Vegan scallops with pesto pasta
When September rolls around, I start thinking of autumn, and autumn reminds me of mushrooms, and mushrooms remind me of scallops and… Wait, what? Did I lose you? Well, that’s understandable I guess. But keep reading and I’ll let you in on a fantastic secret: How to make vegan scallops using these incredible mushrooms!
These are not your ordinary, everyday, run of the mill kind of mushrooms. These are king oyster mushrooms! As their name hints, they are huge! More importantly for us, when they are cooked, they have a texture that is remarkably like scallops and lovely seafood-like and umami flavors. But that consistency – I can’t begin to tell you how much I like it – is a thing to marvel at! By slicing them just the right thickness and removing the caps and pointed feet, well… you can see for yourselves!
These mushrooms are grown year-round in Asia, and you can usually find them fresh or frozen, in Asian supermarkets. They also often appear at farmer’s markets this time of year, probably because just like me, people associate mushrooms with the fall.
I was never a fan of overly “fishy” seafood, even way back when I actually ate it. Still, in order to provide a more complex flavor, I like to marinate these mushroom slices using some nori seaweed flakes or dulse flakes (another sea vegetable), along with some vegetable stock, and a splash of lemon and cooking wine. The mushroom slices absorb these different flavors and the moisture, resulting in a fantastically tasty vegan scallop with a consistency to die for!
Then there’s the pesto. While most commercial pestos contain some type of cheese, a good helping of nutritional yeast does the job perfectly! If you’re new to eating plant based foods, you might not have heard of nutritional yeast, or “nooch” as we like to call it. But once you start using it, you will probably end up putting it on pretty much everything – just like I do these days! Nothing quite beats the taste and smell of fresh basil, and mixing it with ‘nooch’, olive oil, garlic and freshly roasted pine nuts gives you a fresh tasting pesto that beats any that comes from a jar.
You can, of course, use any pasta that you like for this recipe. However, I prefer to use one that is rich in protein and flavor, and is green to start with, even before tossing it with the pesto. This is soybean fettucine, and not only is it protein rich, it’s also low in carbs, high in fibre, gluten free, organic and of course, vegan!
If you want to impress and surprise your friends, go out and find some fresh king oyster mushrooms and make this dish for them soon! They won’t believe their eyes or their tastebuds when you tell them it’s 100% plant-based. I can guarantee you that vegan scallops with pesto pasta is sure to be a hit!
- 6-8 king oyster mushrooms
- 2 tsps (10 ml) – vegetable stock powder, dissolved in water
- 1 Tbsp (15 ml) – white, cooking wine
- 1 Tbsp (15 ml) – Nori seaweed flakes or dulse flakes
- a splash of lemon juice Smoked tofu ‘bacon’
- 8 oz (ca 225 g) – extra firm tofu, smoked or natural
- 1 Tbsp (15 ml) – tamari or soy sauce
- 1½ tsp (7.5 ml) – liquid smoke
- 1 tsp (5 ml) – maple syrup Pesto and pasta
- ⅓ Cup (.8 dl) – pine nuts
- ⅓ Cup (.8 dl) – nutritional yeast
- ⅔ Cup (1.6 dl) – olive oil
- 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1+ large handfuls of basil, ca 1 plant
- Fettuccine pasta for 4 people
- Cut the mushrooms into slices approx. 1 inch (2.5 cm) thick. (If you want all the pieces to look like real scallops, remove the cap and lowest, pointed part of the foot and save them for another recipe.)
- Combine the other ingredients in a bowl, crumbling the nori seaweed into pieces if necessary, and mix well.
- Add the mushrooms slices and toss to coat them all. Marinate for 1 hour, flipping the slices after 30 minutes.
- Cut the tofu into smallish cubes or your preferred shape.
- Mix the three marinade ingredients in a bowl.
- Add the tofu, stir and marinate for 30 mins or more.
- Dry roast pine nuts in a frying pan.
- Mix all ingredients in food processor.
- Bring a pot of water to a boil and add your pasta.
- Remove the tofu from the marinade and fry until slightly crispy on the outside.
- Remove the mushroom slices from the marinade and pan fry in oil over medium-high heat. Flip after about 5 minutes, making sure both sides get some color.
- Drain the pasta and toss with the pesto.
- Top with the ‘scallops’ and ‘bacon’ and optionally, some vegan parmesan-style cheese.