The Vegan Gutbuster

creative cooking crew, vegan sausage recipe, hearty vegan sandwich, gutbuster

The Vegan Gutbuster Sandwich
In Honor of My Alma Mater, The University of Illinois

Homemade Vegan Italian Sausage on a Toasted French Baguette
Green Bell Pepper, Onion, Mushroom, Tomato
Spicy Tomato Sauce, Vegan Mozzarella, Basil Chiffonade

Last summer my Alpha Phi sorority sisters met in Champaign, Illinois for a PHI-abulous reunion. Over 80 members who graduated between 1976 and 1982 took a trip down memory lane for the weekend, we visited some of our old haunts, and had a blast reconnecting and rekindling old friendships. We slept and ate in the sorority house, so fun ~ and our contributions for staying there helped to raise funds for the chapter. Thank you for the hospitality, ladies!

alpha phi university of illinois

One of the fond memories from our college years was pizza. Garcia’s Pizza. And the Gutbuster was their famous 3/4-pound slice with sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms, green peppers and onions. Something we all remembered with affection…It had been many years since I even thought about the Gutbuster, but since our reunion weekend, I have been pondering a makeover of our beloved pie.

Creative Cooking Crew
January Challenge: VEGAN
Introducing the Vegan Gutbuster Sandwich!

vegan italian sausage
Our challenge: “Choose one of your favorite rich, heavy, fatty animal-protein-based meals and give it a healthy VEGAN spin.”

creative cooking crew
The Creative Cooking Crew is a new group of 24 imaginative food bloggers hosted by Laz of Lazaro Cooks! and Joan of FOODalogue. Each month brings a new culinary challenge with a round-up of all the entries posted at the end of the month. January’s terrific challenge idea was suggested by Tracey of Tasty Trix. Please stop by Joan’s blog to savor the vegan spin on animal protein by our group of talented cooks.

Vegan Italian Sausage Recipe

creative cooking crew, vegan sausage recipe, hearty vegan sandwich, gutbuster

Vegan Italian Sausage Ingredients:

  • 1 can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 c. cold mushroom broth
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 2 T. low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 1/4 c. vital wheat gluten
  • 1/4 c. nutritional yeast
  • 4 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 2 t. toasted fennel seed, crushed
  • 1 t. red pepper flakes
  • 1 t. sweet paprika
  • 1 t. dried oregano
  • 1 t. fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 T. fresh parsley, chopped
  • salt & fresh ground black pepper

creative cooking crew, vegan sausage recipe, hearty vegan sandwich, gutbuster
Vital wheat gluten is made from the protein found in the endosperm of the wheat berry. When combined with water it becomes highly elastic and taffy-like. It is traditionally used in bread baking, helping to retain gas and steam bringing the baked bread more volume. This was my first time cooking with vital wheat gluten, I was surprised that a “meaty” texture resulted from a “flour” product. By simply steaming then sauteing, the end result is indeed meat-like and quite tasty when paired with beans, herbs, and spices. I can imagine many vegan dishes using this as a master recipe.

vital wheat gluten image

Vegan Italian Sausage Procedure:

First set up a steamer that can hold four large sausages. Bring the water to a boil. Set aside 4 square sheets of aluminum foil. This “dough” only takes a few minutes to prepare, so make sure the steamer is ready to go.

In a large bowl, mash the beans. Add all the other ingredients to the beans in the order listed. I found it was easier to mix with my hands, like making meatloaf. Place one fourth of dough onto each of the foil squares and mold into approximately a 5 inch log. Wrap the dough in the foil by folding in the sides then rolling up the foil to make a cigar. The elasticity of the vital wheat gluten will help shape the sausage into a smooth log as it steams.

Place wrapped sausages in the steamer and steam for 40 minutes. Let cool to room temperature and refrigerate overnight.

(I learned how to make vegan sausage from Punk Post Kitchen here).

creative cooking crew, vegan sausage recipe, hearty vegan sandwich, gutbuster

Gutbuster Preparation:

Unwrap the chilled sausages and let come to room temperature. Saute in canola oil over medium-high heat until brown and crispy on all sides, the interior will remain moist. Drain on paper towels while assembling the Gutbuster.

creative cooking crew, vegan sausage recipe, hearty vegan sandwich, gutbuster

  • french baguette, sliced in half lengthwise
  • olive oil
  • green bell pepper, sliced
  • yellow onion, sliced
  • dried oregano
  • red pepper flakes
  • tomato sauce
  • sliced mushrooms
  • tomato, cut into small wedges
  • vegan mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • chiffonade of fresh basil
  • salt and pepper

Saute green bell pepper and onion in olive oil until soft. Add oregano, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper to taste. Stir in tomato sauce to coat the vegetables, then keep warm. Meanwhile saute mushrooms in olive oil until golden, season with salt and pepper.

creative cooking crew, vegan sausage recipe, hearty vegan sandwich, gutbuster
Cut the baguette into slices about the same length as the sausages. Brush the baguette with olive oil and toast until golden brown. Place the hot sausage on the bread. Top with green pepper/onion mixture on one side, mushrooms and tomatoes on the other side. Secure the sandwich with picks. Top with vegan mozzarella and place under the broiler until the cheese starts to melt. Garnish with fresh basil.

