Hearty & Spicy Vegan Eggplant & Mushroom Bolognese Pasta Sauce

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2016

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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I had a fridge chock full of produce & not enough days of cooking before me to get through it all without a lot of it going bad – so – I made this very thick & hearty tomato sauce.  It is a great way to use a ton of veggies & clean out that fridge.  Additionally – if you puree it or use an immersion blender – you can hide the veggies from kids & other finicky palates.

I grilled the eggplant first – to add a smokey flavor – but this is not necessary.  I used kale & collard greens – because I had them – but they are totally optional – or you could use spinach, instead.  You can eliminate a lot of the ingredients without a negative impact on this sauce so feel free to customize it.

I had a bunch of sage that I had frozen.  It worked really well in this sauce – so – if you have herbs that are going to spoil, put them in sandwich bags & freeze them for use in future sauces.

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Hearty & Spicy Vegan Eggplant & Mushroom Bolognese Pasta Sauce

Makes a boatload – so either serve a large group or freeze some

INGREDIENTS

9 oz vegan beef crumbles (I used Beyond Meat)

Olive oil

7 Japanese eggplants (or 3 large regular eggplants)

2 onions – diced

2 bell peppers – diced

2 large zucchini – chopped

4 jalapenos – diced (optional)

1 bunch kale – (optional) ribs removed, washed & chopped (or spinach)

1 bunch collard greens – (optional) ribs removed, washed & chopped fine (or spinach)

8 oz mushrooms – sliced

1/4 cup fresh sage – chopped

1-6 garlic cloves – chopped

1/2 cup tomato paste (1 small can)

3 (26 oz) containers of chopped & strained tomatoes – in any combination (I used 2 strained & 1 chopped)

1/4 cup vegan Parmesan (very, very optional)

1 TBS salt

1-3 tsp crushed red pepper (according to your tolerance for heat)

1 TBS dry parsley

1 TBS oregano

1 TBS thyme (I used fresh chopped)

1/2 cup fresh basil – chopped

GARNISH – Cooked pasta, fresh chopped parsley or basil

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DIRECTIONS

If you are grilling the eggplant – slice them & either spray them with cooking spray or brush them with olive oil & then grill them on both sides.  Set aside to cool – then chop.  Set aside.

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Heat 2-3 TBS olive oil in a large stock pot.  Add onions & bell peppers & jalapenos.  Saute until softened.

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Add the zucchini & mushrooms & saute until tender.  Stir in the chopped eggplant.

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Add the greens you are using & fold in so they wilt.  Add the garlic & cook for a minute or two.

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Add all the other ingredients – EXCEPT the beef crumbles.   Bring to a boil & then reduce the heat & simmer for about 30 minutes.  If it gets too thick, add water.

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Now – if you are going to puree the sauce or use an immersion blender – now is the time.   Whatever you decide – pureed or not – add the beefy crumbles & heat through.

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Season with S&P.

Toss some of the sauce with cooked pasta.  You will have a lot of sauce left over – unless you are feeding a very large group.  Garnish with basil and/or parsley.

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Chef’d & Beyond Meat Smash-Up – Part 2 – Beyond Beef Vegan Feisty Tacos with Black Beans

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2015

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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There has been a huge rise in food services that send either already-prepared meals to your home for you to heat up and, more interestingly, ones that send pre-measured fresh ingredients & recipes & you make the food at home. I tried Blue Apron – which is the latter service – and was not totally impressed. One issue was the lack of selection for vegetarians (and nothing for vegans) & the fact that there was no option for a single person. Their subscription plan meant I would get 3 meals for two each week – which meant six of my seven dinners were decide for me each week – with me eating the same thing twice – three times in a row. Also – if you happened to LOVE a dish – you could not order it again soon – but had to wait – indefinitely – hoping it would eventually reappear in the cycle.

Chef’d has solved those problems. No subscription – meaning order what you want & when you want it. Get the same thing every day for two weeks – or just get one thing – different things – a few times a month. Here is how they work:

Choose from Famous Recipes

Browse through hundreds of recipes from your favorite chefs, and cook them in the comfort of your own home!

From Our Kitchen to Yours

Fresh pre-portioned Ingredients delivered to your door. Reorder what you like, when you like. No subscriptions!

Cook, Love, Live

Enrich your life by creating memorable delicious experiences of love through our hand-cultivated recipes.

