I was inspired by this vintage Hungarian sausage commercial to put together a vegetarian sausage review. Please do enjoy…
Onwards to Sausagepalooza!
In my vegetarian sausage review, I chose two different brands both labeled as vegetarian “Italian Sausage” – Field Roast and Lightlife.
The packaging is different for each brand. Lightlife has all four sausages in a row (like traditional hot dog packaging) while Field Roast goes for an individual wrapping technique. I favor the individual wrapping if you tend to only heat up one sausage at a time. You just cut open the sausage and peel back the plastic. The Lightlife package was a little more difficult to open without slashing the actual sausage with the knife.
The Lightlife sausage is a bit more “slick” right out of the package. Field Roast sausages have a more chunky appearance and are a little more “juicy”. The Field Roast sausages were also a bit more fragile and could have the tendency to fall apart a little bit.
Lightlife sausages were easier to cut through, while the chunkiness of the Field Roast sausages caused more jagged edges.
Lightlife sausages rely on soy proteins, egg whites and dried vegetables. Field Roast sausages boast they are made of grains, vegetables and legumes. They are also vegan.
The Lightlife sausageswere 140 calories each while Field Roast packed a whopping 240 calories per link. Both brands come in pretty high on the sodium – 21% of daily intake for the Lightlife and 24% of recommended sodium intake for Field Roast. The Field Roast packs a whopping 50% of daily recommended intake for protein while the Lightlife comes in with only 24%. As a bonus, Field Roast also brings in some extra calcium, vitamin A and calcium. Meanwhile, Lightlife brings in only a little extra iron.
Because it is the dead of winter, I didn’t really feel like stepping outside to fire up the grill. Therefore, I followed the package instructions on preparation in a pan. The Light Life technique required a little oil in the pan, then heat the sausage on medium heat. Once pre-heated, cover the pan and cook for five minutes rotating the sausage every minute (or as needed) to ensure even browning. Uncover, turn heat to low and heat through an additional three minutes.
The package instructions for the Field Roast only asked to put the sausage in a lightly heated pan on medium heat. Nothing further. Although, it does warn not to overcook. So, I cooked it, rolled it around a bit for about five minutes in the pan.
I also cut up the sausages and pan fried them a bit as well.
Finally, I stuck both in the microwave for two minutes. (Only the Field Roast package gave microwave instructions. It said to cook each sausage for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. So, I stuck both sausages in at the same time.)
Field Roast sausage was spicy and complex in flavors. However, the Lightlife presented a smoother taste and held up a bit better in the various cooking techniques.
Microwave: The clear winner was Lightlife. Although, both were rather “uninteresting” in presentaiton. The Field Roast tended to be a bit chewy and became even more so as they cooled off a bit.
Pan fried whole: The Field Roast held up the best in this cooking technique. The spicy flavor was enhanced by the browning. Lightlife came in a close second as the browning made it taste so much better than the microwave version. The technique of covering the pan for a bit made it a little more juicy than the Field Roast. I may try that the next time when preparing the Field Roast sausage.
Cut into pieces and pan fried: Lightlife came out slightly ahead. The Field Roast once again came out a bit chewy, but the flavor and spiciness brought it back up into the running.
BONUS ROUND: CONDIMENTS
I prepared both a honey mustard bourbon sauce and a sweet and spicy ketchup (recipe will be posted soon). The Field Roast sausage matched perfectly with both sauces. The spicy boldness of the sausage was subdued by the condiments. It’s the perfect dipping combination. However, the condiments would work well with the Lightlife sausage if presented on a bun.
If you’re looking for a traditional Italian sausage that’s eaten in a bun with lots of condiments, head towards the Lightlife. I’d also reach for the Lightlife if looking for a quick snack as it has half the calories as the Field Roast. Looking for an addition to sauces or for use with dipping condiments, reach for the Field Roast. It packs a lot of protein in just one link. However, cook the Field Roast in a pan, rather than in a microwave as it tends to get a bit chewy otherwise.