Bechamel is a classic French white sauce that is traditionally made with butter and cream.or milk. It is considered the"mother" of French sauces as it is used as the base for many other sauces (Mornay., for example).
I decided to try a vegan bechamel when my friend Lidija Le Francois told me about Shitake "bacon". What is the relationship between shitake bacon and bechamel you might ask? Well, way back when there was a dish I used to love at a local restaurant. The restaurant is long gone, but the dish I remember well. It was a penne pasta with bechamel, shitake mushrooms and asparagus. Probably my most favorite dish in a restaurant- ever.
I figured I would try to recreate that dish, using the shitake bacon that Lidija told me about.Though not exactly the same as the dish I remember this was very, very good.
Pasta with Bechamel, Shitake Bacon and Asparagus
2 cups pasta cooked according to package directions
1 tbsp Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Spread
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp all purpose flour
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup non dairy creamer (I used So Delicious Plain)
1 handful shitake bacon (recipe below)
1 tbsp olive oil
4 asparagus stalks cut into pieces
Salt and pepper to taste
Parsley for garnish
Prepare the shitake bacon:
About ten fresh shitake mushroom caps
Drizzle of olive oil
Drizzle of Organic Tamari Sauce
A few drops of liquid smoke
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss all ingredients into a bowl. Do not drench them but make sure they are well coated. Allow them to marinate for about ten minutes.
Place mushroom caps on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake in the oven at 400 for about 30 minutes, flipping once during the cooking process.
In a saute pan heat Earth Balance and garlic over medium heat until garlic is tender. Add one tbsp of flour, stir constantly until a roux is formed. Add the non dairy creamer. Whisk constantly until the sauce starts to bubble. Turn the heat to low and allow to simmer. The sauce will thicken up as you simmer it. If it does not thicken to your liking you may add the extra tablespoon of flour. If you do, be sure to whisk well to incorporate the flour and avoid lumps. Season with salt and pepper. I used a fair amount of pepper.
While the sauce is simmering, heat the olive oil in a small saute pan over medium heat. Add the asparagus pieces and cook until they start to caramelize. Season with salt and pepper.
Once the sauce has thickened to your liking pour it over the cooked pasta, add some sauce, sliced shitake bacon and asparagus. Garnish with parsley.
Eat and enjoy!