Spaghetti and “Meat” Sauce – Vegan!
I was inspired to make spaghetti today (01/19/15); I don’t really need much inspiration since Spaghetti is high up on my list of comfort foods. I was however inspired this day because I cut my hair, chopped it all off! The spaghetti was a warm reminder of my long locks. Speaking of locks…I donated to Locks of Love, this time 21 inches (braided) and 28 inches from 2013 [see pics below]! Now back to my spaghetti recipe. The great thing about this recipe, other than the yummy cruelty-free ingredients, is that it is unbelievably easy to make your own pasta ‘meat’ sauce. The ‘meat’ in this recipe is simply: chickpeas (garbanzo beans), mushrooms and whole walnuts. These three ingredients make a great ‘meat’ base; I’ve used this base in recipes from lettuce wraps to burgers or sloppy ‘joes’ among others. It is so versatile the possibilities are endless.
1 (15.5 oz can) Chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans)
4 Whole White Mushrooms
1 ½ Cups Whole Walnuts
Directions: Process all three ingredients in food processor, pulse for 30-45 seconds.
3 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
½ large Sweet Onion or 1 Med. Yellow, chopped
¼ Tsp Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
4-5 Garlic Cloves, minced
10 fresh Basil leaves, chiffonade
2 (28 oz) cans Crushed Tomatoes
1 (16 oz) can Tomato Paste
½ Tsp Garlic Powder
2 Tbsp Sugar
½ Tsp Fresh Ground Black Pepper
1 Tsp Salt, divided
½ Tsp Italian Seasoning
-Heat olive oil in a large pot; add onions and crushed red pepper flakes sauté over medium-low heat for 2 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for another 1-2 mins. Turn off heat. -To Food Processor/Chopper: Add walnuts, chickpeas and mushrooms, pulse for 10-15 seconds. Add in fresh basil and ½ tsp Salt then pulse for another 5 seconds to incorporate. -Add ‘meaty’ mixture to onion mixture. Turn heat back on to medium. Add tomatoes and remaining seasonings (garlic powder, sugar, pepper, salt, italian seasoning), heat to a low slow simmer and continue to simmer for an hour stirring occasionally so the bottom doesn’t stick/burn. – Remember low and slow that is the key.
-Prepare pasta according to package until al dente about 9 minutes. Sauce the hot pasta just before serving. My preference is to add a touch of olive oil or earth balance butter to the pasta then ladle in sauce and toss to incorporate. Top with extra fresh basil. Enjoy!
-This meat sauce recipe makes enough sauce for (2) boxes of pasta or make spaghetti one day and ‘sloppy joes’ the next. If I use the meat sauce for spaghetti both days, I’ll make a fresh box of spaghetti the next day.
-I do suggest organic as much as possible – mushrooms are on the list of always for me. It is suggested to wipe mushrooms clean with a damp cloth instead of submerging in water, why? Because they are like a sponge and will absorb the water and they just won’t cook up the same. This concept (sponge) pertains to their growing environment also – so shoot for organic.
-This recipe suggests canned tomatoes but can be easily made with fresh tomatoes. On about 10-12 plum tomatoes cut a shallow ‘X’ on the bottom and top. Place them in a pot of boiling water for 1 minute. Remove from boiling water and place in ice-cold water. Once cooled to the touch remove skin. – Scoop out seeds and reserve liquid – you can add this liquid back in just before serving when you toss the pasta to coat.