Spaghetti with ‘Sausage’, Zucchini and Mushrooms (Vegan)

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This recipe is a re-boot of my family’s favorite pasta.  It’s incredibly flavorful and loaded with sausage, zucchini, mushrooms and tomatoes.  The difference is that I substituted Beyond Meat Hot Italian Sausage for traditional meat sausage.  I haven’t made this recipe for about five years, since I stopped eating meat, so I was happy when Beyond Meat introduced their wonderful vegan sausages.  Top with freshly grated Vio-Life Vegan Parm for a salty, nutty flavor.  The recipe tastes just the same as it used to, but now its guilt-free.  I guess you really can go back home…

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This is one of the first recipes I started making early in my marriage back in the 80’s.  I had no idea how to cook, so I ordered a subscription to a monthly book series, “Great Meals in Minutes” which is really how I learned to cook.  The format of the books is quite brilliant and shows step by step instructions, but most importantly teaches HOW TO HAVE EVERYTHING DONE AT THE SAME TIME!  which is always the biggest challenge in cooking.  With that in mind, I try to design my recipes incorporating all the steps including a photo of what the dish is supposed to look like.  Call me needy, but I like to know what I’m shooting for.

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This recipe is based on one that originally came from the Pasta Menus book of this series. It quickly became a favorite of ours and then of our kids too, once they were old enough that we didn’t have to separate their food into piles that didn’t touch each other any longer.  Once you’re there, you’re golden.  However, for those parents with young kids, this recipe also worked when we were at that phase of life.  I would fix the kids plates with plain pasta with butter with sauteed zucchini (or defrosted peas) and plain sauteed sausage.  Then I would proceed to make the proper dish for the grown ups. Easy, and I didn’t have to become a short order cook in the process.

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SHORT CUTS & SUBSTITUTIONS: Over the years, I have taken short cuts when necessary.  I think this dish is best when the sausage and veggies are cooked separately and added to the sauce toward the end, as their flavors and textures are retained, however, I have also had good results doing it all in one pot.  Saute the onions and garlic, then add the sausage and cook about five minutes.  Add mushrooms and wine and let evaporate.  Then add tomatoes, herbs, and zucchini.  Simmer while pasta is cooking.  Another short cut is to use diced tomatoes with Italian herbs already included.  If you prefer a smoother sauce, substitute crushed tomatoes.  If it is still tomato season, you can use fresh tomatoes.  Just parboil them for a few minutes in boiling water.  Remove with a slotted spoon and peel when cool enough to handle.  Dice and use as directed in the recipe.  Or go the lazy way and just dice whole.  The skins will mostly disappear into the sauce if you cook them a little longer.

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VEGAN PRODUCTS:I like to share new vegan products as I find ones I like. (FYI, there are many I don’t like and no one pays me to recommend products) BEYOND MEAT offers a Sweet and a Hot Italian Sausage.  I like them both but think the hot has a little better flavor without being too spicy..  The sausage has a pleasing texture too.  You can cook them as you would any meat sausage but not for as long since they aren’t really raw and you don’t want them to dry out.  I also really like the VIO LIFE JUST LIKE PARMESAN.  It comes in a small wedge so you can freshly grate it as needed.  It tastes just like regular parmesan.  Click the underlined product names above for nutritional information on their products.

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PASTA TIPS: Don’t forget to save a cup of pasta water before draining!  It literally is the magic that restaurants use to make a sauce glisten.  Its not the same as adding hot water.  Pasta water contains essential starch that smooths out your sauce and gives it a velvety quality.  You should never rinse pasta after cooking (unless you are making a cold pasta salad) and pasta should remain wet, not dry, because the starch is what helps the sauce stick to the pasta.  Adding oil to your cooked pasta to prevent sticking actually prevents your sauce from sticking to the pasta which may seem counter-intuitive. Instead, add back a little pasta water.  Trust me, pasta water will change your life…

