One thing I forgot to mention in my post last week about the Veggie Conquest dinner was that I won one of the door prizes - a package of Match Vegan Meat, Italian Sausage flavor. Now my friend Annie from the awesome blog Meet the Shannons is always raving about Match products and making scrumptious-looking things out of them, so I had been wanting to try them out, but apparently in New York they are only sold at the D'Agostino grocery stores, and there aren't any in my neighborhood. Seeing as I'm fairly lazy, I just hadn't managed to make a special trip to go buy some. Lucky for me, though, Veggie Conquest saved me the trek and I finally had a chance to bring some home to test out.
The bad news is that now I'm going to have to go out of my way to find a D'Agostino. The good news is that I am a new and adoring fan of Match meats. If they are all as good as the Sausage flavor, then I'm going to be stocking up and may need to invest in a larger freezer. It had a very authentic flavor (chock full of fennel seeds) and the texture is also spot-on, it cooks and browns just like meat would.
I decided to go classic with a pasta dish that would let the sausage be the star of the show, so to speak. Pasta with sausage and broccoli rabe seems to be an extremely popular dish when we get catering at work, and of course I never get to try it, so I figured I'd take this version and veganize it so that it would be even tastier and healthier than the version they get, so there work people, take that.
Conchiglie (Pasta Shells) with Italian Sausage and Broccoli Rabe
1/2 pound (about 2 cups) dried pasta shells (conchiglie, cavatelli, or other small shell-shaped pasta)
1/2 pound (1/2 package) Match Italian Sausage
3 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 bunch (about 3/4 pound broccoli rabe, tough and hollow stems discarded, washed well
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/4 cups vegetable broth (No Chicken Broth recommended for this recipe)
1/4 cup golden raisins
1 Tbsp. Earth Balance or other non-dairy butter
grated vegan Parmesan, for serving (optional)
1. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta until al dente.
2. While pasta is cooking, heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Crumble Match sausage and saute in oil until browned and starting to crisp, breaking up any chunks with back of your spoon. Remove from pan and set aside. (Do not clean out pan.)
3. Cut broccoli rabe into 1-inch pieces. Using same pan as sausage, heat remaining 1 Tbsp. olive oil over medium high heat. Saute broccoli rabe several minutes, until it begins to brown. Add garlic and saute another minute. Add broth and raisins and simmer about 3 minutes, until broccoli rabe is tender. Add butter and stir until well incorporated.
4. Drain pasta and add to pan with broccoli rabe mixture, along with sausage. Mix well and heat through thoroughly. Serve with Parmesan, if desired.
And what did I do with that leftover half package of the Match Sausage? I made Meatball Parmesan subs, of course! It was the perfect amount for two subs - I simply formed the remaining sausage into 8 small meatballs, browned them on all sides in some olive oil, then served on baguette with some marinara sauce, Daiya Mozzarella cheese, and fresh basil. Before topping with the fresh basil, I stuck it under the broiler for a few minutes until the cheese melted. Heaven!