Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Rotini with Red Bean Sausage and Tomato Cream Sauce

Hello again, ninjas.  Well geez - here we are in the Northeast just recovering from one storm, and we're about to get hit with a nor'easter with anywhere from 3 to 12 inches of snow, depending on whether you believe Al Roker or  Seems like perfect timing that I made this warm and hearty recipe last night as a special Election Day dinner for Mike.

I decided to make this because we have an over-abundance of pasta in the house and wanted something warm and filling.  I had intended to make the sausage out of seitan, but ended up not having enough vital wheat gluten so I improvised with a can of kidney beans.  The red bean veggie sausage turned out much softer and less chewy than the seitan sausage I usually make, but this turned out to be a good thing in the end, because it kind of melded with the sauce and permeated the whole dish instead of staying in separate chunks, which gave the whole thing really amazing flavor.  Plus, this sausage is a LOT less time-consuming than seitan, so you can have this whole meal on the table in under an hour.  It all comes together quite quickly once you get going.  Mike definitely gave this one a "thumbs up" and I think it turned out insanely delicious as well, if I do say so myself.  Pair this with some garlic bread and a simple green salad on a night when you want something that doesn't take forever to make, but tastes like you were slaving over the stove for hours.  Perfect comfort food to share with the one you love when it's cold outside!

Rotini with Red Bean "Sausage" and Tomato Cream Sauce

1 lb rotini or your pasta of choice
1 recipe Red Bean Veggie Sausage (see below)
4 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 large onion, diced
1/2 teaspoon sugar
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 oz crimini mushrooms, sliced
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon thyme, crushed in your fingers
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 cup white wine 
1-15 ounce can crushed tomatoes
1-15 ounce can diced tomatoes, with juice
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 cup unsweetened almond milk (or non-dairy milk of your choice)
2 teaspoons salt

Cook the pasta according to package directions.  Drain and rinse with cold water to prevent sticking.  Set aside.
Heat 2 Tablespoons of the olive oil in a large pot over medium-low heat.  Add the diced onion and sugar and cook slowly for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions begin to brown and carmelize.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 Tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Chop the Red Bean Sausage into bite-sized chunks and add to the skillet.  Cook the sausage pieces for 6 minutes, flipping frequently with a spatula, until the pieces are browned and slightly crispy.  Remove from the pan and set aside.
When the onions are golden in color and very soft, add the garlic, mushrooms, oregano, thyme, and red pepper and raise the heat to medium.  Cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently and being careful not to burn the spices.  If it looks like things are sticking too much, you can add a small splash of water.  After the mushrooms have cooked down with the spices, add the chopped fresh rosemary and cook for an additional minute.  Deglaze the pan with the white wine, being sure to scrape up all the stuck on bits from the bottom of the pan.  Add the crushed tomatoes and the whole can of diced tomatoes with the juice (do not drain) to the pot along with the nutritional yeast, almond milk, salt, and veggie sausage chunks.  Simmer gently for 5 minutes until the mixture thickens slightly.  Add the pasta and toss gently to combine.  Cook for another minute until everything is heated through.  Serve and enjoy!

Tips and Tricks:

1. If you don't want to de-glaze with the white wine, you can substitute vegetable broth or even water.

2. Make sure you add the pasta to the sauce rather than serving the sauce over individual portions of pasta.  Cooking everything together at the end lets the starch from the pasta thicken up the sauce.

3. This dish makes awesome leftovers!  If the sauce gets too thick after sitting in the fridge, add a tablespoon or two of non-dairy milk while heating.

4. The pasta is relatively spicy due to both the sausage and the red pepper flakes.  If you're serving this to kids or you just don't like spicy food, feel free to leave out the red pepper - it will still be delicious!

 Red Bean Veggie Sausage

1 15 ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons soy sauce
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon chili powder
3/4 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon coriander
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
pinch of cloves
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/3 cup vital wheat gluten

Mash the kidney beans with a potato masher or fork in a large bowl.  There should be no whole beans left.  Add the rest of your ingredients except the fennel seeds and wheat gluten and mix well.  Crush the fennel seeds slightly using either a mortar and pestle or just put them in a bowl and use the back of a spoon or bottom of a pepper grinder to crush them slightly.  They don't need to be pulverized; you are just trying to release the flavor a bit.  Add the fennel seeds and mix everything together very well.  Add the wheat gluten and continue to mix with a spoon until a soft dough forms.  Knead the dough for 3 minutes. 

That's it!  Now you're ready to shape the sausage and pan-fry it.  The recipe above calls for bite-sized chunks, but this would also be delicious formed into patties and fried up for breakfast with some scrambled tofu and potatoes!

So that's the recipe for today.  I urge you to make's absolutely delicious.  I only post recipes here that both Mike and I feel are really good, but this is one of the best dishes I've made in quite a while.  I hope everyone is staying warm and well fed as winter approaches.  More warm and yummy recipes to come soon!


The Fur Ninja

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