Vegan Pasta Alla Vodka With Smoky Shiitake Bacon
I’ve never been a fan of mushrooms, but that all changed this evening when I discovered the wonderful flavors of shiitake bacon. Recently, I’ve been attempting to curb my winter dining out addiction and really focus on cooking delicious plant-based meals, and this shiitake bacon is the perfect way to satisfy my cravings for rich, savory meaty flavors.
I’ve also been excited to start experimenting with cashew cream and other vegan dairy supplements, so tonight I prepared myself an incredibly filling, healthy winter meal. I made a creamy vodka sauce topped with shiitake bacon. The flavors complemented each other beautifully in this big bowl of hearty quinoa pasta. I was completely satisfied and I’m looking forward to having he leftovers for lunch tomorrow. The best part is that I don’t feel weighed down from this gluten-free, vegan version the way I would if I had ordered traditional penne alla vodka at a restaurant. Here’s how to make it…
1 box quinoa pasta (I used shells)
Vegan Vodka Sauce:
1 can whole peeled tomatoes (discard half of the liquid)
1 cup cashew cream
1/2 cup water (for cashew cream)
2 tbs tomato paste
2 tbs vodka
1 shallot finely chopped
3–4 cloves of garlic finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
10 Shiitake mushrooms
2 tbs grapeseed oil (or enough to coat mushrooms)
2 tbs Braggs Liquid Aminos (or soy sauce — enough to coat mushrooms)
1 tsp liquid smoke (optional)
Start by soaking cashews in cold water for about an hour (or overnight if you have time). Drain and blend in food processor or blender with fresh water — about half a cup (add more if necessary. consistency should be thick and smooth). Set aside.
While cashews are soaking, make the shiitake bacon. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Remove stems from mushrooms and slice flat part of the mushroom into long pieces. Coat in a bowl with grapeseed oil, liquid aminos or soy sauce and liquid smoke (if you have available). Let sit for a few minutes. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 10–20 minutes. Or until just crisp, keeping an eye on it to make sure it does not burn. Remove and let cool.
While shiitake bacon is cooking, saute garlic and shallots over medium heat for about 10 minutes or until soft. Keep in pan over low heat.
Put quinoa pasta on to cook according to directions on the box (it should take about 9 minutes).
Return to food processor and combine canned tomatoes, tomato paste, vodka and cashew cream and blend until smooth. Add this sauce mixture to the pan with the garlic and shallots and mix and heat over low-medium heat. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Strain pasta, return to pot and mix in sauce. Plate and top with shiitake bacon.