Comfort and Pasta

My workplace had a Halloween potluck earlier this week and were planning a chili competition.  I thought I’d bring something different and decided to make a corn chowder.  An added inducement to the corn chowder was that I could make it with ingredients I had on hand and any time I can avoid the grocery store I will choose to do so.

I used the recipe in The Part Time Vegan as a template, adding a few tweaks of my own, and ended up with a chowder that wasn’t bad.  Wasn’t bad isn’t usually what I go for so my corn chowder recipe needs work before it can be posted.  Having a recipe not turn out as I’d hoped is always a little bit of a downer so I decided to drown my sorrows in comfort food.  Enter pasta and, fortunately, the McDougall diet allows me to eat as much as I like.

With both comfort and temperance in mind, I decided to try a new pasta.  I got sucked into one of those sample stands at Costco which introduced me to Explore Cuisine’s Chickpea Pasta (which is not on the website but other tasty products are).  The woman at the sample stand assured me the pasta kept a chewy texture despite re-heating and I was persuaded to buy a box.


I have tried other gluten-free pastas.  I like quinoa pasta but have found brown rice pasta ends up too mushy.  I wasn’t sure what to expect when I boiled water and measured out the pasta.  I was concerned with taste as the pasta smelled well, beany, as it cooked but all my worries were for naught.  The pasta has a slight flavor that didn’t remind me too much of chickpeas and kept a perfect al dente texture.  My family liked it as well.  Though I don’t know this will replace quinoa pasta for me, I’m definitely interested in trying more of Enjoy Cuisine’s products.

Wondering what to eat with the pasta?  Here’s my Mom’s recipe for chunky vegan pasta sauce.  Neither she nor my step-father are vegan and they both choose this one over sauces laden with meat.  Let me know if you give it a try.

Sue’s Spaghetti Sauce

1 cup minced onion

1 TBSP minced garlic

1 jar Classico Traditional Favorites Pasta Sauce, Tomato & Basil

1 jar Prego Light Smart Traditional Italian Sauce

2 TBSP Hunts Tomato Paste

1 14oz can Muir Glen Organic Tomatoes, Diced, No Salt Added

1 15 oz can Tomato Sauce

1 15 oz can Simple Truth Organic Tri-Bean Blend beans, drained and rinsed

1 15 oz can Organic Canned Black Beans, drained and rinsed

6 oz Boca Veggie Ground Crumbles

Cook onions and garlic until onions begin to sweat.  All all other ingredients except beans and crumbles.  Cook 1 hour.  Add beans and crumbles and cook 15 minutes.  Pour over cooked spaghetti.

Prep and Cook time = 75 min

Serving Size = 2 cups

Serves = 8

My Kingdom for a Fish-less Fish Stick

I so wanted to attend the Natural Foods Expo West in California this year!  It wasn’t possible but I’ve enjoyed attending vicariously through pictures on twitter and blogs I follow.  I have experienced a little jealousy:  Another Hungry Vegan shared a photo of a Gardein brand fish-less fish fillet and I mourned.

I don’t miss a great deal from my pre-vegan life.  If I miss anything, it’s usually junk food which I don’t need to be eating anyway.  Things like hot dogs or fish sticks.  I grew up eating fish sticks.  Both my parents worked so I was responsible for making sure my brother and I got fed.  I cooked easy food: food like fish sticks.  Not the healthiest food choice but there’s no denying they’re tasty and I miss them.  Then I saw that photo on the blog and was so excited Gardein made a vegan option.  Now, how to find it?

I didn’t have to look too hard.  I had to return some light bulbs to Super Target and, on a whim, I checked the freezer section.  What to my wondering eye should appear?  A bag of Gardein brand fish-less fish fillets!  I performed a happy dance in the aisle.  Now, I could only hope they would live up to my expectations.

I have tried some awful meat substitutes but Gardein has never steered me wrong.  I could write odes to their various products but I promise I won’t: I did list my favorites here if anyone is interested in trying the brand.  I have tried a vegan fish substitute I won’t ever try again so I will admit some hesitation before purchasing Gardein’s but my trust for the brand made the hesitation momentary.  Home with me they came.

Tonight, I took the opportunity of trying them.  I’ve been doing laundry and ironing today; all the excuse I needed for an easy reminiscent-of-my-childhood meal.  I added some onion rings to my baking sheet to round out a meal I anticipated being wonderful.  I made some tartar sauce-Just Mayo and pickle relish mixed together in equal amounts-to serve on the side and, when the twenty cooking minutes were up, tucked in.

Gardein pulled through for me again.  Their fish-less fillets are better than the ones I remember from my childhood.  The golden coating bakes crispy after 20 minutes in the oven (flipping halfway through) and the texture is perfect.  I wouldn’t recommend them for daily consumption for health as well as fiscal reasons-only six in the package 😦 – but, if you’ve been missing fish sticks, find a bag of these.  You won’t be sorry.

Another Fabulous Vegan Substitute
Another Fabulous Vegan Substitute