Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A vegan but not so vegan dinner....

I have professed my unwavering allegiance to cheese over and over again on this blog.  My love for the stinky, creamy heavenly food is pure and true! 

My personal heaven will have a Wall-O-Cheese Menu for me to select from!
That being said sitting down to a dinner of pasta and Alfredo sauce or mac n' cheese every week is not so good for my arteries or waist line.  My brain knows this but my heart does not.. it still cries out for cheesey ooey goodness on a daily basis! 

Last night I think I figured out a way to trick my cheese obsessed heart into thinking it was having a gluttonous meal of penne Alfredo all the while I was actually consuming a healthified version made with silken tofu and almond milk.

Now I what you are thinking... "Beth there is NO WAY tofu and almond milk could EVER imitate cheese sauce!"  I thought the same thing but it was a glorious meal that even my roomie loved! (she usually rolls her eyes at my tofu/fake milk meals, but humors me all the same).  

But wait you ask....Beth the title of the post is vegan not so vegan what's the catch?

The catch for this insanely yummy vegan Alfredo pasta & veggie dinner was that I added homemade chicken meatballs.  GASP for dramatic effect!!

That's right people, I took a completely vegan meal and added meat to it.  Why you ask?  Because I had a pound of ground chicken on hand that needed to be used.   So feel free when you make your version (which I know you will) to make it all vegan or be a rebel like me and throw some poultry into the mix!

I created this recipe after googling and combining several recipes for a traditional veggie Alfredo sauce with a vegan Alfredo sauce.  To make you will need:

  • 1lb pasta of your choice
Alfredo Sauce:
  • 2 cups un-sweetended Almond or non-dairy milk (I love the almond, it is much creamier than regular soy or rice milk)
  • 1 package silken tofu
  • 1/2 cup of nutritional yeast (optional but adds a cheesy flavor to the sauce)
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 3 Tbsp Cornstarch
Chicken Meatballs & Veggies:
  • 1/2 yellow onion diced
  • 1/2 green pepper diced
  • 1/2 red pepper diced
  • minced garlic (1-2 gloves)
  • 1 head of broccoli cut into florets
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes (or vessels of hot lava! beware their insides heat up during the cooking process!)
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth (or white wine)
  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • 1/2 cup of breadcrumbs (I used 1/4 BC and 1/4 Oatbran)
  • 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese
  • handful of dried parsley/oregano
  • 1 egg
In a pan, heat some olive oil and add your onion, pepper and garlic.  While they are heating put on your pasta water and combine in a bowl your chicken, breadcrumbs, cheese, spices and egg. Combine until mixture sticks together but isn't too wet.  Form into small meatballs and add to your pan along with the chicken broth.   Throw in your broccoli and cover the pan (set on low so the veggies don't burn).

Happy little meatballs
All purpose spice that I am now in love with thanks to Mr & Mrs Hall!

While your water is heating and meatballs cooking get out your blender or trusty immersion blender.  Mix together all the ingredients for the Alfredo sauce and blend until fully combined.

Add this mixture to your meatballs and veggies.  You want the sauce to heat up and thicken but not boil.  Heat until your meatballs are cooked through and sauce is thickened. 

Cook your pasta until it is almost the way you like it. Drain and add directly to the sauce mixture and combine.  You can add your tomatoes in at this point as well.

Heat for another 3-5 minutes to make sure all the flavors have melded together and you are ready to eat!
So much color!

Hello imposter cheese sauce!  So nice to meet you!!!
So there you have it.. my answer to the need for cheese but without the guilt!

What is your favorite recipe or dish that you have revamped to make it better?  Or do you want to Challenge me to see if I can revamp your favorite into a healthier version?

Let me know!!