There’s a chill in the air during my morning walks, which makes me think of the autumn comfort foods of my youth.
Although my dad was Hungarian, my Italian mom didn’t enjoy cooking Hungarian food. But growing up in Cleveland’s inner-city, I went to public school with a lot of kids who were Polish, Czech, Romanian, Hungarian, Russian, and German, so the flavor palate of these countries is part of my heritage. Although the cooks in most of the eastern European countries use a lot of meat, I’ve found ways to bring those same dishes to my table without violating my vegetarian principles.
So, let me introduce you to my Sweet and Sour Cabbage with Kielbasa. Although a version of this dish was in Fool a Carnivore, I’ve adapted and simplified the preparation using my Cuisinart Cook Central, so that I don’t have to use a skillet for the initial sautéing.
Although my old recipe also used Tofurky Kielbasa, those cool folks at Turtle Island Foods have changed it a bit, so now it tastes even better and more authentic to me than when I first started eating it decades ago. Each 3.5 ounce vegan Kielbasa sausage has 26 grams of protein, 12 grams of fat, and only 240 calories.
Its ingredients are pretty simple:
INGREDIENTS: Vital wheat gluten, organic tofu (water, organic soybeans, magnesium chloride, calcium chloride), water, expeller pressed non-GMO canola oil, onions, shoyu soy sauce (water, non-GMO soybeans, wheat, salt, culture), organic soy flour, granulated garlic, sea salt, garlic puree, spices, organic cane sugar, mustard seed. Contains: Wheat, soy
So, I wondered, what kind of nutritional difference is there between my vegan sausage and traditional Polish kielbasa?
First of all, it is hard to find traditional all-pork Kielbasa in the grocery stores, and even harder to find Kielbasa that isn’t junked up with other ingredients and additives.
Here’s what I found about Hillshire Farms Polska Kielbasa from the company’s website. First of all, it is made with pork, beef, and turkey – not just pork. But it also adds a lot of other junk – check it out!
DUE TO POTENTIAL PRODUCT REFORMULATIONS, THE MOST ACCURATE INFORMATION CAN BE FOUND ON THE PRODUCT PACKAGE
Made with Pork, Turkey and Beef
INGREDIENTS: Meat Ingredients (Pork, Beef), Water, Turkey, Corn Syrup, Contains 2% or Less Of: salt, NATURAL FLAVORS, Dextrose, isolated soy product, Isolated Soy Protein, sodium phosphate, Monosodium Glutamate, SODIUM ERYTHORBATE, Sodium Nitrite. Contains: Soy
But hey, you might think that it’s ok to ingest these extra harmful additives like Monosodium Glutamate and Sodium Nitrite because you’re probably getting a lot more protein per serving.
While each Hillshire Farms Kielbasa is 2 ounces, roughly half the size of the Tofurky sausages, eating two of them (4 ounces) would give you only 14 grams of protein, in contrast to the 26 grams of protein in the 3.5 ounces of Tofurky Kielbasa. In addition, you’ll be getting 32 grams of fat at a 360 calorie cost.
Do you really want to eat less protein, and ingest more fat and calories in the meat-based sausage?
I’ll choose my vegan Tofurky Kielbasa sausages any day of the week!
And to make my Sweet and Sour Cabbage with Kielbasa even more interesting, I made Rio Bertolini’s delicious Sweet Potato Pierogi.
If you are unfamiliar with Pierogi, you should get to know them. If you are already a fan of Ravioli, you’ll also like Pierogi. The difference is that while ravioli are simply boiled and then sauced, traditionally Pierogi are also sautéed in a little butter after being boiled and drained, and then I sauced mine with a simple sour cream dill sauce made with Imagine’s Organic Vegetarian No-Chicken Broth.
Although my two carnivore men-folk don’t usually enjoy eastern European dishes as much as I do, both of them raved about this dinner.
As the Tofurky Kielbasa package says, “Just Add Polka!”
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium red onion, chopped
- 1 medium red cabbage, cored, very thinly sliced, and finely chopped.
- 4-6 carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch matchsticks
- 1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled and grated
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar (Bragg’s Organic Apple Cider Vinegar is great!)
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- ⅓ cup white wine
- ¼ cup stock
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 4 Tofurky Kielbasa (14-ounce package), sliced on the diagonal into 1” chunks
- 2 14 oz. packages Rio Bertolini Pierogi, frozen
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (divided use)
- 2 cloves garlic, pressed
- 2 tablespoons unbleached white flour
- 1½ cups Imagine No-Chicken Broth, heated
- ⅓ cup organic sour cream
- 1 tablespoon dill
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Heat the oil in the Cuisinart Cook Central (or a large skillet) and sauté the onion for about 4–5 minutes. Add the red cabbage and carrots and cook for about 8 minutes. Add the grated apple, and stir in the vinegar to keep the apple from browning. Season with sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, and caraway seeds. (If you are using a skillet, transfer the contents of the skillet into your slow cooker now.)
- In a small bowl, whisk the cornstarch, wine, stock, and brown sugar. Season with a little more sea salt and pepper and pour it over the cabbage/carrot/apple mixture. Cover and cook on low for 4-5 hours or high for 2-3 hours.
- About 30 minutes before you're ready to eat, put a large pot of water on to boil for the pierogi and start making your sauce. Put your slow cooker on "warm", adjust your seasonings, and stir in your kielbasa chunks. (Remember, because they are vegan, they really don't need to "cook"!)
- Melt 2 tablespoons unsalted butter in a medium saucepan. Saute the garlic for a minute or two over low heat. Don't let it burn! Add the flour to make a roux, stirring with a whisk until the flour is a light golden yellow. This will just take a minute or so. Whisk in the broth and cook over low heat stirring frequently until the sauce is smooth, thickened, and creamy. Cover and let sit until your pierogi are ready. Normally, I wait to stir in the sour cream, dill, and adjust seasonings until right before I am ready to serve so that the sauce doesn't separate.
- When the water in your large pot is at a rolling boil, add a tablespoon or two of salt, and stir in your frozen pierogi. Cook for 5-7 minutes until the pierogi float to the top.
- Drain them gently into a colander (remember they are stuffed with a delicious sweet potato and ricotta mixture, so you don't want to "break" them!).
- Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter in a large skillet and get it fairly hot. Gently brown the pierogi on both sides and remove to individual serving dishes as they get done. You can finish your sauce now by adding the sour cream, dill, sea salt and pepper over low heat. Top the pierogi with your finished sour cream sauce, and serve with the Sweet and Sour Cabbage with Kielbasa.
- Adjust seasonings and serve with sweet potato pierogi.
All Rights Reserved