Eating this dish is like taking in warm, forkfuls of flavorful love – a true comfort food. It reminds me a lot of a dish we used to make back in our omnivore days. I was in Whole Foods earlier today and discovered a vegan artisan sausage substitute from the Original Field Roast Grain Meat Company. They had a variety to choose from including Italian, Mexican Chipotle, Wild Mushroom, and Smoked Apple Sage. I picked the Apple Sage and decided to try “veganizing” our old family favorite. It turned out fantastic, so of course I had to share it with you! The beer adds great depth of flavor, and the nutritional yeast lends a savory (almost cheesy) flavor along with tons of amino acids, and B vitamins.
The grain sausage was all natural and full of protein. It’s main ingriedient is vital wheat gluten, so it wouldn’t be an item you’d want to serve to someone with a gluten intolerance, or Celiac’s disease. Vital wheat gluten (wheat protein) is also what is used to make seitan, a popular meat alternative affectionately called the “wheat of meat”.
1 lb. pasta (penne or rigatoni)
1/2 cup water
1 package Smoked Apple Sage Grain Sausage, links cut in half lenthwise, then sliced cross-wise in 1/2 inch pieces
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
1 large bunch (or bag) of spinach, chopped
1 bottle of beer (pale, amber or wheat)
1/2 cup nutritional yeast (add more or less, to taste)
2 teaspoons dried (or 2 Tablespoons fresh) basil
salt and pepper to taste
- Bring large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 2 minutes less than package directions.
- Once pasta has been added to boiling water, start heating the 1/2 cup of water in a large pan, over medium heat.
- Add grain sausage and tomatoes and cook until tomatoes have softened and broken down a bit.
- Deglaze pan with about 1/2 cup beer. You may need to add more later. Keep an eye on it. Deglazing allows you to scrape the bits that are stuck to the pan and incorporate them back into your sauce.
- Drain pasta, once cooked. Be sure to 1st reserve about 1 cup of the cooking water for the pasta.
- Turn off heat. Add nutritional yeast, basil and spinach to the tomato mixture.
- Add drained pasta to the sauce and stir well, until sauce covers the noodles and spinach is wilted. Add pasta water and/or beer, if it becomes a bit dry as the pasta soaks up the moisture of your sauce.
- Plate and dig in!