Spaghetti with Veggie Meat Sauce

21 Mar

This spaghetti is what I made for dinner a few hours ago, and it came out surprisingly well! I’m saying surprisingly because I used a vegetarian product called Smart Ground instead of beef or turkey. It’s made of “veggie protein crumbles,” and is packaged as one big chunk. You should try it– it’s fat and cholesterol free, and provides a good dose of protein to boot. However, I will note that it has a distinct soy taste that clearly sets it apart from real meat. Don’t worry, though, because the other ingredients in this dish will mask the soy. Your end result will be a delicious, flavorful sauce to heap on top of a pile of spaghetti! Pair it with a side salad, and you have a complete meal.

I like this dish because it is quick and easy to make- no muss, no fuss. This is one of my own recipes that I made on the fly today. That’s the fun part about cooking! However, I didn’t go in completely unprepared- I read a sampling of spaghetti recipes online to get a general idea of how to proceed with my ingredients. (For example, I learned that if garlic is cooked on high heat for longer than a couple minutes, it will brown and turn bitter.) So I took a bit of advice here, and a bit of advice there, and came up with this:

Spaghetti with Veggie Meat Sauce
 
Serves 4 hungry people, with leftovers to spare!
 
Ingredients
3 tbsp olive oil
1/2 red onion (yellow is okay too), chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup water
 Smart Ground Original
1 1/2 cans tomato sauce
Dried thyme, basil, and oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
1 packet spaghetti
 

This is just about everything you will need (have an extra tomato sauce can handy). I was originally planning to use red chili powder, but decided to use black pepper instead. I think that’s better suited for an Italian dish where you want to bring out the flavors of the dried herbs. I saw chicken stock was used in an online recipe and thought it might be a good choice here to give the veggie crumbles some meaty flavor.

The steps are outlined below:

1. Turn the stove on high. Add the oil and let it heat up- once it’s sufficiently hot (just below steaming hot), lower to medium-high.  

2. Add the onions and saute for about 4 minutes.

3. Add garlic and saute for 1 minute.

4. Add Smart Ground. It comes as a large chunk, so you’re going to have to work at breaking it up into smaller pieces until it resembles the mixture to the right. Really use that wooden spoon to hack away at it until you reach the consistency of ground meat. At this point, the soy meat will start sticking to the pan. Add the chicken stock and keep breaking up the chunks and mixing. If your meat is still sticking, add the water. It’s hard to explain this part- you’ll have to use your judgement in regards to how much chicken stock and water to pour in. Feel free to use more or less until you get a nice, even consistency for the ground meat. You want it moist and not dry. This step should take about 6 minutes.

5. Add the tomato sauce, a little bit at a time, mixing thoroughly with each addition. A total of 1.5 cans will go in. You’ll be surprised at how fast the meat mixture soaks up the sauce!

6. Add ~2 -3 tsp salt. I usually add a little at a time and taste it.

7. Add thyme, basil, oregano. I freestyled it because I love herbs and didn’t care how much I added. Good approximation: 2 tsp basil, 2 tsp oregano, 1 tsp thyme. Feel free to add more- herbs are good for you! 

8. Add ~2 tsp black pepper, or to your liking.

9. Mix well and bring sauce to boil.

10. Remove pan from heat and cover with a lid- this allows the soy meat to soak up all the flavor and cook through a bit more. I have a photo below to give you an idea of the final consistency.

  

Now let the sauce sit for some time, and make the spaghetti noodles.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
And if you have time, a nice salad wouldn’t hurt. 🙂

After you’re all done, simply heap some of that sauce on a pile of spaghetti and serve with your salad. Garnish with some cheese and you’re good to go. So there you have it- a complete meal has been prepared in under 1 hour! 

 

Happy noshing!

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2 Responses to “Spaghetti with Veggie Meat Sauce”

  1. Justine Duppong March 21, 2012 at 4:02 pm #

    This looks delicious! I actually love meat alternatives 🙂 🙂 I don’t know if it’s the texture, or if I just think it’s fun to eat things that are “different”!!

    • luvnorcal March 21, 2012 at 4:07 pm #

      Thanks for stopping by! Meat alternatives can be quite tasty when used in the right recipe. I think I’ve tasted some horrible fake chicken strips before and that’s when I ate them on their on in fajitas. Seasoning, herbs, and spices do the trick. 🙂

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