One of my easiest and most satisfying recipes in the slow cooker is my vegan version of Sunday gravy – a well-loved staple in the home of every Italian family. I have a much more complicated version in Fool a Carnivore (check out Pasta with Bolognese Sauce on pages 39-40 of my book), but I wanted to hit the easy button and make something that would require much less prep time.
Both recipes take advantage of the slow cooker, but while my Bolognese Sauce used both a ground meat and a sausage analogue, I made things easier by just choosing two kinds of Tofurky sausage – their Italian Sausage and their Spinach Pesto version. I also had the brain storm about buzzing the sausages in the food processor. This step shortened my prep time and distributed the small chunks of sausage more evenly throughout the dish.
I eliminated the mushrooms and the complicated panade with the ground meat analogue, in favor of a fresher taste using just onions, garlic, fennel, celery, fennel seeds, diced tomatoes, red wine, tomato paste, bay leaf, and oregano in my slow cooked sauce and adding the sausage bits for the last 10 minutes while the linguine cooked.
Why did I use three sausages? Well four seemed too much and two seemed too little. Three seemed just right! Feel free to use two Italian and one Spinach Pesto, or three of either!
Although you can certainly make this vegetarian by offering freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, I thought the vegan version was very satisfying without it!
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium organic onion, finely chopped
- 1 medium fennel bulb, cored and coarsely chopped
- 2 stalks organic celery, halved and thinly sliced
- 3 cloves organic garlic, pressed
- 1 tablespoon organic fennel seeds
- 1 28-ounce can organic diced tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons organic tomato paste
- ½ cup red wine
- 1 fresh bay leaf
- Several sprigs of fresh organic oregano
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 Tofurky Spinach Basil sausages
- 1 Tofurky Italian sausage
- 1 pound organic linguine
- 1-2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil (optional)
- Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (optional)
- Turn on the slow cooker and use the sauté function, setting the temperature at 275 degrees. Sauté the onion for about 6 minutes, and then add the fennel and celery. Sauté another 3-4 minutes before adding the fennel seeds and garlic.
- Add the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, red wine, bay leaf, and oregano and cook on low for 5-6 hours.
- Put your pot of water on to boil for your linguine, and add about 2 tablespoons of salt once you are at a rolling boil. Add the linguine and stir occasionally to make sure it doesn't stick.
- Taste your sauce, and add a bit of salt and pepper.
- Cut each of the sausages in 5-6 pieces and then buzz in the food processor, until you have coarse pieces. Add the sausage pieces to the sauce and cook on low while the linguine is cooking.
- Before draining the linguine, reserve a cup of starchy pasta water.
- Drain the linguine and add it to the sauce, along with about ½ cup of the starchy pasta water and toss to combine (adding a little more pasta water only if necessary to get a good consistency and perhaps a teaspoon or two of extra virgin olive oil.)
- Serve with optional Parmigiano-Reggiano.