dijon mustard
3 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1 shallot, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
Bring about 1 inch of water to a boil in a large pot. Place the diced potatoes in a steamer basket, insert steamer in the pot and cover. Steam potatoes over the boiling water for 15-20 minutes, until potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork.
Meanwhile, prepare the dressing by whisking all ingredients together in a small bowl.
When potatoes are done, remove from heat and transfer to a large bowl. Toss with a bit of the dressing.
Heat a small skillet over medium heat and spray with cooking spray. Cook the veggie sausages according to package directions (mine took about 5 minutes, turning often, until browned on all sides). Remove from heat and cut into bite-sized pieces.
Meanwhile, add a bit more water and a splash of white wine (if desired) to the pot that was used to steam the potatoes and return to a boil. Place the beans and mushrooms in the steamer basket and steam, covered, for 4-5 minutes. Immediately plunge the beans and mushrooms into a bowl of cold ice water to stop them from cooking further. Drain and add to the bowl with the potatoes.
Add the tomatoes and diced sausages to the bowl. Pour most of the dressing over top, leaving a bit behind to toss with the spinach. Toss the salad to distribute the dressing. Stir in the chopped basil and season with additional salt and pepper to taste.
Serve as is, or to serve over top of spinach: Take however many servings you would like of chopped spinach and toss with the remaining dressing. Divide among plates and top each serving of spinach with a generous helping of the potato salad. Serve warm.
Makes 3-4 main servings.