In my early days as a vegetarian, I guess you could call me a “pasta vegetarian”. Give me a packet of spaghetti, a jar of marinara sauce and a shaker of Parmesan cheese and I was a happy kid. Two months and five pounds later, I quickly realized that this was not a sustainable diet.
These days I try to balance my dinners around protein, carbohydrates, healthy fats and loads of veggies. On any particular night, dinner might be black bean tacos with avocado and salad, or curried lentils with basmati rice and sautéed greens, or a simple tofu stir-fry with ginger, garlic and whatever veggies I have on hand.
Still, there comes a time in every vegetarian’s life when no other meal will do but pasta. But pasta is no longer the carbo-loaded, out-of-a-jar meal that it used to be. These days, I kick up my pasta sauce with a little TVP to give my pasta a much-needed protein kick. TVP, or “textured vegetable protein”, is a low-fat, high-protein soy mince made from defatted soy flour. When paired with tomato sauce, it does a nice job of mimicking an Italian Bolognese sauce, typically made with beef.
Spaghetti and vegan Bolognese (affectionately called “Spag Bol” in my household) is one of my go-to meals for quick dinners. Prep time is less than 5 minutes and cooking time is around 20. Packed with high-quality protein and carbs, it’s the perfect dinner to fuel your morning workout. You could kick up the “health factor” by using whole wheat pasta and cutting down on the olive oil, but I find that the olive oil gives it a fabulous richness and if the Mediterranean diet is anything to go by, olive oil is a health food in itself. I typically serve this with broccoli, which I lightly blanch by adding it to the pot of simmering pasta water right before the pasta is cooked. Enjoy!
Spaghetti with Vegan Bolognese Sauce
• 50g TVP (i.e. “textured vegetable protein” or “soya mince”)
• 4 Tbsp olive oil
• 1 medium onion, diced
• 2 cloves garlic, chopped
• 3 bay leaves
• 1 400g can chopped tomatoes
• 3 Tbsp tomato paste
• 1 tsp oregano
• pinch each of crushed red pepper and mixed spice
• pinch of sugar
• salt and pepper to taste
• Spaghetti, enough to serve three
1. Put the TVP in a bowl and put in enough water to make it wet. You want enough water so that the TVP soaks it all up with no excess. (If you do wind up with extra water, don’t panic, just drain it in a sieve.)
2. Heat the olive oil on medium heat and add the onion, garlic and bay leaves. Cook until the onion is soft, making sure they don’t brown.
3. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for about 15 minutes, covered on a low heat.
4. In the meantime, make some spaghetti (using 10g of salt per liter of water) and grate some Parmesan cheese (if desired, though this will no longer be vegan!).
5. Serve sauce over pasta with a side of broccoli.
You can find more of Monica’s vegetarian recipes at SmarterFitter.com.
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