“When I discovered meatless Italian “sausage” last week, it opened a whole new world to meal ideas for my family. I am a strict vegetarian but my husband and son are not. Although they eat mostly vegetarian they do enjoy a meaty dish every now and then. Since I won’t cook meat or allow it in my pots, pans or refrigerator, they usually get this when we go to a family gathering or they order a pizza in. So when I came across Tofurkey Italian Sausage in the store I was excited that I may have just found the best of both worlds. A vegetarian meal with a meaty taste the boys would love. To be completely honest I generally don’t like fake meat and have steered clear of it in the past. Part of my resolve to eat vegetarian includes eating and preparing more whole foods and eliminating processed foods that aren’t good for you. However, when I read the ingredient label on the “sausage” I was pleasantly surprised to find they were fairly simple; organic tofu, vital wheat gluten, non-GMO canola oil, water, shoyu soy sauce, sundried tomatoes, textured wheat protein, basil, black pepper, garlic, salt and chili pepper. Not bad! So, this past week I have been coming up with new recipes that include vegan Italian “sausage”. For my first recipe, my husband requested a chili that wasn’t like my usual one. Something with a different taste. The chili idea was a winner but we ate it so fast, I didn’t have time to take a photo… so that will be posted later when I get around to making it again. But the chili did evolve into this recipe. We thought it would be a great base for a pasta sauce. Just make a few changes and take out the beans and viola!–Sundried Tomatoes and Vegan Italian Sausage over Quinoa Rotelle. Enjoy!”
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 3 tsp fennel seeds
- 2 tbsp fresh garlic, minced (about 5-6 cloves)
- 3 tsp cumin
- 3 tsp mild chili powder
- 3 tbsp sundried tomato paste
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes (or to taste)
- 1 – 14 oz package Tofurky Italian Sausage, each sausage sliced lengthwise in half then in 1/2 inch slices.
- 1 – 8oz jar sundried or sun ripened tomatoes, drained and chopped
- 4 cups no-chicken or vegetable broth
- In large dutch oven heat 2 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and saute. Turn heat to medium-low and continue to saute for 10-15 minutes or until tender and starting to caramelize.
- While onions are cooking, take the fennel seeds and place in a mortar and pestle and crush seeds. You won’t need them completely crushed but give them a few good turns for about 30-60 seconds. Set aside.
- When onions are completed in step 1, add crushed fennel seeds, garlic, cumin, chili powder, sundried tomato paste and red pepper flakes. Stir spices into mixture well, adding a little of the broth to keep from burning if necessary. Then add in Tofurky Italian Sausage and sundried tomatoes. Stir and cook for a few minutes until nice and fragrant. Gradually add in the broth, stirring the bottom to lift any brown bits.
- Heat to a simmer and simmer uncovered for about 30-45 minutes or until the sauce has reduced down about 1/3 of its original amount to a thicker consistency. This sauce is a thick and meaty, not like jarred pasta sauce but it will still have some juices to it that work well with pasta.
- Serve over a substantial pasta such as rotelle, rotini or penne. I like to use quinoa pasta but brown rice or whole wheat pasta would be another healthy alternative. Pair with a nice kale salad and a loaf of rustic bread.
- Sundried tomato paste is essential! Look for it in a tube at any conventional grocery store stashed on the top shelf above the canned tomatoes. I recently discovered tomato paste in a tube when a friend clued me in on it. I have walked past it millions of times in the grocery store and never saw it until I actually had it on my mind on it to look for it. I love it because you use what you need and store the rest in the refrigerator for up to a month. The tubes only contain about 5 tablespoons but when you only need a little, it beats using a whole can and throwing out the majority of it. If you used canned, I have heard of freezing the rest. I just am not that ambitious so the tubes work great for me.
- You can use any pasta you like but I would highly recommend a healthy kind such as quinoa, brown rice or whole wheat or spelt pasta. Also, make sure to use a substantial type such as rotelle, rotini or penne. Small delicate pasta would not hold up to this thick, heavy sauce. Also, if you have not tried quinoa or brown rice pasta, I’d highly recommend you do. It’s not chewy like wheat pasta can be. It has a nice texture like white flour pasta but it has all the whole grain goodness of quinoa or brown rice.
- This sauce is not a usual pasta sauce consistency. It is thick and meaty. You only need a little pasta below it and a small amount of sauce dolloped on top. It’s very filling!
I only had the boxes left but this gives you a good idea of what to look for. Of course, you can use any type of pasta but make sure to use a substantial type such as rotini, rotelle or penne. The box to the sausage was just wrapped around the center and the actual sausages were sticking out in the clear wrapper on either side. Sundried tomato paste is essential! Look for it in a tube at any conventional grocery store stashed on the top shelf above the canned tomatoes.
This is a photo right after you add the broth. It will be very soup-like. Leave it uncovered and simmer for about 45 minutes and it will reduce down quite a bit (about 2/3 of the amount you started with). The end result will still have some broth-i-ness but it will be fairly chunky.