Friday, July 29, 2011

Seitan, Onion, and Mushroom Pasta

You can use any type of pasta in your cupboard. The first night I used  penne; the second night, I used spaghetti. They were what I had in my pantry. The sauce is what makes this dish. Now if only I could figure out how to take food photos as well as I do scenics, you wouldn't have to take my word for how good this recipe tastes.
Seldom does any dish, vegan or otherwise, taste so good I make it two nights in a row. That all changed when I created the following recipe. You can call it good luck or blessed endeavor. I call it serendipity. I had no idea what I was making when I began throwing things together and nobody was more surprised at how it turned out than me.

While there have been many times in my life that I've eaten the same thing twice in a row because of leftovers, never have I purposely cooked the same thing twice. From someone who hates to be in the kitchen as much as I do, my belief is that every meal should be something quite different than the one before it or else why bother cooking at all?

I suppose that belief came out of living with my husband of 53 years who never ate a leftover in his life until he married me. He came from such a poor family that there was barely enough food to go around, let alone have any left. So when I placed leftovers on the dinner table just a few weeks into wedded bliss, he kindly informed me not to do it again. That began my quest to turn leftovers into something entirely different by dragging things out of the frig and cupboards to disguise the original meal. I got really good at it. And even though Jim figured out what I was up to, he didn't mind because the whole result tasted far different than what I'd started with.

Now all of that to say that when I looked in my frig this week and saw a bunch of mushrooms that needed to be used and a package of seitan, which I'd yet to try, I decided to put them together. The dish was a process of tasting and adding and then declaring it good. Truthfully, the result tasted like I had put meat in it. Perhaps pork or chicken. But it was just a seitan trick to fool my palette. A vegan friend had informed me that seitan tasted nasty and that's why I had let mine sit in my frig for so long. However, the store bought seitan I used was to the point of being delicious. Figure that one out.

The recipe is so simple, you may laugh at me for bragging about how it turned out. Considering I've been a vegan for only 5 months, I ended up patting myself on the back for creating something that was not only edible but enjoyable. Give the recipe a try and see what you think. Then let me know. The people I served it to the second night I made it devoured it with relish and declared it one of my best vegan meals yet. Who knew?


This recipe involved cooking the pasta, making the bechamel sauce, and sauteing the vegetables. You can choose the order in which you build the meal.

In a saute pan put:

2 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 of a medium onion, minced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
Cook till the onions are translucent. Turn them onto a place to cool.

In the same pan put:

2 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 of an 8 oz package of purchased seitan, cut into thin strips
Brown the seitan till it resembles meat. Set aside with the cooling onions.

Wipe out the saute pan so it's dry.

Add to the pan:

1/2 lb. of brown mushrooms, chopped. I used criminis.
Cook on low till all the water is evaporated and the mushrooms are completely dry. Do NOT salt the mushrooms and do not use oil for browning. It will make the mushrooms slippery.

Into the saute pan place:

All the onion and garlic mixture, the seitan, and the mushrooms. Add salt and pepper to taste. Put the pan on a back burner to stay warm.


While the above ingredients are cooking, set a pan of salted water on the stove to come to a boil. Cook the pasta according to package directions. I used 8 oz. for this recipe and it was plenty.


4 Tbs. olive oil
4 Tbs. flour

Heat the oil in a saucepan, add the flour and cook about 3 minutes or until the flour comes together. The mixture will be lumpy. That's normal. Do not shorten this step or the raw flour taste will ruin your sauce.

Using a whisk, slowly stir in:

2 cups of creamy soy milk, either warm or at room temperature. Do not use it cold as it won't whisk in well.

Cook the sauce, whisking continuously until it begins to thicken. Lower the heat and cook a minute or so longer. If the sauce is too loose, let it cook another minute or so; too thick, whisk in more soy milk.

When the sauce is the consistency you wish, grate fresh nutmeg into it and add salt and pepper to taste. I also added a tiny pinch of cayenne because I like spicy.

Add the sauce to the saute pan with the seitan/vegetables/mushrooms in it. Mix well. Now add the pasta, along with a bit of the pasta water if need be. Stir everything together and let it cook a minute or so to blend flavors. Serves 3-4


  1. This came out awesome! Thank you for this :)

  2. I was so surprised at how good this was. Thanks for the recipe!