Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Harry's Ultimate Vegetarian Sausage Rolls - Nut Free, Gluten Free and Wheat Free (includes Thermomix method)

Delicious, tasty, meat-free sausage rolls - with all the flavourings of traditional English sausages (with options for regional variations!) and none of the pork - which have even fooled some meat eaters!

Named after my son, as I made them for his birthday! From 55 calories per party-size roll. If you or your children (or fellow grown-ups!) love sausage rolls and you want to make them meat-free without doing the usual claggy cheese and onion filling (that becomes rather rubbery and unpleasant once cool); or you haven't been able to eat sausage rolls for years, because you can't eat wheat, or gluten; or you haven't found a decent vegetarian filling you can make, because you're allergic to nuts and other options have seemed bland or mushy...

...or even if you're none of those things, but fancy making some lovely, healthier, home-made sausage rolls without any of the additives or chemicals in bought ones and you prefer to know exactly what you're eating - then these are for you and yours!!

You might, just *might* even find that you prefer these to regular sausage rolls (well, you certainly won't be chewing on any suspect gristly bits, which my son hates)!

I was initially inspired to have a play with textures and flavours for a vegetarian filling by Cyndi O' Meara's vegetarian sausage rolls recipe (which I confess I haven't ever made) but I liked her idea of using oats as a base, with feta cheese as one of the protein and flavour elements. After that, I wanted to make it nut free, and wheat free, and use traditional English pork sausage flavourings in a mixture which I was able wrap in pastry, so it was all experimentation from thereon in, with seeds and spices and herbs and other aromatics and family members being given suspicious blobs of cooked mixture every now and then until the flavour and texture was right!

This quantity makes around 24 sausage rolls (about 4cm long each before cooking, if you're measuring!) with a generous ratio of filling to pastry compared with shop bought - if you use a 500g pack of bought pastry (or double my easy puff pastry recipe) you could easily stretch this to 36 plus rolls (double these quantities if you're cutting them like the mini sausage rolls you get at parties - I like to make mine more generously!).

Calorie wise, if you're counting (now come one, who eats sausage rolls on a day they're counting calories - but it's good to have an idea if you can't resist sneaking one and just need to know!) - they're 55 calories each for half-size mini party rolls, or 110 calories per my larger 4cm rolls, as in the photographs (if you make with my pastry, adjust calories accordingly if buying the pastry - my calories are split down per ingredient, so it should be pretty easy to add it all up, then divide by the number of sausage rolls you make. With this recipe, it's 2,641 for the total quantity of filling, pastry and egg wash - just divide it by how many rolls you make). [Calories in square brackets]

Now, you don't have to make your own pastry, if the thought of that fills you with horror - you could just use a pack of pre-bought, ready-made, pastry-of-your-choice from the shops, either 320g for a thinner pastry layer and more filling, or 500g if you want less filling (there’s a generous amount of filling here!). However, I hate making pastry too. That whole keeping it cold thing, it's flummoxed me for years - and I hate over-fussy methods and techniques which are involved in making something which ends up as a big fat fail - it's got to work, if I'm going to do it, and I'm not rolling it out 57 times with a pat of butter squished between the layers unless it's for a *really* special occasion which is just about puff pastry!

So... with that in mind, I'm really encouraging (bullying?) you to have a go at making my really easy, quick, GF rough puff pastry. Honestly, there's literally just minutes of active 'doing' to make it, and half an hour resting time. No hard work, and 27 layers of light, flaky, delicious pastry that you'd never know was gluten free. And people will be amazed when you tell them you made it yourself! Well, with the help of a food processor... (And it rises even more when it's not wrapped round things, so perfect for pies, tarts, and anything else you usually make with puff pastry - see here for the recipe if you want a quick peek at the easy technique!).

There are a few photos here, in the method, because I personally find photos really helpful in recipes (so I hope you do too!), especially as I want to know that what I’m doing is along the right lines. Also, at times, my methods may be a little cavalier, because I'm cooking for my family and friends, just like you are - and sometimes it's easier to illustrate them, than to describe each manoeuvre in minute detail (for both of us, trust me!).

