Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Variations On A Theme: Baked Pasta With Spinach, Gluten And Mushrooms

[Edited because I mistakenly added in part of another recipe - would ya believe!!!! Time for a rest!]

A little while ago I posted a pic and recipe (sort of) for something I whipped up on a slow day in the kitchen (or was it a frantic day? Point is, I made it from what I had on hand - AND I was feeling relatively lazy!). It was a Mushroom Pasta Bake and it was GOOD :)

Shortly thereafter I did a variation on that one. Feeling that I needed to use up some things in the freezer (in this case, some seitan/gluten I had made) and the refrigerator (in this case mushrooms - I always have mushrooms and use any excuse to use them up!), I decided to do another 'bake'. Tofu I usually have in because I buy some of those shelf-stable aseptic packs of silken tofu that I use whenever I run out of the regular tofu. Besides, silken is great for sauces and such - so there!

So here's my 'Variation On A Theme':


Following the previous recipe, more or less (see above) I assembled the following:

3 or 4 ounces quinoa macaroni, boiled just short of al dente and drained (or use whatever small pasta you prefer)
4 or 5 ounces mushrooms, chopped small
1 10-oz pkg frozen spinach, thawed and drained very very well
A few ounces (about 1 cup measure) of my own homemade gluten roast (seasoned as if for roast b**f), minced
Liquid from cooking the gluten roast (half a cup or so you could substitute a good strong veg stock)
1/2 pkg low-fat tofu (you might want to use more so that you have extra sauce to pass at the table)*
soymilk and/or stock - enough to thin out the tofu to a cream consistency*
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 Tbsp vegan worcestershire sauce (optional but we like it most of the time)
3 Tbsp nutritional yeast
1 - 2 Tbsp lemon juice
black pepper
1 Tbsp white miso
herbs according to taste
salt and pepper throughout to taste
Nutmeg for the spinach
crumbs or vegan parmezan cheez for topping (I used my own mix that I keep on hand)

I cooked the pasta and while it was doing its thing I sauteed the mushrooms in a little stock and low-sodium soy. My spinach wasn't completely thawed, so I put it on a low heat at the back of the stove to finish defrosting. I had previously chopped the wedge of gluten roast (you could use some kind of commercial seitan - depending on flavour) very finely - to make it seem like soy crumbles.

When the mushrooms are shrunk to half their size and looking good :) add the gluten/seitan and its cooking liquid or stock. At this point you might need to add a little wholewheat flour to thicken this mixture (stir quickly so it doesn't glom) and add more stock, a bit at a time, until you have a good consistency for a gravy. Let this cook a little to take away the raw taste of the flour. Everything tasting good? (Need salt and pepper? More stock?) A nice rich 'gravy' is ideal here. Okay, set it aside.

For the tofu topping:
Mix the tofu with the remaining ingredients (except for the nutmeg and crumbs) until it tastes the way you want it to. This is a subjective matter and I even change my mind from day to day what I like to have in this kind of dish. You decide. You will want this to be nice and creamy - sort of like a thickish yoghurt.

* Alternately, you could simply whisk a some silken tofu with whatever you like of the same ingredients for an easier topping.


Pre-heat oven to 375

Spoon the spinach into the bottom of a lightly oil-sprayed casserole, grate on a little nutmeg.

Add the macaroni-mushroom-gluten mix in a nice even layer over the top of the spinach.

Next comes the tofu sauce.

As you see, I kinda dump it in spoonfuls over the top then spread it with the back of a spoon to more or less cover. If there's more than you need, fine - it makes a good sauce to pass at the table. If not, then don't sweat it.

Finally top with crumbs, a mix of nuts and nutritional yeast or vegan parmezan cheez - whatever your heart desires :)

And here it is

- all ready to go in the oven for (how long did I say?) 20 minutes, lightly covered with foil, then remove the foil for a last few minutes to brown a little. The timing will depend a little on the heat of your oven (they all differ a bit) and the size and shape of your baking dish.

This had a rich 'meaty' taste - and the spinach was a pleasant complement to the rest of the dish. I'll do it this way in future.

NOTE: I tend to make things a little on the dry side by some people's standards, because we don't care for 'soupy' dishes - unless we're having soup! LOL You may want to add more liquid to everything, more sauce, depending on your taste. Just note as you go along whether or not it looks right to you, okay?


Melody Polakow said...

Looks great! ... I just love how tofu makes such a rich sauce..

VeggieGirl said...

looks like a tasty pasta-bake!!

happy new year!! :0)

Veggie said...

This looks good! I'm going to try something similar.

Natalie said...

Yum! Looks like something I would make, for sure.. I love creamy sauce and pasta.