And look at the various tastes & lifestyles they accommodate

Shop Meals

LIFESTYLES:

FAMILY FRIENDLY
GOURMET
VEGETARIAN
GLUTEN FREE

PROTEINS:

BEEF
CHICKEN
SEAFOOD
LAMB
PORK
TURKEY
VEGAN
HERE is the list of the famous chefs contributing recipes. And HERE are the vegan & vegetarian meals currently offered (impressive – no?). I was given the opportunity to try the service & jumped at the chance. I am a long-time fan of Beyond Meat & the pairing of these two companies is exciting to me. I got the Beast Burger & Tacos & will post about the tacos here – the burgers are in THIS post.
Here is what showed up (for the tacos – enough to feed 4):
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As with the Beast Burgers – I am very familiar with Beyond Meat‘s Feisty crumbles & I am already a fan.  And again – as with the Chef’d Beat Burger meal – this meal came together quickly & easily & everything tasted fresh & delicious.  In this case – there was a lot of extra vegan cheese (I am not complaining!) and more than enough chipotle Vegenaise (again – not complaining – especially as it came in the tiny condiment jars I am so fond of).
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The recipe called for guacamole with crushed red pepper in it.  I am a guacamole purist (just avocado, lime & salt, please) – so – I opted just to slice the avocado & use it naked and I added all the crushed red pepper supplied (enough for 4 tacos) into the beefy crumbles meant for two (I like spice).
The black beans come together in 5 minutes & the lime & cilantro make them taste light & fresh & clean – not lard-heavy or mushy.
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And the feisty beef crumbles also only took about 5 minutes.  Because I added lots of crushed red pepper – they were also very spicy.  I forgot to add the chipotle Vegenaise until after I had taken most of the pictures but it was a nice flavor layered in with the tortillas, crumbles, lettuce & avocado.
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And again – like with the Beast Burgers – this meal was flavorful, robust, filling and SO EASY to make!  What a great pair of options for any vegan or vegetarian – especially a newby not sure where to start – and for anyone looking to cut back on meat but not on flavor or protein.
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taco

Southwestern Vegan Beef & Vegetable Shepherd’s Pie with Chipotle Sweet Potato Mash

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2015

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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I am all about Beyond Meat!    Click HERE to get a coupon to try some yourself & to use their store locator.  This brand is the absolute best vegan meat on the market – in my opinion.  These beefy crumbles are so delicious that even unapologetic carnivore & hyper-finicky eater, the badass Miles Miller, ate this shepherd’s pie & declared it delicious.  He even went on to rave that he would eat this fake ground beef in pasta or in tacos etc etc.  This is a man that takes the TEENSIEST nibble of remotely questionable foods (like any vegetable or dish that is new to him or anything vegetarian) & often even indulges in a sour expression of distaste to make his displeasure clear.  But not in response to this stuff.  I am convinced that you need not even tell a meat eater that this stuff is fake.  They would be very unlikely to guess.

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That said – shepherd’s pie is pretty hard to photograph.  I even Googled an image search to see how others had pulled it off.  Pretty much everyone leaves it in the pan it was cooked in – because, when plated, it spills out & can just look like chunky mush.  In the interest of full disclosure, I stacked two servings on top of each other to create that deep, lasagna look.  You can do this, too, when serving it – otherwise a single serving looks sorta anemic.

This came together in an hour – start to finish – and is really, really easy.   I would use more sweet potato, in the future, to create a deeper pie but it is full of flavor & has a bit of a kick.  Used random vegetables I had in the house from my Farm Fresh to You delivery but you can use whatever floats your boat.

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Southwestern Vegan Beef & Vegetable Shepherd’s Pie with Chipotle Sweet Potato Mash

Serves 6

INGREDIENTS

for the chipotle sweet potato mash

6+ medium sweet potatoes – peeled & cubed

2 chipotle peppers – minced

1 TBS adobo sauce (from the can of chipotle peppers)

4 TBS vegan butter

1/3 cup or more almond or soy or rice milk

S&P

for the shepherd’s pie

18 oz vegan ground beef

6 small carrots – chopped

2 sunburst or pattypan squash (or zucchini) – chopped

1 bell pepper – chopped

1 serrano pepper – chopped (seeds removed for less heat)

1 small red onion – chopped

2 celery stalks – chopped

2 garlic cloves – chopped

1 chipotle pepper – minced (or more for more heat)

2 TBS olive oil

1 TBS canned or fresh jalapeno – chopped

1 TBS cumin

1 TBS garlic powder

1 TBS onion powder

Handful of cilantro – chopped (and extra for garnish)

Cayenne or chili powder

Extra vegan butter

(other vegetables you could use might be corn, peas, Brussels sprouts, mushrooms, cauliflower, broccoli)

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Boil the sweet potatoes until very soft.

In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil and, basically, heat all the shepherd’s pie ingredients until the vegetables are soft.  Season with S&P.  Add more canned jalapeno or chipotle or adobo for more spice.

Mash the sweet potatoes with the milk, butter, chipotle peppers & some S&P.  Taste & season with more chipotle peppers or adobo sauce or S&P.

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I treated a casserole pan with cooking oil & put the meat & veggies in there & then spread the sweet potatoes on top.  Sprinkle some cayenne or chili powder on top & drop a few butter cubes on there, too.

Bake for 30 minutes or until it begins to brown a bit.

Serve with cilantro.

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