I remember those late mornings at a random chain restaurant, dining on a breakfast plate full of eggs, toast, grits, and sausage – I always preferred sausage to bacon. Get outta here Bacon McGriddle! The sausage that reigns supreme in my eyes has always been maple sausage. It’s sweet like Autumn, smoky like a campfire, and salty like… well, sausage.
Being that I’m not one for dining on processed foods often, it’s been over a year since I’ve had even vegan sausage, as most of them are made from a mixture of seitan & texturized soy protein. I’m not necessarily proud about that as I do miss those chewy, salty, sausage sensations, so instead of attempting to invent a concoction identical to meat-based sausage, I’m deciding to use something that’s readily available, natural, and familiar in the plant-based world.
No doubt, tempeh is the top notch player for this role. And the best part is we don’t have to crumble it up, process it, mold it, dry it, leave it hanging at exactly 7 feet in the air at 60° F for 4 days, or anything crazy like that! In fact, because tempeh’s texture becomes tender after boiling, we add the liquid flavorings straight into its boiling bath; i.e. we don’t even have to marinade it.
The key to achieving sweet, maple flavor here isn’t actually maple syrup, which would boost the sugar content far above my liking before instilling it with strong, maple flavor. Rather, the key is maple flavoring, which can be used like vanilla extract, just with maple.
For one, maple flavoring has no sugar. Two, it’s potent stuff; a teaspoon goes a long way. Three, it’s made from relatively non-sketchy ingredients: glycerin, natural flavoring, and water.
Glycerin is made by placing oil – typically soy, coconut, or palm oil – through different measures of pressure, water, and temperature in order to forcefully separate the glycerin from the fatty acids in the oil. The final product is clear, odorless, and sweet tasting. Seeing that it’s used in maple flavoring, one can tell that it’s also a useful solvent – that is a carrier of flavors – similar to alcohol’s use in extracts. While the name is admittedly threatening, I don’t see any reason for it to give me the heebie jeebies.
Okay, I know what you’re thinking, “WHAT’S THAT RED STUFF HANGING OFF THE SIDE OF THOSE SLIDERS? It can’t be… it isn’t… they wouldn’t… is that ketchup?!”
Yeah, fine, it’s ketchup! What can I say, nothing compliments the sweet, childhood flavor of maple breakfast sausage quite like the tomato-y red stuff does. But look, let’s talk about this. This ketchup is simple, it’s homemade, and it’s sweetened only by the natural powers of tomato and a ‘lil dose of erythritol. Yes, tomatoes do contain lectins – the dreaded sugar-binding protein that this blog so dangerously avoids – but when the skin and seeds are removed from tomatoes, so are all of their lectins, and the flesh is the only part of the tomato that’s used in ketchup. Ever seen seeds or chunks of skin roaming around in a bottle of Heinz?
A can of tomato paste is no different because all that’s in there is the flesh of a tomato – no seeds or skin. So relax, and smother that slider in ketchup… or don’t, it’s only a condiment in the end anyways.
We hope that you don’t stop at these sliders, because the breakfast potential for this tempeh maple sausage is endless. All in all, this tempeh is: sweet, maple-y, savory, smoky, & meaty.
If you like what your taste buds are tellin’ ya, leave behind a nice rating, share your thoughts with us in the comments, or show us your creations by tagging @noeggsorham on Instagram.
Ryan & Kim
Maple Tempeh Sausage Sliders
A hipster cafe style brunch sandwich in your home. Sweet & smoky maple tempeh 'sausage' patties sit pretty atop buttery biscuits, with homemade ketchup, crisp arugula, and tender avocado.
Maple Tempeh Sausage
- 8 oz block of tempeh (I prefer Tofurkey)
- 2 c water
- 2 1/2 tbsp tamari
- 2 1/2 tbsp white distilled or rice vinegar
- 2 1/2 tsp maple flavoring
- 2 1/2 tsp liquid smoke
- 1/2 tsp liquid stevia extract
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 4 biscuits, cut in half
- 1 small avocado, thinly sliced
- Fresh Arugula
- Homemade ketchup (below)
- 6 oz can organic tomato puree
- 2/3 c water
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 1/2 tbsp erythritol or xylitol
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 3/4 tsp onion powder
- 3/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp ground allspice
- 1/16 tsp cayenne
- Ketchup: Thoroughly stir together all of the ingredients in a medium sized mixing bowl. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.
- Maple Tempeh Sausage: Cut tempeh into 4 square/rectangular pieces. Then, place those pieces on their side and cut them in half vertically, thus making each quarter half of the thickness it was before.
- To a 12 inch saute pan (nonstick preferred), add water, tamari, vinegar, maple flavor, liquid smoke, and stevia extract. Stir ’til combined. To that, add tempeh and place over high heat. Boil – flipping after 5 minutes – until all of the moisture has evaporated.
- While boiling, stir together garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, and salt in a small mixing bowl.
- Once the moisture has evaporated, reduce heat to medium and add olive oil. Toss tempeh around to coat in oil. Evenly sprinkle on half of the spice mixture, flip, then coat with remaining half.
- Cook on each side until brown; about 3 minutes each. Enjoy immediately or transfer to a plate until ready to assemble sliders.
- To assemble, place one half of a biscuit down, followed by a small handful of arugula, then two pieces of tempeh – one atop another – fresh avocado, as much ketchup as you please, and the remaining biscuit.
- Enjoy sliders while fresh! Although, tempeh will keep up for up to 3 days in the fridge in an airtight container.
*Ketchup recipe adapted from wholenewmom.com; thanks for the super simple goodness, Adrienne!
*If you don’t have erythritol or xylitol, try using 1/8 liquid stevia extract in its place. Add more from there if you’d like it to be sweeter.