Now, I’m not usually big on “fake meat” when you can use a real-food meat substitute. But in this case, a soy-based sausage product called Gimme Lean is one of my favorite ways to replicate any dish you love that calls for red meat. My husband and I used to make a creamy pasta dinner with white beans and ground sweet sausage that was tasty but unhealthy and bothersome to my stomach. So, when I went veg, I adapted this meat-free version with great success. It’s a hearty weeknight staple for us that will leave you with plenty of leftovers!
1 tube of Gimme Lean soy sausage (can be found at Trader Joes/Whole Foods or regular supermarkets, near similar products such as boca burgers)
1 onion, chopped
1 package of farfalle pasta
1 tub of mascarpone cheese
1 can of Cannellini (white) beans
dried oregano, to taste
1 cup of pasta water, reserved
pinch of salt to draw out the onion’s juices
Set the pasta water to boil while you chop the onion.
Chop the onion and saute over medium heat, salting to draw out the onion’s flavor, until translucent.
Add the Gimme Lean sausuage, breaking up with the side of your spoon, until it’s in crumbles.
Add oregano, adjusting the amount to your taste (I give it a liberal shake from the spice jar).
If you decide to make this with real ground sausage, the pan should be plenty moist by now due to the fat draining. If you’re using Gimme Lean, however, you might want to put a dollop of EVOO in there to keep the pan from sticking.
Next, add the whole can of cannellini beans, with their liquid, and continue stirring the entire mixture to blend.
You can also add pepper here if you really like the taste of it. We don’t use a whole ton of pepper, but I know my Mom adds pepper to everything — if you’re like her, then the seasoning will taste great here. Go ahead and add it!
Finally, as the pasta should be finishing its cooking time, add the whole container of Mascarpone cheese and stir to melt it. Add a cup or so of pasta cooking water to the pan to thin out the sauce.
Finally, transfer the pasta to the skillet using a slotted spoon — it’s OK, in fact it’s better — if the pasta is a little wet and drippy while you’re adding it. One reason you want to add some pasta water to your pan while the sauce is coming together is that the starches help bind everything together cohesively. If the pasta is a little bit wet as you add it to the pan, it’ll only enhance this blending of flavors and textures.
Voila! A one-dish meal of comforting, creamy pasta that’s a *little* bit healthier for you than real sausage. A little bit of this goes a long way, so you should be able to get a hearty dinner out of it plus a lunch or two for the week.
You can use any kind of “shape” pasta you prefer; the idea is that it grips the sauce and stays together better than spaghetti would.
You can also substitute cream cheese or soy cheese for the mascarpone. Or, if you like the flavor of mascarpone (who DOESN’T), then you can use half the amount here and still get essentially the same taste with half the fat.
You can also substitute almost any kind of white bean you prefer. Cannellini are silky and not as fibrous as some others, which makes them easier to digest when combined with the simple carb of the pasta and the soy in the Gimme Lean.
Finally, omit the oregano if you hate it! You can add any other seasoning and this dish can take it.