Something that I love to do, and am finally getting back to doing, is veganizing family recipes. In the past I have had fun veganizing meals like my mom’s Stuffed Peppers and Pasta or Baked Macaroni and Cheese. And in this case I am actually I RE-veganizing a recipe because the last time I made it was 5+ years ago (!!). Vegan products have changed a bit since then and the recipe needed to be simplified.
Like many of my favorite dishes, this is one that frequented the dinner table when I was growing up, and it’s one that my mom learned how to make from her mom, my nonna. The story goes that Nonna found the recipe in a newspaper or magazine, which I find oh so endearing. She read the Italian newspaper, Oggi – I wonder if it was in there.
The dish is called “Pasta con Funghi” which literally means “pasta with mushrooms” but it sounds way cooler in Italian, so we’re going to call it that forever. And although mushrooms are the star of the dish, it is equally laden with two other ingredients: onions and ground beef. In its original form it also relies on a base of Campbell’s onion soup to achieve flavor. So, there are few non-vegan ingredients to contend with.
Substituting Beyond Beef for the ground beef in this dish was the easy part (but any plant-based beef or crumble will do here – I’ve even thought about using lentils). Replacing the soup is a little trickier, so I just used extra onion and a box of vegan beef broth to mimic the flavor, along with a nice dose of salt. You could also try mushroom broth, vegan “beef” bouillon cubes, or Better Than Bouillon for the base.
For my part I was happy to keep this recipe simple – 1 package of Beyond Beef, 1 box of broth, 1 lb of pasta, etc., but the beauty of this recipe (and all recipes really) is that you can tweak it to your liking.
RECIPE: Vegan Pasta con Funghi
Although the name means “pasta with mushrooms,” this dish is not complete without sweet vidalia onions, chewy “beefy” crumbles, and an onion soup base.
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 medium sized onions (vidalia or yellow), finely chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 lb package of Beyond Beef (or plant-based “beef” of your choice)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 box of Ocean’s Halo “No Beef Broth” or ~4 cups vegan beef broth of your choice (ex. prepared with a “no beef” bouillon)
- 16 oz white button mushrooms, sliced
- 1 lb small or medium pasta shells
- Vegan parmesan for serving (I like the Violife Shaved Parmesan)
- Cook Beyond Beef in a skillet, breaking into crumbles with a wooden spatula. Set aside.
- Cook pasta shells al dente, drain and set aside.
- Saute onions in olive oil until they are translucent/soft (approximately 10 minutes).
- Add garlic and saute briefly so it begins to cook but does not burn (less than 1 minute).
- Add Beyond Beef and stir. Season with 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste).
- Add Vegan Beef Broth and cover. Bring to a simmer.
- Add mushrooms and replace lid so mushrooms can cook (approximately 5 minutes).
- Stir in cooked pasta shells and serve with vegan parmesan cheese.
- This recipe can easily be adjusted to accommodate your preferences for more mushrooms, more onions, different kinds of mushrooms or onions, different pasta shapes, more or less “soupy,” etc.!
- My mom is a staunch believer that small pasta shells should be used in this recipe, but I liked it with the medium ones (and they were what was available to me at the time.) I think orecchiette would be another great choice.
- If you are unable to find vegan beef broth, you can use vegan “beef” bouillon cubes to prepare your own or even subsitute mushroom or vegetable broth. This will change the taste a little, but should still be delicious.