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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Hearty Vegan Beef & Vegetable Stew for the Slow Cooker

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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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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or just print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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I have posted a beef stew before – my Easy Vegetarian (Vegan) Irish Stew for a Slow Cooker – from almost exactly three years ago but this current one is superior.  It is superior due to my just getting better at vegan stews & a higher quality vegan meat.  I am all about Beyond Meat – and I think it is the best on the market – but they don’t offer certain things.  In this case – I wanted cubes of beef – and Beyond Meat only offers a ground beef.  So – I decided to use both Beyond Meat’s Beefy Crumbles and Gardein’s Beefless Tips – which were wonderful in my Vegan Spicy Ginger-Garlic Red Pepper Beef Steak with Vegetable Fried Cauliflower Rice – seen just below.  I used one bag of each in this stew.  If you really want to ratchet up the presence of the beef – double up on one or both of these – or use your own favorite faux beef.

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There are about an infinity of ingredients in this stew – most of which can be eliminated without a negative impact on this dish.  I happened to have all but mushrooms, an onion & carrots on hand.  If you are missing an ingredient or two (or three) – I think you will still like the results.

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I used those vegetarian bouillon cubes above but I am going to stop buying them.  They contain palm oil & an obscene sodium content so – I will be moving on to Better Than Bouillon, when my supply of these runs out.

I served my stew over mashed cauliflower.   When I was done eating – I mixed the leftover mashed cauliflower directly into the stew.  This had the effect of making it seem thicker & denser – but it is just cauliflower – so it actually lightens the dish up.

**NOTE – I made this in a slow cooker (on high) while I hiked.  It was pretty much done when I returned 2 1/2 hours later.  You could make this just as easily stove top – maybe in less time.  Just bring to a boil & simmer until the veggies are cooked.  To thicken it – return it to a boil.  Whisk 1/4 cup cornstarch into some hot water & add to the boiling stew.  It should thicken nicely.  If not – do it again.  Add water if it gets too thick.

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Hearty Vegan Beef & Vegetable Stew for the Slow Cooker

Serves 6 or more

INGREDIENTS (VERY flexible – both in what you use & quantity)

Olive oil (or the cooking oil of your choice)

1 (9 oz) vegan ground beef (or more) – I recommend Beyond Meat

1 package (or more) of Gardein Beefless Tips (or your favorite vegan cubed steak)

1 onion – diced

2 Portobello mushroom – cut up (or whatever mushrooms you prefer)

4 carrots – sliced

2 jalapenos – diced (optional)

1-2 cups cubed white-fleshed potato of any variety (I don’t peel my potatoes)

1 small sweet potato – cubed (I don’t peel my potatoes)

2 celery stalks – chopped

4 radishes – cubed (I only used them because I had them so they are very optional)

2 tomatoes – diced (or a cup of canned diced tomatoes)

2-6 garlic cloves – minced

5 cups vegetable stock

1 cup dry red wine (optional) – or another cup of stock

6 oz lima beans (I used frozen)

1-2 cups peas (I used frozen)

1 cup corn (I used frozen)

1/4 cup pasta sauce (I used Rao’s but you can use your favorite or omit it)

1 TBS Bragg’s liquid aminos OR soy sauce OR tamari

1 TBS dry mustard

1 TBS vegan Worcestershire sauce

1 TBS Kitchen Bouquet (seasoning available in the spice aisle or near gravy ingredients)

Few squirts Maggi  (seasoning available in the spice aisle or near gravy ingredients)

1 tsp smoked (or regular) paprika

2 bay leaves

6 whole coves

1 tsp agave nectar (or sugar)

1/4 cup chopped parsley

1/4 cup nutritional yeast (optional)

1/4 cup corn starch (or more)

S&P

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DIRECTIONS

I really prefer slow cooker recipes that require ZERO prep.  Recipes where you just dump the shit into the cooker & go away.  But – I really wanted a stew-like flavor here so – I thought cooking the onions & bringing their flavor – & the flavor of the sauteed mushrooms were important.  Also – browning the steak cubes assists in the visual presentation.  You could certainly just dump it all in & would probably be just as happy with the result.  Your call.

So – heat 2 TBS or so of oil & saute the onions & the beef cubes.  When the onions start to brown.  Add the garlic & saute one minute.  Add the wine (or stock) and quickly deglaze the pan.  Put this into the slow cooker.

In the same pan, add another TBS or so of oil & saute the mushrooms until they begin to sear.  Deglaze the pan with a tiny bit of water & add the mushrooms to the slow cooker.

If you are going stove top – do the steps above & then put those things & the rest of the ingredients (EXCEPT THE CORNSTARCH) into a huge stock pot, bring to a boil & simmer until the vegetables are tender – not more than 1/2 hour.  To thicken it – return it to a boil.  Whisk 1/4 cup cornstarch into some hot water & add to the boiling stew.  It should thicken nicely.  If not – do it again.  Add water if it gets too thick.  Season with S&P.

If you are slow cooking it – dump the rest of the ingredients (EXCEPT THE CORNSTARCH) into the slow cooker & leave it covered & on high for 3 hours or so.   To thicken it – remove the lid. Whisk 1/4 cup cornstarch into some hot water & add to the boiling stew.  It should thicken nicely.  If not – do it again.  Leave the top off until it thickens.  Add water if it gets too thick.  Season with S&P.

Serve over rice or mashed potatoes or – as I did – over mashed cauliflower.   When I was done eating – I mixed the leftover mashed cauliflower directly into the stew.  This had the effect of making it seem thicker & denser – but it is just cauliflower – so it actually lightens the dish up.

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