I spent a whole lot of my life hating mushrooms. Like.. 7/8ths of it. Picking them out of pasta sauce, off of pizza; making disgusted faces at them in the grocery store and at salad bars… and then, one day, there was mushroom ravioli. This ravioli said, “save all of your preconceived notions about mushrooms for someone who cares, because we’ve got buttery, savory, earthy ‘mmmm-ing’ to do“.
This did not lead to me becoming tolerant of, or even okay with mushrooms. No – it lend to a full-on obsession. Portobello, oyster, shiitake, shimeji – white button mushrooms – all of them! I could probably release a mushroom cookbook tomorrow (if I ever wrote a recipe down.. grr) with all of the mushroom experiments I’ve conducted since..
Here is one such delicious experiment, and it is sure to please if you’re in the mood for creamy, rich, and savory.
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Mushroom and Sage ‘Cream’ Sauce over Angel Hair – with Tempeh Crisps (plus, a great spread for crackers!)
- 1/4 onion, chopped
- 6 small-medium mushrooms, chopped (white button or baby bella work best)
- 1/4 C tempeh*, chopped + tempeh strips (see note; a little more or less is okay!)
- potato or corn starch for coating
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- olive oil
- oil for frying (whatever you like – olive, safflower, vegetable, canola…)
- 1/2 C cashews
- 1/4 C almonds
- 1/8 C roasted sunflower seeds (if salted, adjust salt accordingly)
- 2 tbsp white vinegar
- 1/2 C soup stock (need not be exact, hot water with a bit of broth powder works splendidly!)
- 1/4 C milk (almond, coconut, soy, etc… Make sure it’s unsweetened!!)
- 3 – 4 leaves of basil (dried basil is fine)
- 1 – 2 tsp rubbed sage
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 – 2 tsp dried herbs – cilantro, basil, or italian herb blend
- a tiny pinch of cloves or nutmeg
- salt and pepper to taste
- (optional) sundried tomatoes and olives, thinly sliced, as garnish
In a medium bowl combine cashews, almonds, sunflower seeds, and white vinegar. Cover with water and let soak. (If you have the planning skills to soak these things overnight, by all means, go ahead!)
Heat frying oil in an 8-inch skillet over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes – use just enough to cover the bottom of the pan. While oil is heating, take tempeh strips and coat very lightly with starch (salt if desired). Test one strip in the oil to make sure it sizzles nicely but doesn’t burn. Add strips in groups of no more than 6. (I had about 18 strips and did 3 batches) While strips are cooking, ready a paper towel or strainer to rid excess oil. Cook strips until golden-brown – about 1 minute per side. Remove to paper towels and set aside.
In the same pan on medium heat (dispose of excess oil if necessary, and cool pan for a minute or so), add olive oil (1-2 tbsp), onions, mushrooms, tempeh bits, garlic, sage, cloves. Add salt and pepper to taste. Adjust heat until ingredients begin to soften and brown without burning.
*Now would be a good time to boil water for pasta!*
As the mushroom mixture is cooking, drain the soaked nuts, retaining just a tiny bit of water. In the container of a blender (or magic bullet/ninja), combine nuts, basil, garlic powder, herbs, milk, adding salt and pepper to taste. Feel free to add in a little something spicy if you’d like. Pulse/blend until mixture creates a soft ricotta-like consistency. Add a bit of the water saved from soaking the nuts if necessary.
Turn mushroom mixture to medium-low and add in 3 large spoonfuls of nut mixture. Stirring constantly, add in veggie broth until desired sauce consistency is reached (I used about 1/2 cup). Adjust seasonings if necessary and cook on low for about 2 min.
Serve over pasta, with tempeh crisps within reach! (I like to add a bit of cayenne and garlic powder to the tempeh crisps, but they’re also absolutely delicious when used to scoop up extra sauce!)
The remaining nut ‘cheese’ can be refrigerated and eaten with crackers, inside celery, in a wrap, or spread on crispy french bread with some fresh chopped tomatoes and basil – mmmm…
*To make your life easier, use half a block of tempeh, cut it into really thin slices (think 1/8 inch), stack them into piles and cut off the rounded ends on each side to make perfect rectangles. Take the little ends, chop, and use for the cream sauce!
Have a lovely Tuesday!