I am very selective when it comes to pasta sauce. Most store-bought sauces are bland, runny and over-all lackluster (aside from my hometown favorite LaRosa’s sauce, of course). So, I took to creating a chunky, hearty sauce of my own complete with veggies and seitan to turn pasta night into a full-bodied vegan feast.
Generally, I make family-style portions of meals like this because the leftovers keep and travel well, and then I don’t have to worry about making lunch for the week. Plus it makes a quick, easy and crowd-pleasing potluck dish. (Use brown rice pasta to go gluten free.) So, I’ve devised this recipe with to 8 to 10 servings. Cut the ingredients in half for a smaller portion.
- 4 small cans tomato paste (the cans are approximately 5 ounces)
- Water, enough to fill all of the tomato paste cans
- Vegetable or olive oil for boiling the pasta and sautéing the seitan and veggies
- 2 packages of seitan crumbles (I’m partial to Upton’s Naturals Italian sausage style seitan; sub browned faux ground beef or sausage crumbles in a pinch.)
- Spinach, about 6 ounces
- White mushrooms, about 12 ounces chopped (sub portabellas in a pinch)
- 1 large red onion finely chopped
- 6 roma tomatoes cubed (sub canned tomatoes or another variety if you must)
- 1 tablespoon pepper
- ¾ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 tablespoon Italian spice (sub oregano or more basil)
- 1 tablespoon basil
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 bulb of garlic minced
- 2 boxes of pasta, about 13 ounces each (I like to use whole grain spaghetti or rotini)
Add oil, pasta and a pinch of salt to a large pot, filling it with water until it covers the top of the pasta. Bring to a boil. Drain the water once the pasta softens and set aside.
In a small pan, sauté the seitan in a bit of oil over medium heat until browned. In a large skillet, add oil and garlic, sautéing on low heat for two or three minutes. Turn the heat up to medium, adding the onions and mushrooms. Sauté until the mushrooms have slightly softened, then add tomatoes. After a few minutes, add the spices — pepper, sea salt, Italian spice, basil and red pepper flakes — as well as the spinach. Saute until the spinach has softened and mix in browned seitan.
Gradually add in the tomato paste and water, mixing well. Taste the sauce and adjust spices accordingly to your liking. If sauce is too thick, gradually mix in tablespoons of water until you reach the desired consistency. If it’s too thin — a problem I doubt you’ll have — add in flour by the teaspoon to thicken it up. And in the end, the sauce should look like this:
Serve the sauce over pasta, topping it with vegan Parmesan cheese if you so desire. Add a simple salad and some garlic bread to round out this Italian-style vegan treat. Enjoy!
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