Ae
Last week I accepted the vegan challenge and made a vegan tostada. The hardest thing about cooking vegan was skipping the cheese. I always top my Mexican dishes with some sort of cheese.
Accidentally Vegetarian 020514 AE 1 For the Capital City Weekly Last week I accepted the vegan challenge and made a vegan tostada. The hardest thing about cooking vegan was skipping the cheese. I always top my Mexican dishes with some sort of cheese.

Kelly "Midgi" Moore

Baked spaghetti is a quick meal that’s also easy on the taste buds. Whether you’re vegetarian, vegan or more traditional, it’s also an easy dish to customize.


Kelly "Midgi" Moore

Baked spaghetti is a quick meal that’s also easy on the taste buds. Whether you’re vegetarian, vegan or more traditional, it’s also an easy dish to customize.

Click Thumbnails to View
Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Story last updated at 2/7/2014 - 1:37 pm

Accidentally Vegetarian

Last week I accepted the vegan challenge and made a vegan tostada. The hardest thing about cooking vegan was skipping the cheese. I always top my Mexican dishes with some sort of cheese. It’s a required ingredient. Omitting it was almost painful. However, I must confess that the avocado was so creamy it almost made up for the lack of cheese. Almost. And, I did try to buy vegan cheese, but it looked like shredded paper, which rather frightened my taste buds.

This week I’m traveling again and have a lot to do, so I thought a make-ahead meal would be perfect. I decided on a pasta bake. I love spaghetti, especially when it’s topped with lots of cheese.

Spaghetti is one of my go-to meals when I’m tired and in a hurry. It’s easy to make and one of my favorite dishes from childhood. I love the smell of the meat browning, adding the onions and garlic, and then the tomato sauce and it all simmering. Spaghetti goes well with a great glass of red wine or an ice cold glass of milk. Milk and Italian food go really well together.

I happily putter in the kitchen, dicing, chopping, simmering, tasting, as I prepare the sauce. I boil the pasta in a separate pot. Once it is cooked al dente, it goes into a small baking dish topped with sauce, stirred a little and topped with a delicious amount of mozzarella cheese and then baked.

While the casserole was baking I clean the kitchen, slice some ciabatta bread and set the table. The smells of the casserole were filling the room, making my mouth water. Grant and I sat down to dinner and he digs into the gooey, cheesey, tomatoey, goodness. After two servings he proclaims, “Something is missing.”

I looked at him quite perplexed. Mentally reviewing the ingredients list, I confirmed that everything was there. Then I looked at my plate. There was definitely something missing.

The meat. I had completely forgotten to add the ground beef.

He not so tactfully declared his concerns that I was becoming a vegetarian. This did not sit well with the freezer full of game he had procured. Would he no longer get to eat meat? Of course not, I assured him. I had obviously forgotten it for some reason.

It was an accident.

We had a good laugh and now call this our accidental vegetarian recipe. The next evening, I browned the ground beef and added the remaining sauce to it and made Sloppy Joes. It’s funny how an accident can create a whole new recipe.

As for the meat, ground chicken or turkey will work just as well. For my vegetarian friends, you may leave the meat out all together and for my vegan friends, please omit the cheese. This dish can be made days ahead and only requires re-heating. I’m feeling this is a one-hit wonder, but who knows. It would appear I’m becoming more vegetarian every day.

This week I present a make-ahead meal that can be adjusted to any dietary needs: Baked Spaghetti. Thank you to my healthy friends for motivating and for giving me some great new challenges. Please keep them coming.

Until next time…

Eat and enjoy,

Midgi

 

BAKED SPAGHETTI

4 ounces thin spaghetti

½ pound extra lean ground beef (chicken or turkey)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large can crushed tomatoes

1 can roasted, petite diced tomatoes

1 bell pepper, chopped

½ red onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning

1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Salt and pepper to taste

½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese

¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped

Pre-heat large skillet or sauce pan to medium high heat. Add oil and bring to temperature. Add ground beef and cook until caramelized. Add onions, bell pepper and garlic. Cook until well incorporated. Add tomatoes and stir well. Cook additional 5 – 7 minutes. Season with dried spices, red pepper and Worcestershire sauce. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

Boil spaghetti in separate pot, drain and place in casserole. Add sauce and stir until well blended. You may not need all the sauce, so add a ladle at a time. Top with shredded cheese and parsley. Bake at 350 degrees F for 5 - 7 minutes, or until cheese is cooked thoroughly and sides of pasta form a crust.



Loading...