The first "mega meal" I whipped up is a variation on a theme - baked pasta. We love the crispy, cheesy, saucy composition of a pan of lasagna, ziti or shells, and since the bulk of the time they take is inactive, it's a great option for a lazy Sunday when all you have to do is prep for classes. To simplify things (and give them a twist on flavour) I went the "southwestern" route this time, using a mix short-cut whole grain pasta, salsa, a four-cheese tomato sauce (with extra cheese for kicks) and roasted red peppers. For protein, I tossed in some soaked Textured Vegetable Protein - not only because it's cheap and I always have it on hand, but because it flavours so well and is both fat-free and high in fibre. Once everything got mixed together and poured into baking pans, I topped the works with Daiya Pepperjack Shreds - obviously the works aren't vegan (but it is vegetarian), but I had Daiya on hand and no other "grating cheese". Besides, the pepperjack Daiya has a way better flavour than dairy pepperjack to me, and flavour is where it's at!
Cheesy Southwest Pasta Bake
3 cups TVP granules
2 ¼ cups hot “un-beef” broth
1 tbsp tamari
½ tbsp canola oil
1 small onion, grated
1 ½ tbsp minced garlic
1 large red pepper, roasted and diced
3 large tomatoes, roasted and diced
3 cups cheesy tomato sauce (I used Hunt’s)
2 tbsp Cheddar cheese powder (or Parmesan, or vegan Parmesan)
2 tbsp beet greens or kale powder
½ tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
¼ tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp cumin
¼ tsp coriander
½ cup chunky, spicy salsa
1 lb short-cut whole grain pasta, cooked 2 minutes shy of al dente and drained
12 oz shredded pepper-jack cheese (I used Daiya since I had it, but use dairy if you like)
- Heat oven to 350 F and grease both a 9x13” and a 9” pan.
- Place the TVP in a bowl and add the “unbeef” broth and tamari. Let stand while preparing the vegetables.
- Heat oil in a large pan and add the onion and garlic. Cook, stirring, over medium-high heat for 5-6 minutes.
- Add the pepper, tomatoes, sauce, cheese powder, greens powder and seasonings. Cook, stirring, for 4-5 minutes.
- Puree with an immersion blender or food processor, then stir in salsa and soaked TVP.
- Combine pasta and sauce mixture, stirring well.
- Place mixture in prepared pans, cover, and bake 25 minutes.
- Remove cover, top with cheese and bake, uncovered, 15 to 20 minutes
Total Fat: 11.0 g
Cholesterol: 5.5 mg
Sodium: 1,193.2 mg
Total Carbs: 65.1 g
Dietary Fiber: 13.9 g
Protein: 25.7 g