In terms of the method for the filling, I have a horribly sneaking suspicion that you may well get a not-dissimilar effect from simply throwing all of the ingredients in, then blitzing - I was trying to save the ingredients that I didn't want completely pulverised until last, but I'll do that another time, and update accordingly! If you're in a rush and you do this too, I don't blame you at all! The flavours are all in there and it will still taste great ;)


Ingredients for filling
  • 30g day old gluten free bread, or normal if not cooking GF (e.g. white or brown, soft or take the crust off, if crusty: around one small slice) [86 calories]
  • 1 garlic clove [6]
  • 1/2 an onion (50g) [21]
  • 15g fresh sage leaves*, if you can get hold of them (if you can't get sage, use a mixture of herbs such as a couple of sprigs of rosemary leaves and a handful of parsley. I don't recommend dried sage or rosemary, unless you're fond of sawdust) [12]
  • 1-2 sprigs fresh thyme*, leaves only, or 1/4 tsp dried thyme (a sprig as in one stalk, about 3-4 inches long, not a bunch of stalks) [1]
  • 25g raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas) [156]
  • 55g raw pinenuts (or you could use sunflower seeds, if preferred) [381]
  • 80g rolled oats (or you could use quinoa flakes if preferred - someone trialing this recipe tried it with quinoa flakes and enjoyed it, although I haven't tried this - ensure specifically gluten free oats if cooking GF) [312]
  • 1/2 level teaspoon celery salt
  • Grating of fresh nutmeg (you can add a pinch of ground mace too, if you have it, but don't worry if not)
  • Plenty of freshly ground pepper, to taste (see below, I used at least 1/2 tsp – TM tip – grind up your peppercorns and set aside before starting!) [2]
  • Optional pinch of cayenne pepper [1]
  • 2 medium eggs (c58g each, approx100g total, once shelled) [176]
  • 100g Greek feta cheese (check made using vegetarian rennet, or use a vegetarian alternative) [280]
  • 1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil [22]

Rough puff pastry – N.B. Or use a 320g pack of ready-made puff pastry if you prefer, or 500g for more rolls.
  • 50g ice cubes
  • 100g frozen butter, cut into chunks (salted, or add extra salt to recipe – use a hot knife dipped in hot water each time to cut the butter up) [737]
  • 100g gluten free plain flour (e.g. Doves Farm) [350]
  • 1 level tsp xantham gum [10]
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 x 15ml tbsp cold water

Other ingredients
  • One beaten egg, to brush rolls with before baking (or you could use milk or cream if you prefer) [88]

Optional variations
For a tangier filling with a taste of the Mediterranean, instead of using sage, use a couple of handfuls of fresh basil, plus 3 sundried tomatoes and a tbsp of double concentrate tomato puree, for a sundried tomato and basil flavoured filling. Add the sundried tomatoes with the onions and garlic, and add the tomato puree and fresh basil leaves along with the eggs and feta cheese.

*For the 'sausage enthusiasts'! The herbs and spices above are from the flavour profile of the 'Cambridge sausage', which is essentially the standard British sausage. If you want to have a play around with recreating the flavours of other English variations, you can do things like.... 'Lincolnshire' - cut all herbs and spices bar salt and pepper, and add extra sage; 'Cumberland' - reduce the sage to 10g, and add the leaves from a couple of 6 inch sprigs of rosemary, use white pepper instead of black and don't be mean with the cayenne; also, don't be afraid to use some different ingredients to replicate other varieties of flavoured sausages - like sweating a diced leek and stirring into the mixture, for a 'Yorkshire leek sausage'; or substituting 40g feta for some blue cheese and adding a couple of tbsp of brown mustard seeds for a 'Rutland' sausage... just keep the base ingredients to similar quantities and you can make them as you want!

