15 August 2012

Maggie's Vegan Spaghettios

I'll be honest. I never really ate Spaghettios much as a kid. I remember having a love-affair with Chicken and Rice soup, or maybe it was Chicken and Stars, but Spaghettios (meatballed or not) just weren't my thing. I think I ate them occasionally, but they weren't a staple.

However, when I started cooking for Shana as well as me, I had to contend with an additional set of favored-flavors, food idiosyncrasies, and some definite food neophobia. As I started looking around for foods that would be amenable to both of us, I decided one day that spaghettios would do the trick. I don't know why I decided that, but the idea stuck and started looking for recipes. Most of what I found was really really simple, along the lines of "boil pasta, add condensed soup/water, and stir." Easy? Absolutely! Delicious? Meh. Clearly I needed to do my own thing.


The other element that I wanted to add to my vegan spaghettios was some kind of "meatball." I've never been a fan of hot dogs in things, so those were out, and I tried a couple of other things that didn't work very well (I should have figured that breakfast sausages wouldn't work...). However, a couple of years ago I saw a new variety of frozen vegan meatballs in the freezer case at Wegmans, took them home to try, and was a convert. Nate's vegan meatballs are amazing! We use the "Zesty Italian" flavor, but they are all good.

Now, an aside (then for the recipe). As a general rule, I do not use a ton of faux meat products in my cooking because I do not like that they are so processed. But, I use these meatballs in this recipe, fake burger crumbles when we make tacos or sloppy joes, and faux deli meats when Shana is craving a "turkey" club sandwich. It is unusual for faux meats to appear more than once a week; 2-3 times a month is more common. HOWEVER, these products have come a loooooooooooong way since I went vegan more than a decade ago and if they help you make meatless meals that you enjoy, run with that. Alright, without more blabbering on my part, on to the recipe.

Maggie's Vegan Spaghettios
Ingredients
2+ c. ring-shaped pasta (or other small pasta shape to your liking)
2 3/4 c. Imagine brand Creamy Tomato Soup
Bullion, enough as if you were to make one c. (see Helpful Hints)
3/4 tsp. garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp. onion powder
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 c. nutritional yeast
Meatless meatballs, optional, as many as you'd like (I use 10 of the Nate's kind)

Directions
1. Boil pasta as per package directions. Drain well.
2. While pasta is cooking, heat tomato soup, bullion, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and meatballs (if using) in a pot. Bring to a simmer.

3. Just before combining, add nutritional yeast to sauce and stir well to combine.

4. Mix sauce and pasta, serve immediately.

Helpful Hints
  • Imagine brand soups are now found at many major grocery stores. For those on the East Coast, Wegmans has them in the Natural Foods section. For those in Richmond, Kroger has them in the Natural Foods section. For those in other places, Whole Foods sells them and I'm pretty sure Cub does as well (for those Minnesotans). 
    • This particular soup is also soy-free. So if you leave out the "meatballs" this becomes a soy-free meal.
  • When I say bullion, I mean the actual stuff, NOT mixed in water. If you use Better than Bullion (I use the BtB Vegetable or No Beef), you'll need a teaspoon. If you use bullion cubes, you will likely need 1/2 a cube, since most cubes are for two cups of water. 
  • This dish is definitely kid-friendly! It's totally recognizable, has no weird "chunks" that kids have to try to identify, and tastes like the "real" thing (I think, but I don't really know). 
  • This will reheat well (even after being frozen), but I suggest you add just a bit of water before you reheat it to make the sauce a bit saucier, since the pasta will continue to soak it up a bit.

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