Vegan pizza-pasta for a comforting, down-home option on Meatless Monday

Many plant-based eaters weren't raised that way, and even have fond memories of homemade casseroles -- including the cheesy, sausage-laden baked pasta dishes you'd sample at potlucks. This recipe, adapted from the Post Punk Kitchen, uses cashews and roasted red pepper for a thick, creamy sauce; we added crumbled sausage-spiced seitan for a meatier experience.

See also: Vegan applesauce muffins for a breakfast favorite on Meatless Monday

You will need:

1 red pepper 1 cup cashews 2-3 tablespoons olive oil 1 medium onion 2 cloves garlic 2 cups vegetable stock 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch 1 tablespoon tomato paste 1/4 teaspoon oregano 1/4 teaspoon fennel seed 1/2 teaspoon thyme 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic 1/2 teaspoon turmeric 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon ground mustard 1/2 pound pasta 1/2 pound sausage-style seitan

1. Soak the cashews in plenty of water for at least two hours before you make the sauce. 2.Roast the red pepper until the skin is blackened and place in a plastic or paper bag. Let it sit and sweat while you work on the rest of the sauce. 3. Peel the garlic. Peel and chop the onion. Start a large pot of water boiling for the pasta. 4. Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for seven to ten minutes, until translucent. Perfect. 5. Press the garlic into the saucepan and cook for just a few more seconds, so garlic is lightly toasted and fragrant. 6. Put the onion-garlic mixture in a blender. Drain the cashews and add them, too. Peel most of the black off the pepper with a knife, then remove the seeds and chop it roughly. It's going into the blender, too, along with the vegetable stock. Add the oregano, fennel seed, thyme, granulated garlic, turmeric, salt and mustard. Add the tomato paste. 7. Blend ingredients until creamy, then return the sauce to the saucepan you used to cook the onions and garlic. Cook over medium heat and allow the sauce to thicken (and don't forget to put the pasta in your pot of boiling water! Crumble the seitan into the sauce while you cook it -- it should take five to ten minutes to thicken. 8. The pasta and the sauce should be done about the same time. Drain the pasta and return it to the pot you used to cook it. Add the sauce and stir until thoroughly combined. A double-batch of this recipe would be a perfect potluck dish!

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