Linda McCartney was a vegetarian pioneer — are her sausages any good?
Linda McCartney Foods' vegetarian products are now available in select SA supermarkets. We put their meat-free sausages to the taste test
I was surprised to stumble on a freezer full of Linda McCartney's vegetarian products - all fairly priced - at my local supermarket recently.
McCartney, the late first wife of musician Paul McCartney of Beatles fame, was an outspoken animal-rights activist and ardent advocate of vegetarianism at a time when plant-based diets weren't taken seriously.
I feel sure the success of her bestselling cookbook The Linda McCartney Home Cooking Vegetarian Cookbook, published in 1989, planted the seed for the establishment of the Linda McCartney Foods Company in 1991.
Almost three decades later, the company appears to be flourishing, even though it has changed hands over the years. It has grown and ventured into the export market. Yet their website has retained the bunny-hugging Linda McCartney/family business feel.
As vegetarianism sweeps the world, the variety of plant-based ingredients is constantly evolving and the demand for ready-made vegetarian options increases.
The proof of any food product lies in the eating and I put one of the recipes on the Linda McCartney Foods website to the test - vegetarian sausage cassoulet using their veggie chorizo sausages made with rehydrated textured soya protein, red pepper, tomato puree and smoked paprika.
The sausages look like a slimmer version of Middle Eastern koftas, and were just as flavourful.
Quick and easy to prepare, I'd happily make the dish again. And even the ardent meat-lover in the house gave the meal the thumbs up.
VEGETARIAN SAUSAGE CASSOULET
15ml (1 tbsp) olive oil
6 vegetarian sausages (I used Linda McCartney Foods vegetarian chorizo sausages)
2 large carrots, chopped
2 sticks of celery, chopped
1 large red onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
150ml red wine (or use extra stock)
2 x 400g cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 x 400g can chopped peeled tomatoes
300ml vegetable stock
15ml (1 tbsp) tomato paste
Sprigs of rosemary and thyme
1 bay leaf
5ml (1 tsp) smoked paprika
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Method: Preheat the oil in a large pan and fry the veggie sausages for a few minutes until browned, turning.
Set the sausages aside, then add the carrots, celery, onions and garlic to the pan and fry for 5 minutes until softened, stirring regularly.
Increase the heat, pour in the red wine and allow to bubble for a few minutes and reduce slightly.
Add the drained beans, tomatoes and juice, vegetable stock, tomato paste, herbs, bay leaf and smoked paprika, bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
Add the sausages and cook for a further 5 minutes. Season. • Linda McCartney products are available in Checkers stores.