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  SPAGHETTI WITH ‘SAUSAGE’, ZUCCHINI AND MUSHROOMS (VEGAN)

  • 1/2 medium onion
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup olive oil(divided)
  • 28 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsn fresh chopped basil or 1/2 tsp dried
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme or 1/4 tsp dried
  • Salt (for pasta water)
  • 1 lb spaghetti or spaghettini
  • 2-3 small zucchini (1 lb)
  • 5-6 mushrooms (criminy or white)
  • 1 lb sweet or spicy Beyond Meat Italian Sausages
  • 3 Tbsn red wine
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • freshly grated vegan parmesan cheese (optional)

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  • Chop onion and garlic finely. Heat half of the olive oil in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Reduce heat and saute onion and garlic for about 5 minutes, or until onions are translucent.
  • Set pasta water with salt and a drizzle of olive oil to bring to a boil.

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  • Add tomatoes, basil and thyme to onion mixture and stir to combine. I like to rinse the tomato can out with about a quarter cup of water and add to the pan. Simmer 10 minutes on low.

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  • While sauce is cooking, slice zucchini into 1/8 inch rounds. Wipe mushrooms with damp paper towel, remove tough ends and thinly slice

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  • Heat remaining olive oil in skillet over medium heat and saute zucchini several minutes until lightly browned  Remove zucchini to a plate and set aside

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  • Beyond Meat sausage has no casings to remove.  Just break off small pieces with your fingers. Saute sausage in the same pan, breaking it into a crumble with a wooden spoon.  Add mushrooms and mix gently.  Add wine and let it evaporate.

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  • Add zucchini and sausage mixture into the tomato sauce and stir to combine. Let simmer over low heat while pasta is cooking. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste.

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  • Cook spaghetti according to directions.  Before draining, remove one cup of pasta water and set aside.  Drain but do not rinse pasta.

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  • Add about a 1/2 cup pasta water to sauce and stir to combine.  Its the magic ingredient that binds everything together!  If it seems too dry or too skimpy, add the rest and simmer until ready to serve.

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  • Spoon sauce on top of pasta or mix all together, depending on your preference. Serve with grated parmesan if desired.

Spaghetti with Vegan Sausage, Zucchini and Mushrooms

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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  • 1/2 medium onion
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup olive oil(divided)
  • 28 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsn fresh chopped basil or 1/2 tsp dried
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme or 1/4 tsp dried
  • Salt (for pasta water)
  • 1 lb spaghetti or spaghettini
  • 2-3 small zucchini (1 lb)
  • 5-6 mushrooms (criminy or white)
  • 1 lb sweet or spicy Beyond Meat Italian Sausages
  • 3 Tbsn red wine
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • freshly grated vegan parmesan cheese (optional)
    1. Chop onion and garlic finely
    2. Heat half of the olive oil in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Reduce heat and saute onion and garlic for about 5 minutes, or until onions are translucent.
    3. Set pasta water with salt and a drizzle of olive oil to bring to a boil.
    4. Add tomatoes, basil and thyme to onion mixture and stir to combine. I like to rinse the tomato can out with about a quarter cup of water and add to the pan. Simmer 10 to minutes on low.
    5. While sauce is cooking, slice zucchini into 1/8 inch rounds
    6. Wipe mushrooms with damp paper towel, remove tough ends and thinly slice
    7. Beyond Meat sausage has no casings to remove. Just break into small pieces with your fingers.
    8. Heat remaining olive oil in skillet over medium heat and saute zucchini several minutes until lightly browned  Remove zucchini to a plate and set aside
    9. Saute sausage in the same pan, breaking it into a crumble with a wooden spoon.  Add mushrooms and mix gently.  Add wine and let it evaporate.
    10. Add zucchini and sausage mixture into the tomato sauce and stir to combine. Let simmer over low heat while pasta is cooking. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste.
    11. Cook spaghetti according to directions.  Before draining, remove one cup of pasta water and set aside.  Drain but do not rinse pasta.
    12. Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup pasta water to sauce and stir to combine.  Its the magic ingredient!  If it seems too dry or too skimpy, add the rest.
    13. Spoon sauce on top of pasta or mix all together, depending on your preference. Serve with grated parmesan if desired.

