Saturday, June 5, 2010

Sausage and Mushroom Pizza + New Blog Feature!

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VB's birthday week continues with pizza, his all-time favorite. Pizza is pretty much the only food that keeps him from giving up dairy, because, let's face it, soy cheese tastes pretty gross. I have yet to taste a soy cheese that's a good enough substitute for dairy cheese.

While we're on the subject of soy products, over the last couple of years, I have sampled various 'meatless' meat replacement products like veggie sausages, soy hot dogs, chicken-less chicken strips, tofurkey and the like. I don't like them for two reasons. First, I'm generally averse to frozen or processed composite food (meatless or otherwise) -- if at all possible, I like to cook my food from fresh ingredients so I know exactly what's on my plate. Second, these imitation meat products generally taste artificial, bland, mushy, or chewy. The vast majority of the products out there do not remotely taste like meat, or worst yet, taste like anything from nature.

Even though I don't like them, I have (begrudgingly) come to accept that they are important to a vegetarian diet and good for days when we're hungry and short on time.

So from now on, I will occasionally post my reviews of these imitation meat or cheese products. I will comment on their overall taste, texture and resemblance to meat. I guess I'm uniquely situated for this task since I regularly eat meat -- VB hasn't had meat in 9 (or 10, 11?) years; the taste of meat is probably a distant memory to him.

(photo courtesy of Food Frenzy and Adventures in Fake Meat)

To start off this new feature, today, I'm reviewing Trader Joe's Italian Sausage-less Sausage, which went on our sausage mushroom pizza. I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised. I prepared the sausage according to package instruction -- by microwaving on high for 1 minute and 30 seconds. I sampled the sausage twice, both as-is and on the pizza. The texture was spot on -- not too mushy or too firm and very similar to medium cooked meat sausage. There was no casing on the sausage, so in that sense, it was dissimilar to a real sausage.

I thought it tasted pretty good as-is. It has a faint soy aftertaste, but not terribly obvious from the first bite that it's not meat. Despite being labeled as Italian sausage, it wasn't very spicy. It was notably bland on the pizza -- the flavors were overpowered by all the other ingredients.

Texture: 5 out of 5 stars
Taste: 4 out of 5 stars
Overall: 4.5 out of 5 stars

In A Nut Shell: As I ate it, I actually wondered if I accidentally bought meat sausages. I don't mind this on my pizza and I would certainly repurchase it.

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