Italian Vegan Sausage Ravioli with Fresh Pasta and Mama Sauce



I have to apologize for the pic- the lighting makes the food look like hell. Which is tragic, because this is one of the best eyes-rolling-back-into-my-head meals that I've made in awhile. It was for my Valentine, so it was a bit more all-out than ... who am I kidding, I'm always cooking all out :)

So- for starts, I made the Italian Sausage from Vegan Brunch. You'll recall that her Chorizo is amazing from the same book, and this is equally so. I had actually made these before and we ate them on buns and they were kind of meh (nothing fantastically exceptional). But pairing these with the pasta sauce turns out to be the trick. Literally, Davey and I were taking sausage slices and just dunking them into the sauce ala chips and dip and it was amazing! For the ravioli filling, I minced the sausage and we just went with it alone. It would be great with cheese too, but I'm not wild about vegan cheeses, so for us, the sausage plain was great.

I then made the pasta dough. I got the recipe online HERE. It was good. I am a bit of a pasta making amateur. We did it a few times in Chicago years ago when we first got our handy Kitchenaid pasta attachments for the stand mixer, but we used egg in those days. This was a really stiff dough that was a bit hard to work with at first, but it turned out alright. It was also pretty heavy, I think that had to do with thickness, but, it was fine. I did find the most fantastic trick for ravioli making, though! I looked up how to seal them up without egg online and found a fella who did the following; you lay the dough down over a mini muffin tin loosely, push the dough down gently into the muffin cups, fill the divots with your filling, top with another dough sheet, roll over the whole thing with a rolling pin (which seals and gets bubbles out), flip the whole thing over, cut your squares out, and voila! It was so flipping easy, and such a great trick. I highly recommend that (versus laying the stuffing on top, then sealing- which I remember to be a bit of a pain).

The ravioli just gets boiled like normal and that bit is done. Meanwhile, I was simmering mama sauce all day. I'm posting my recipe below, which, like chili, gets altered depending on what's in the house. On Valentines, I used about 1/4 c of fresh herbs (oregano, sage and rosemary), then added dried thyme, oregano, marjoram and such. That was absolutely delicious, but this is too. The key, I think, is to simmer for 4+ hours and also to go with what the sauce is doing. It never seems identical to me, throughout the day, I taste and add sugar if it's too acidic, oregano and pepper if it's too bright, etc. Go with what tastes good for you. But, by all means, make that sausage with it because, holy amazing!

Mama’s Sauce

1 roma or small tomato
2 28 oz can tomato sauce
1 lil (8oz?) can tomato paste
1 small palm full (2T or so) dried basil
1 small palm full dried parsley
¾ onion
6 cloves garlic
1 ½- 2 cups veg stock
3 T dried oregano
1 T ground sage
½ t thyme
shake-a shake-a cayenne pepper
2 bay leaves
1 t sea salt
1 t ground black pepper
2-3T sugar

Sauteé onions until translucent, add garlic, sauteé a bit more, add basil (or save for the last hour- if it's fresh, I wait, but I've added dry at the start) and parsley, add 1 28 oz can of tomato sauce, paste, broth and all spices- no sugar.

Mix well, bring to a rapid simmer, turn heat down to low, simmer- stirring somewhat often for about 4-5 hours, tasting and adjusting every hour or so. Add sugar if it’s too acidic. Blend with an immersion blender, add 28 oz can of sauce, mix well, heat until warmed again, stir and serve.

Soffrito Seared Seitan




Oh my, this is good! This is from the Candle 79 book and is to die for. The sauce is prepared with a load of great, fresh, raw ingredients (except for the roasted tomatoes). You marinade the seitan in the sauce for 4 hours and then take it out, pan sear it, add the sauce back in to heat it up. It is fantastic. It would be a great summer meal because except for the tomato roasting at the beginning, the cooking is minimal- and it has a really light, fresh flavor to it which would be excellent on a hot day.

They recommend serving on rice with avocado on the side which adds to the aforementioned light, fresh aspect. The sauce almost tastes like pico de gallo. There's tomatoes, garlic, onion and cilantro- which I think is where that fresh salsa idea comes from, but there's also red bell peppers, parsley and some other stuff that hints more at a meal sauce. Anyway, we loved it and I do think that this will become a staple meal. Minus the marinade time, I think it's an hour of cooking tops (oh, also minus the seitan making time too, but still!) It's an excellent dish!

Arancini w/ Roasted Tomato Sauce



This is an appetizer from the Candle 79 book. It was pretty darn good. Quite a lot of effort for an appetizer at home, but good. I had read it over and deemed it worthy of being an entree- but it turns out that they were right. It would have been far better as a starter.

Their sauce was a great lesson in simplicity though. Turns out that I have never written about my mama sauce recipe. I'll have to photo it and post it next time I make it. My childhood BFF is Italian. She refuses to eat any other red sauce besides her mom's. This is rather stereotypical (the whole "my mom's sauce is the best" thing)- but I've had Lucia's sauce. It is the best. My recipe is an amalgam of hers and RFD's, and involves a minimum of 6 hours of cooking. One time that I made it, I was tasting it throughout the day and found a significant shift between hours 5 and 6. At 5 it was a really good sauce, at 6- the flavors melded in a way that really dialed it to 11. And, Lucy had said that 8 hours simmer is ideal, so I'm going to listen to her.

Having said all that- this is a sauce that only takes about an hour. They get away with it because the only spices in it are fresh basil, salt and pepper. The key to boosting the flavor is roasting the tomatoes. I was extremely skeptical- being a mama sauce convert and all, but this is a really nice, fresh, light sauce that worked great with this dish and would be amazing with a really hearty ravioli. So, I shall keep it in my pocket for such occasions.

The balls themselves were good too. For one, they incited endless crass jokes and giggles from me and Davey (3rd grade humor). Also, they were tasty. They were a bit labor intensive for an appetizer, but would really be impressive at a dinner party. They are basically Italian rice that is supposed to be stuffed with tempeh and vegan cheese, then breaded and pan fried. All went well except that the rice mix wasn't firm enough to hold it's shape when I stuffed it so I mixed the filling into the rice and then rolled them up and breaded and fried them. This actually worked out well- I think that getting tempeh in most bites worked out best- it could even have used about double the tempeh to make me happy.

All in all- very tasty!

BBQ Tempeh Sandwich




This BBQ Tempeh Sandwich is from "The 30 Minute Vegan" (I was trying to counteract the longer RFD recipes). It took about an hour though, so... the title is a mite bunk.

Anyway, the home barbeque sauce was good, I doubled the liquid smoke called for because- 1/4 t, c'mon! That's loony. I also added 1T of Liquid Smoke to the marinade, which gave everything a better, more intense bbq flavoring. The buns were from Trader Joes and suited the sammy perfectly.

The recipe was great, the barbeque was very tangy (lots of extra sauce, too),a nd the recommended lettuce, tomato and red onion are necessary- don't skip them.