Enjoying the Memories and Flavors of the Old
Garcia’s Gutbuster Pizza
Vegan Style…

More Unique Vegan Dishes

Try My

Spicy Pickled Tofu Carpaccio, Beet Syrup, Asian Slaw

Pickled Tofu Carpaccio, Beet Syrup, Asian Slaw

(recipe here)

Spinach & Chickpeas in a Bengali Mustard Sauce

Spinach & Chickpeas in a Bengali Mustard Sauce

(recipe here)

36 thoughts on “The Vegan Gutbuster”

  1. This is incredible, LL, I would love to make my own vegan sausage! Actually, I’ve been wanting to make (turkey) sausage for a long time now, so I think this might be a better place to start. As always, you are an amazing inspiration…and that is one beauty of a sandwich!

    1. Hi Faith ~ making the vegan sausage was so much easier than I thought it would be. And it was really tasty. Let me know if you try it.
      P.S. Thanks for the tweet 🙂

  2. Looks like something you’d find at an Italian Sausage stand at any street fair (only better) — and I bet it was to hard to taste the difference with the spices and accoutrements you used. Excellent interpretation of the challenge.

  3. Now there’s a blast from the past when my mom would serve dad vegetarian sausage long before anyone had ever heard there was such a thing. Love this take on a meat-centric dish.

  4. Oh my: this I want to make soonest!! And it does not sound too difficult or time-consuming!! Don’t even want to think back on a recent blog describing a place all dedicated to TVP items . . . oh yes, let us not go there . . . .

  5. Lori – WoW ! This looks amazing. Right up my ally. Can’t wait to try it. You are totally right, this could be an awesome foundation for many a vegan meal. Bravo!!!

  6. Omg, I am SO impressed with your vegan sausage!!! And I also am in love with the name of this dish … I think this is my favorite of the challenge, even though I know there are no winners; : )

    1. Hi Trix – I am so excited that you like the homemade sausage, especially since you recommended the challenge. Loved your idea. Glad I got the opportunity to cook with vital wheat gluten. It is extraordinary. I am working on some vegan chicken patties now. Won’t be buying pre-packaged vegan sausages ever again.
      I think this round-up will rock!
      By the way – making the sausage was easier and tastier than I would have imagined, recommend to everyone to give it a try…

  7. Hey LL,
    You have definitely transformed this one!
    I have not tried making vegan sausage, but now feel inspired to give it a try after seeing your results. Looks like the real thing (almost)!

  8. Well, I never knew that about the gluten properties. I have some in the pantry that’s about 2 years old. I need to refresh and play with it. You’ve made a gorgeous sandwich. As an Illinois girl I have heard the term gutbuster before. It is one of those words that makes me smile. Excellent job, you have mastered the challenge.

  9. I just made this and it was delicious. However, I know it is called the gutbuster, but the portions were enormous! I divided the dough into 4 portions and I rolled one portion and it was comically large! I decided instead to use 1/3 cup of dough for each sausage and it was the perfect size. I ended up making 7 sausages.

    1. Hi Valerie – thanks for taking the time to comment. Yup, it is a GUTBUSTER. So named after that college gut-busting pizza years ago. Glad you liked it, and made into portions that worked for you. If you have college-age boys, I recommend using the original proportions.
      Your comment is good advise for those with normal appetites 🙂

  10. Hi there, I just stumbled across this recipe and plan to give it a try. Just a quick question, is it safe to grill on the BBQ? will it hold together or fall apart since there is no “sausage casing” holding it together.

    1. Hi Tracy – I haven’t tried it but I think it will hold together, it is not really crumbly. I would be worried it might stick to the grates though, so be sure your grates are very clean and well oiled.
      Good luck, let me know how it goes!

      1. I will let you know. I use a grilling mat and that helps with veggies sticking and falling through the cracks, so that may help. I just made the Punk Post recipe you mentioned and it is quite good, could use a bit more salt. I sliced it and lightly fried it in grape seed oil and a side of mustard and it was good. So, I’m going to make your recipe today too and which one I like best. The Punk Post recipe could easily be used is a stew or hearty soup so it will be put to good use. Thank you for your reply. I’m so excited.

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