Since we introduced our new vegetarian meal plans a few months ago, we are always looking for ways to add vegetarian recipes to our meal plans that are quick, easy and healthy. To start the week we just tested our Cheesy Mac Skillet recipe, that we have traditionally used with ground beef or turkey in our traditional menu plans. To give it a meatless makeover, we used one of the many meat substitutes on the market. The product we tested this week was called “Beef -Free Crumble” by Beyond Meat, available at your local Whole Foods Market. Thank you to our friends at Whole Foods Bedford for introducing us to this product! Its soy and gluten free and is only 90 calories per 1/2 cup serving! Consistent with all our weeknight meals, we only use simple and healthy ingredients:
The taste? I never told anyone in my family I was not using meat (this recipe is a weeknight regular in our house so they knew what to expect when I told them what we were having) and all the plates were scraped clean with the exception of maybe a few stray veggies left by 14 year old (a topic for another future blog post). Yes, I suppose it could have been they were so absorbed in the hockey playoffs live on tv (Sidney Crosby was on the ice after all) but not a single member of my family noticed the difference or even muttered a “this tastes different” comment. In fact, as I was cooking it my kids asked me if I was making pizza for dinner as it has many of those same ingredients and flavors, making this recipe a real kid friendly dinner.
The whole recipe takes about 15 to 20 minutes to put together in the skillet and you can easily substitute whatever veggies you have on hand. We used frozen peas but it could be any chopped up veggies (fresh or frozen) you would like to use. We finished it off by adding in some fresh baby spinach but you could just as easily throw in arugula, kale, collard greens, etc. Its a very versatile recipe and now with its meatless makeover, it has even more options! Here’s the recipe for you to enjoy:
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves minced garlic
Two 11 oz packages of meat-free crumbles (ie veggie crumbles). We used “Beyond Meat Beef-Free Crumbles”
24 oz pasta sauce
1 cup of frozen or fresh veggies (we used frozen peas)
2 tsp garlic powder
2 cups elbow pasta (we used whole grain organic pasta)
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (low fat)
2 to 3 large handfuls of baby spinach
Note: we used two 11 oz packages of the beef free crumbles in the recipe for my family of five, This resulted in 5 hearty servings with plenty leftovers for the next day. Here’s a photo of the product below:
Heat oil in large skillet on med. Add onion & garlic. Cook for 5 mins until soft. Add beef-free crumbles (or if not going vegetarian can use ground beef or turkey, about 1.5 lbs), pasta sauce, veggies, garlic powder, pasta, and water to the skillet. Reduce heat to low, cover & cook for 10 mins until pasta is soft. Remove from heat & stir in cheese and spinach. Season with salt & pepper. We served with a simple side salad and some fresh fruit!