Vegan Mince & Mushroom Stroganoff

Back in my non-vegan days, I wasn’t a big fan of any type of stroganoff. I don’t like adding sour cream to warm dishes and overall, I just thought it was too weird and creamy with tough beef. I realize now that maybe it was the cook that was problematic and not the dish, but I generally stayed away from it.

Until recently and my ongoing love affair with mushrooms.

We always have mushrooms in the fridge, provided we can find them. White button mushrooms. Shitake mushrooms. Porcini, Enoki, Portobello and my favorite, chanterelle mushrooms. I. Love. Them. All.

But this was my partner’s night to choose, so it wasn’t just mushroom stroganoff, there was some Naturli brand vegan mince added for good measure. So, let’s do this!

This dish is easy to make and doesn’t require very many ingredients. BUT if you want to add more and fancy it up, the choice is yours.

Linguine & Vegan Balls with Red Sauce

Spaghetti and meatballs, it’s pretty much a classic among pasta meals and it’s been a long damn time since I’ve eaten any variation of them. Part of it is because meatballs can be a really cumbersome task, more so when they’re vegan, at least that was the case when I first went vegan in Germany. The options were limited and getting them to hold their structure in the sauce was, well, a big ol’ mess.

But this is 2021 and times have changed for vegans the world over. Whether you’re looking for a nostalgic meal because you love pasta and vegan meatballs, or you’re looking for easy vegan meals for Veganuary, this is an excellent one to try.

There’s no need to go crazy with the vegan tomato sauce, if you don’t want to, but I always think we should all go a little bit crazy when whipping up a pasta sauce. Here’s a tip: don’t skimp on your herbs. Red sauce loves herbs like rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil or marjoram. Buy the little cheap-o packets in the herbs & spices section at the grocery store to test them out and see what you like.

You’ll thank me for this tip, but you don’t have to. Just knowing that you obeyed and loved it, is enough for me!

Other than herbs and spices you’ll need:

Vegan soy balls (or falafel, seitan, tempeh, or veggie balls)
Onion
Garlic
Linguine (or spaghetti or other long pasta)
Bell pepper
Tomatoes
Vegan Worcestershire
Cornstarch
Red chili flakes

If you cook with oil, you’ll want to sauté the onions, bell pepper and garlic in hot oil, otherwise use water or broth, added periodically to keep them from sticking to the pan, on medium-high heat. Add onions and bell peppers first, adding the garlic when the other vegetables are just about done.

Dice the tomatoes by hand or mix them in a food processor until you have a fresh tomato sauce without all the added sugar. Add the tomatoes and chili flakes to the sauté pan and bring to a boil, then simmer until the sauce starts to thicken. Add a cornstarch-Worcestershire-water mixture to thicken, and don’t forget to season your veggies or your sauce!!!

Cook the pasta according to instructions and when it’s done, scoop it straight from the pot to the skillet to toss with the sauce.

For the vegan meatballs, just season them and pop in the oven for 10 minutes or until warmed through and slightly crispy around the edges. Add to sauce until fully coated. If you want them extra crispy, put them in the air fryer for a few minutes and see what happens.

With a little bit of prep work, this is an easy vegan meal that can be on the table in 30 minutes or less.

The best thing of all about this easy linguine and vegan soy-balls dinner is that you can mix it up, however you want. Add almond milk and vodka for a nice vodka sauce. Or add spicy peppers for a type of arrabiata sauce. Add olives and capers for an upscale vegan Bolognese. The point is this is one of those easy vegan meals that you can switch up by adding different herbs, spices and pasta types to the dish.

What is your go to pasta dish when you have a carb craving and which kind of red wine do you drink with it?

Vegan Cottage Pie ~ A Shepherd’s Pie Without A Shepherd

One of my favorite cold weather dishes is shepherd’s pie, has been ever since I discovered this bit of deliciousness thanks to a friend who had a fetish for all things English. My very first pie was made with lamb, onions and peas and it was incredible. Since then I’ve made it with pretty much every variation you can think of from, including all of your average proteins and sure, some not so normal ones.

Then I went vegan and since then I have experimented with every mushroom I had access to in Germany and now Romania in an effort to keep my taste buds interested. My favorite is portobello mushrooms because they are gigantic and satisfying as hell but I also like crimini and even white button, oyster and chanterelle mushrooms. They are a perfectly suitable and delicious meat replacement in a cottage pie or as I informed my father in law, a meatless meat pie.

For this shepherd’s pie, I decided to do a blend of chanterelle mushrooms and tofu crumbles because my husband and I are working very hard to get his parents to improve their diets and the tofu crumbles look enough like ground beef to trick their carnivorous brains into thinking it’s meat. I also added onions, garlic, carrots and peas with tomato paste and vegan Worcestershire, which is pretty damn hard to find so if anyone has a preferred brand, drop the brand or link in the comments section.

