Wednesday, September 21, 2005

dinner tonight

mmmm....we had a quick and generic baked vegan pasta.

We were pretty tired, so this was a quick and easy dish to make, it just had several steps involved. As always, try to get organic or the best quality ingredients you can. Remember you only get out of your body what you put into it.

To make this recipe, there are a few key ingredients involved:
  • pasta of some sort (I used the short fusili pieces)
  • sauce -- you can cheat and get a good jarred sauce or make your own quick sauce (see below)
  • sausages -- if you eat meat you could get the meaty ones, but Boca makes a great soy Italian sausage. Make sure they are cooked before incorporating into the recipe.
  • cheese -- I shredded soy cheese, and am drawing a blank right now about recommendations for good brands of soy cheese. Trader Joe's makes a great soy cheese, and there are different varieties, like pepper jack and mozzarella flavor. This brand also melts well and tastes good. I can eat it plain.
Here's what you do:

Preheat oven to 350. Get a casserole dish, and lightly oil the pan with olive oil. In the casserole dish, combine chopped sausage pieces, two handfuls of shredded cheese, the bag of cooked pasta, and three cups of sauce. Combine, and spread one more cup of sauce on top and sprinkle another handful of cheese. Bake for 1/2 hour, or until cheese on top is melted.

Make your own quick generic sauce:

Chop an medium onion, and saute in 2 tbsb of olive oil over medium heat until soft and translucent. Add 5 or more chopped, pressed or smashed garlic cloves and cook for a few more minutes. If you have mushrooms, carrots or any other kind of produce floating around you can chop and saute as well. When starting to brown, add a can of plain tomato sauce, a can of chopped tomatoes, and a can of tomato paste. Add seasoning--oregano, basil, rosemary, salt and pepper, a little splash of balsamic vinegar, and a handful of raisins. Stir on medium heat until bubbling, then cover and turn to low. Let that cook while you're cooking the sausage, or cooking the pasta.

The raisins are really good in tomato sauce. Trust me, it's great. They plump up if you cook them for a while (like if you get busy and it's like an hour) but don't be scared of them, pretend they're olives and just eat because they really add to the sauce. Tomato sauce is great because as long as it's on low, you can cook it for a while and the flavor just gets better and intensifies. Make sure to refrigerate unused portions.

I didn't use ricotta cheese in this recipe, but really like it and like using it in a baked pasta dish. I haven't ever tried any kind of soy or non-dairy ricotta, but I imagine it's not as good as the real thing. I also like fresh mozzarella, the kind in the liquid. I don't eat dairy because I'm lactose intolerant, and bad things happen when I have dairy. But I like it and every now and then have a little. It's hard to not eat it sometimes, I can't always tell when a cake or scone has been made with butter milk, or large quantities of other dairy products. Milk chocolate is another hard one to avoid. I really try to read chocolate labels, and I really enjoy one of those deep dark over 60% cacao chocolate bars.

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