Equipment required
Food processor,  greaseproof baking paper,  rolling pin, metal baking tray

Makes around 24 rolls around 4cm long – probably more if you use a 320g pack of pastry (35cm x 22.5cm if ready rolled, and roll it out a little thinner than it comes) as there is plenty of filling – hence you could easily stretch it to fill a 500g quantity of pastry and probably make 30 to 35 rolls 4cm long. If you want the rolls more pastry-based, like those you buy for parties, you may want to double up the pastry recipe (easy, no real change to the method), and distribute it less generously. As mentioned, if you cut the rolls shorter, like the little party rolls you get, you'll end up with a double quantity - just remember to cook them for less time!


For the filling
Tear up the bread into pieces, then blitz into breadcrumbs in a food processor (TM Speed 8 / 5-7 seconds), then empty and set aside.
Peel the onion and garlic, and roughly chop the onion and sage leaves. Add the onion, garlic, sage and pumpkin seeds to your food processor and blitz until finely chopped (you may need to scrape down once or twice – TM Speed 7 / 10 seconds, scrape down then Speed 7 / 2 seconds).
Add the pine nuts, oats, celery salt, a good grating of nutmeg, plenty of freshly ground black pepper to taste (on my first attempt, I ended up adding two lots more pepper after tasting, so don’t worry, there will be an opportunity to taste and adjust the seasoning before you make the filling into sausage rolls) and blitz again, but only for a few seconds – if it starts to seize up, stop (TM Speed 6 / 5 seconds).
Add the eggs, feta cheese broken into chunks, breadcrumbs and toasted sesame oil and mix for around 10 seconds depending on your food processor (TM Speed 5 / 10 seconds), then scrape down the sides and under the blades with a flexible silicone spatula or similar, give it a bit of a stir if you can and blitz again for another 5 seconds (TM Speed 5 / 5 seconds) to ensure it is evenly mixed.

Take half a rounded teaspoon or so of the mixture, and put in a small microwave-safe dish (e.g. a ramekin) and cook for about 20 seconds. Leave to rest for 10 seconds or so, and check it’s firm and cooked through, then when it is cool enough, taste for seasoning. Don’t worry that the texture is a little rubbery from cooking in the microwave, it won’t be like this when you cook it in the oven – this is purely to get the salt and pepper right! If you cooked it in a pan in oil, you’d get more flavour from it caramelising, so it’s better to taste it this way if possible. If you feel you need to add more pepper etc., then do so and mix in and cook a little and taste again.

Now put into a bowl, cover, and refrigerate for half an hour or more to firm up and either make your pastry, (see below) or take it out of the fridge as per instructions on the pack. The filling will something look like this, and have the texture of thick oatmeal.

For the home-made, gluten free, easy puff pastry
See here for the method to make the pastry - I've posted the method (with ingredients as well) separately as there are a lot of photos which take up a fair amount of room! It should open in a separate window.

To make the sausage rolls
Preheat the oven to gas mark 7 / 220C / 200C fan oven, then lay out a large piece of greaseproof baking paper and dust with flour (gluten free if appropriate) to roll your pastry out on (even if it’s pre-rolled bought pastry – which you might need to roll out just a little more to be the right thickness). The greaseproof paper is really important to help with rolling the pastry and shaping the rolls.

Place your pastry on the floured paper, dust the top with flour and roll out to a long rectangle which is about 2.5-3mm thick – it’s OK if it’s a bit thicker than this, but it needs to be at least 22cm wide, and 36cm long AFTER you’ve trimmed the edges straight, and any extra is a bonus, as there is a generous amount of filling! (I rolled mine out to 24 x 38cm in the first instance, before straightening up the sides). As you can see, I ended up doing a little patching up on the bottom right hand side with a strip from the bottom left, to straighten it up - it didn't make any noticeable different when cooked!