Meatless Monday – Pasta Fazool (Vegan)

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Cold and rainy (or snowy) days call for hearty and warm foods that warm you up from the inside out.  This savory pasta dish, which is a twist on an Italian favorite, Pasta Fazool, was a winner with my meat eating men.  Picture penne pasta and lentils swimming in a delicious hot broth, flavored with tomatoes, garlic, onions and the zing of red pepper flakes. I served each bowl with a pinch of parmesan and chopped parsley.  Plus its a One Pot Meal!

IMG_20190213_185034This is technically not Pasta Fazool, or pasta e fagiole, which means pasta with beans.  Lentils are actually a legume not a bean, so the technical name would be Pasta e Lenticchie which is way less fun to say and why I call it a twist on a classic.  You can make it more traditionally by using two cans of white beans, drained and added in place of the lentils, if you wish.  Both are delicious options.  Pasta Fazool is usually more soupy than your typical plate of pasta but it can be made as wet or dry as you wish.  To make it more of a soup, just add more water when you add the pasta or even more before serving if too much liquid has evaporated.  If you are using broth to start, adding more water shouldn’t diminish the flavor.

img_20190213_175453.jpgThe parmesan cheese is optional as a topping but I want to share a new vegan parmesan cheese that I find is just as good as the real thing.  I found myself eating slices of it while cooking.  I mean someone had to taste it. 🙂  This Just Like Parmesan by Violife contains no dairy, soy, gluten, lactose or nut products.  So what is it made from?  Well, mostly a combination of potato and rice starch, rice protein, coconut oil and sea salt, including Vitamin B12.  As Violife says, “Delizioso”!

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PASTA FAZOOL

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
1/4 -3/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup brown lentils, rinsed
1 can diced or crushed tomatoes
1 tsp fresh thyme
4 cups vegetable broth or water
8 ounces pasta (such as ziti or penne)
1 tablespoon flat-leaf parsley, chopped (optional)
parmesan cheese, grated (optional) *Check out Violife Vegan Soy*

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  •  In a large saucepan or dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and some of the red pepper flakes, and cook, stirring often until soft and transluscent, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.

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  • Add the tomatoes, thyme and broth and bring to a boil. Taste and add salt and pepper and more red pepper flakes, to taste.

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  • Add the lentils, reduce the heat to medium low and simmer with the lid slightly ajar, until the lentils are almost tender, 20 minutes.

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  • Increase heat to medium and add one or two cups of water along with the pasta and simmer, uncovered, stirring often so that the pasta doesn’t stick to the bottom, until the pasta is al dente, 10 to 12 minutes. Add water if necessary. The end result should be a bit soupy, unless you prefer it more pasta-like.

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  • Divide the pasta among serving bowls and garnish with the parsley and parmesan, if desired.
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Pasta Fazool

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
1/4 -3/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup brown lentils, rinsed
1 can diced or crushed tomatoes
1 tsp fresh thyme
4 cups vegetable broth or water
8 ounces pasta (such as ziti or penne)
1 tablespoon flat-leaf parsley, chopped (optional)
parmesan cheese, grated (optional)

  •  In a large saucepan or dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and some of the red pepper flakes, and cook, stirring often until soft but not brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
  • Add tomatoes, thyme and broth and bring to a boil. Taste and add salt and pepper and more red pepper flakes, to taste.
  • Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer with the lid slightly ajar, until the lentils are almost tender, 20 minutes.
  • Increase heat to medium and add one or two cups of water along with the pasta and simmer, uncovered, stirring often so that the pasta doesn’t stick to the bottom, until the pasta is al dente, 10 to 12 minutes. Add water if necessary. The end result should be a bit soupy.
  • Divide the pasta among serving bowls and garnish with the parsley and parmesan.