I'm not a vegetarian but lately I have been trying to find more ways to incorporate vegetables into my daily meals. I came across this recipe through the latest America's Test Kitchen cookbook, found here.
I couldn't wait to give this one a try because I LOVE mushrooms. I've mentioned my love for mushrooms previously, on my post about the ATK portobello burger, found here. This one was deeeelicious. I also couldn't believe it wasn't actual meat sauce, the texture looks almost identical to me!
I do want to forewarn you that this recipe does require a high speed blender or a food processor. I have the Cuisinart Mini-Prep Plus Food Processor for Christmas last year and I use it for just about anything - mincing garlic, tomatoes, making salad dressings, etc. The food processor does a lot of the work for you in this dish so you'll definitely want to use it to get the right texture for the "meat" sauce. This dish gives all the joys of eating pasta without the feeling of taking a nap right after! :)
10 oz baby bella mushrooms, trimmed
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 tsp salt
1 onion chopped
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 (28-oz) can crushed tomatoes
2 cups vegetable broth
1 (15 oz) can chickpeas, rinsed
1/2 tsp sugar
Pulse mushrooms in food processor until chopped into 1/8 - 1/4 inch pieces, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. You may have to pulse in batches for this to work, especially if you have the smaller food processor, like me. Set chopped mushrooms aside in a bowl as they are processed. (Hint: processed mushrooms should resemble "meatlike" texture)
Heat 5 tbsp of oil in a large dutch oven or pot over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add mushrooms and salt and cook until mushrooms are browned, about 8 minutes.
While mushrooms cook, pulse onions in food processor until finely chopped, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Transfer onion to pot with mushrooms and cook until onions are soft, about 5 more minutes. In a small bowl, combine remaining 1 tbsp oil, garlic, and oregano in a bowl.
Add tomato paste to pot and cook stirring constantly, until mixture is rust colored, 1 - 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and push vegetables to side of pot. Add garlic mixture to center and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in tomatoes and broth; bring to simmer over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer sauce for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
While sauce simmers, pulse chickpeas in food processor into 1/4 inch pieces. Add chickpeas to pot and simmer until sauce is slightly thickened, about 15 minutes. Stir in basil and season with salt, pepper, and sugar. (This sauce will keep up to 2 days in the fridge or frozen for up to a month!) Serve with zoodles for a low carb option, traditional spaghetti, or what we used here: Ronzini Veggie Delight Spaghetti (a happy and yummy medium between the two.)