Cut into two long pieces through the middle, and put half the stuffing in a line just off centre, and nearer the outside of the pastry. It’s easiest to use a blunt butter knife or spatula, to scoop up sausage like ‘lengths’ of the mixture and tip them onto the pastry. If it’s very uneven, use wet fingers / hands to shape it, although it doesn’t need to be perfect – I put mine on as you can see in the photo – not overly tidy, but relatively even.

Once you’ve put half of the mixture onto one piece of the pastry, lightly paint the side of the pastry nearest the middle with some eggwash (beaten egg, to make it stick), then take the edge of the paper, and use it to help you roll the pastry over the top of the filling, and to make sure the filling is rolled tightly by squeezing it together with your fingers, once its ¾ rolled.

(Making sure the roll is tight).

Peel back the paper a little, and finish rolling it all the way over – you may need to use your fingers to make sure the pastry goes around properly with the filling. The great news is if you’ve made my pastry, it doesn’t go insane when you cook it, and come away from the filling, so if it’s only just overlapping underneath that’s absolutely fine. Make sure there is some flour left on the paper behind the roll, and gently move it a couple of inches away from the other piece of pastry, then turn the paper around so that the other piece of pastry is in front of you, and then repeat the process.

You can choose now whether you eggwash the pastry before you cut it into rolls, or afterwards. Before is quicker, but stickier, after will give you a glaze which goes between the cuts too and glazes the filling. I did it before, but it really doesn’t matter.

Now you need a sharp knife, and a means of cleaning it between cutting each roll. I take a couple of pieces of kitchen towel, fold them up into squares then soak them and put them next to where I’m working, so I can just quickly wipe the knife on it on both sides, without having to put it down, or pick anything up. You could use a wet folded clean piece of muslin cloth or similar if you prefer not to use kitchen towel.

My rolls are about 4cm long, and I put two shallow cuts / scores (optional they just look pretty) on each roll as I go; so if you start from one end it’s score, score, then gently cut/saw through to cut the roll off and use the knife to slide it away and put on a baking sheet lined with greaseproof baking paper, then wipe off any mixture and repeat until they’re all done. You can make them as long or short as you like, and you don’t have to put any cuts on the top, just cut them to suit you, and keep an eye on the cooking time. If you’re really particular about presentation, use a wet finger to smooth the filling on the sides of the rolls… as you can see, I didn’t ;)

Once they’re all on the tray, put into the middle of the pre-heated oven, and cook for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden and cooked through with crisp bottoms!

Depending on your oven and the thickness of your baking tray, you may find there are 3 or four in the middle of the tray which might need an extra 5 minutes to avoid the dread soggy bottom! Luckily, as you can see, they don’t tend to suffer from soggy bottoms overall)!

Enjoy hot or at room temperature (if you store them in the fridge, best taken out half an hour before eating to take the chill off). I’ve no doubt you can successfully freeze them either before or after cooking, but frankly they don't last long enough around here to find out! For some strange reason, I like them out of the tub the next day (we actually didn't refrigerate them and they kept quite happily for a couple of days - obviously I'd advise refrigerating them, but if you do, make sure you bring them up to room temperature, or warm them through slightly before eating, otherwise the flavour will be deadened by the chill - trust me on this one!)


  1. toasted sesame oil... I couldn't find any in the shop. would the flavour be too different if I used normal stuff?

    1. Hi, if you haven't got the toasted stuff, then I'd just leave it out - plain sesame oil doesn't taste of much. You could always add a few toasted sesame seeds instead if you have any (just toast in a dry pan until golden), or a pinch of smoked paprika if you like :)

  2. Hi, I just wanted to say thankyou for sharing this fabulous easy GF puff pastry recipe. After purchasing two different GF Puff Pastry brands (at close to $10 each), that were horrible, I made it my mission to find a GF Puff Pastry recipe, and I came across yours which was so easy, economical and utilised minimal ingredients. I used it tonight to make a Chicken and Leek pie and it turned out fab.
    Jo, Melbourne.

    1. Hi Jo, thanks for leaving a comment - I'm so glad you enjoyed it, I find pre-made GF products can often be quite disappointing too! :)


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