I’m still sick, and last night my husband got home a bit late from work. I hadn’t even started dinner at 7:00 p.m., so I needed something fast and easy, but still yummy and worth-coming-home-to. What’s going to fit that bill better than macaroni and cheez? Nothing, right?
I hunted through my pasta drawer and came up with some great Italian-made penne. I put some water on to boil, washed a few grape tomatoes and sliced them up, and pulled some cheezy ingredients out of my fridge and pantry.
I boiled up the pasta; drained it, reserving a bit of liquid and tossed in the tomatoes to heat up. Then I dropped in some shredded Daiya cheddar, tore up a slice of Daiya cheddar rounds, and dumped in a mixture of about 1/4 cup spelt breadcrumbs, 1 heaping Tbsp. of nutritional yeast and about 1/2 tsp. each, dried basil, dried parsley and red chili pepper flakes, and some freshly ground black pepper. I then added 1 spoonful of sriracha sauce, the reserved pasta water and stirred it all up over low heat.
It was just enough for two good-sized bowls and along with some carbonated water to drink, it made for the perfect cozy-comfort, welcome-home meal.
You will not miss the “real” stuff, I guarantee it.
I’ve had a favourite recipe in my back pocket for quite some time now. I like it because it’s a really good one when I’m tired, or we have to go out after dinner, or I just feel like something not too heavy for lunch or supper. Pesto and tomatoes work so well together – the acid of the tomatoes with the peppery quality of the pesto are a killer combination! Of course, I’m not content to leave it at that, I like to add a few extras for a more complex flavour profile. (Can you tell I watch a whole lot of Food Network programs? Don’t you wish they would do at least one show for the vegans out there?)
So what’s the cheat? Well, when I’m lazy (which isn’t too often) I use a store-bought pesto that I get at my health-food store. It’s a vegan, kale-oregano pesto that I use a number of different ways. For this recipe I put these ingredients to work:
Presto! Pesto and Tomatoes
1. Select a carb (for this particular meal I used
leftover organic brown basmati rice, but of course any carb will do)
2. organic grape tomatoes, quartered
3. various spices
Stir-fry the tomatoes in a small amount of E.V.O.O. Sprinkle with a little red chili flakes and grind some fresh black pepper into the mix. Add the cooked rice to the pan and stir to combine until warmed through. Stir in about 2 Tbsp. of the pesto. Top with vegetable “parmesan” (I use Vegi-Parm) or nutritional yeast.
(For a creamier effect, stir in some Belsoy non-dairy cream and blend.)
Fast, simple, and oh so satisfying! A real modern-day comfort food.