I started with the mushrooms first because they take awhile to cook and because I like to get them a bit crispy around the edges by heating them in a non-stick pan with no oil. You know how I feel about it, but if you want/need/gotta have oil, then do your thing. Just know that my chanterelle mushrooms are wickedly crispy!

As you can see, I made sure we were all good little grown ups by making a salad to go with the pie.

And the other perfect thing about cottage pie? Mashed potatoes. My potato love is well documented and anytime I get to have mashed potatoes is a good time for me. These particular potatoes included plant butter, sea salt, fresh black pepper and fresh parsley because that’s my favorite way to have them and because I didn’t want to go too ‘exotic’ because this was the first time the in-laws have had this dish.

I used the large 9×13 casserole dish because I’m used to cooking for two people with maybe one extra serving left over for us to split. Not because we’re constant dieters but because both of us are more aware of what we eat and how much, so I make sure to never make that much food for us because, look at the cottage pie, we will eat it just because it’s yummy and we can.

I was so proud of myself with this particular shepherd’s pie because it finally came out like a friggin’ Shepherd’s Pie!! Usually I make too much sauce for the veggie mixture and it never quite comes out like this. One time I made it so dry that basically crumbled when my hubs, Cos, served it up. He’s much better at that part than I am so when he was able to get it out in one piece like this, I cheered.

I literally cheered, y’all.

Of course we enjoyed it with a shot (or two) of Tuica, you know, just in case we didn’t warm up enough from the cottage pie!

Vegan Bolognese…Plus an excuse to drink wine!

As you know, we recently made a trip to Würzburg, Germany and ate a tons of good vegan food. But what you may not know is that this place is a pretty respectable wine region, known for the cute little decanter-style bottles, called Bocksbeutel. And like any good tourist, I purchased more than one bottle.

I’m a pretty avid wine drinker but also kind of finicky so I got a big bottle of red and instantly I knew it would be served with a hearty pasta dish. And since there was a delicious bottle of Dorfprozeltener (dry) I knew I had to go with a Bolognese. I know what you’re thinking, great another tofu recipe and if that’s it, you’d be wrong.

Instead I opted for a couple giant Portobello cap mushrooms for the hint of earthy, meaty flavor this dish deserves. But you can also use tofu crumbles, other types of mushrooms and even beans if you’re feeling adventurous. Since we are a mushroom lovin’ household, the bellas won out. Now the really great thing about any Bolognese dish is that it is packed with vegetables. I’m sure a few purists will see this and cringe at some of my additions, but hey I had a vitamin-packed meal with carbs so…yeah.

Even though there was celery in my crisper, I totally forgot to add it to this dish, instead I used; onion (2), bell pepper (half green & half red), one diced carrot, four garlic cloves, capers, tomatoes and herbs.

Yes! I totally used fresh tomatoes for this and it was my very first time and totally inspired by my husband’s fresh tomato sauce for pizza, which will probably make an appearance on this blog soon. The fresh tomato-y flavor really added a depth to this dish that I can’t explain to you. It was sweet and tart but not over the top.

Sometimes when it comes to pasta, I like to experiment. I like to find weird shaped noodles that I’ve never heard of just to see how they work and most times…they don’t. I used a fat pasta–paccheri reali–that was tasty and hearty, but not great for this dish. I’d recommend you stick with a long pasta like spaghetti or choose something with some stick to it, like rigatoni.

With all of the ingredients assembled, because one of my constant goals is to be more efficient in the kitchen. Between blogging and writing novels and ghostwriting, I need every free moment I can find.

Now…into the kitchen.

The mushrooms are the first thing into the skillet to cook some of the water out of them and let the edges get nice and crispy to complete that earthy flavor. Then the onions, carrots and peppers along with a pinch of fresh rosemary, stirring for a few minutes.

Don’t forget to add salt and pepper as needed but don’t go overboard because this dish is so packed with flavor that you don’t want to have salty sauce.

Next was the garlic, Worcestershire sauce (this one is vegan which means minus the anchovies) and tomatoes, then a few glugs of wine to get all the sticky bits off the bottom of the pan. Let the tomatoes cook until they soften and the sauce becomes more sauce-y than chunky, and when I was happy with the consistency I added a handful of chopped black olives and a teaspoon or two of capers. Feel free to add more–or less–wine if you want a thinner sauce or if you’re cooking for the underage crowd, substitute a veg only broth for the wine.

I am well aware that my plating & photography skills need work!

paccheri reali vegan bolognese

…I’m working on it

 

The wine was good and the food was even better! I served a salad on the side to round out the meal and add a healthy dose of fiber to our day!

Let me know if you try this recipe and how it turned out.