Friday, March 4, 2011

two days to market

So, with impeccable timing, I caught Black Death just a day or two into my first full week's menu in our new home.  I would berate myself, but it wasn't really my intention to get laid up and be useless for three days or so.  As a result of being too sick to stay upright and cook, and then spending the time I was upright to complete our move, we reverted to our take-out ways and last week's menu became this week's menu. 

Since I did get to make a thing or two before becoming incapacitated and/or busy, however, that means that last night I made the last thing I had plans or ingredients to make.  I had intended to figure out what we would eat tonight on my way home from work, but I forgot until I stepped off the train.  As a result, I just headed for Superfresh since I needed kitty litter anyway and thought while I walked.  The thing I do enjoy about not having a plan is that it not only enables me to be creative, it forces me.

Although I have proven since moving into our new home that I can, in fact, go wrong with pasta, I still know it's one of the fastest routes to Mister's heart.  It's also normally super easy and relatively fast to make, which I appreciate since I have so little time to be productive when I get home from work.

The first pasta dish I made here had too much sauce; the second had too little, but it appears tonight's dinner was just right.  Mister loved it and I was pretty happy with how my little tweaks came out.

 Rotini with "Meat" Sauce
serves 4-6

16 oz rotini (or other short pasta)
26 oz jar of prepared marinara (I used Tuttorosso brand)
4 cloves garlic, pressed
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp dried marjoram
1/2 tsp dried organic basil
1/2 tsp salt, or more to taste
medium tomato, cored, seeded, and diced
1 vegan Italian "sausage" (I used Tofurky), diced

Cook pasta according to package directions.
While waiting for water to boil, heat the oil in a medium pan over medium-low heat.  Add garlic, lower heat, and allow to saute slowly for about 5 minutes, more if you can.  Stir occasionally and watch closely to ensure the garlic does not burn.  
After 5 minutes, sprinkle on marjoram, basil, and salt, then add diced tomatoes.  Stir to combine and raise heat to medium.  After a minute or two, when the tomatoes have begun to break down, stir in the sausage.  Saute, stirring occasionally, for about 3-5 minutes.  Stir in prepared marinara and heat through.  Adjust seasonings as necessary.
Once pasta is finished cooking, drain and return to pot or a large bowl.  Carefully pour in the "meat" sauce and stir to coat.  

We really enjoyed this dish.  I hope I remember to make it more frequently because it was very easy to make, yet extremely fulfilling in the function of making it up as I went.  Initially, I was going to stir in some frozen spinach for a little color contrast and nutritional punch, but when I saw that one lonely Tofurky sausage in the fridge, abandoned after I cut up and cooked his siblings for last night's dinner, I couldn't resist the flavor I knew it would bring to the dish.  It was just right - I can't say that I would have added a second link even if I had it.

The sauce was astonishingly flavorful for being some random brand hanging out on the shelves of Superfresh.  I'll be completely honest and say that there were two factors which influenced me to buy the Tuttorosso out of probably a dozen brand options:  First, and most importantly, it was on sale and therefore, the least expensive option (even lower than store brand!).  Second, it was labeled "Natural," and upon inspecting the ingredients, I discovered it was not lying - no weird, unnecessary ingredients to encumber the taste of the sauce, just tomatoes, oil, garlic, and some herbs and spices.

I do think the sauteed garlic and herbs I added helped enhance the flavor of the store-bought sauce, but it would probably be good with minimal tweaking.  The rotini was ideal for capturing as much of the sauce as possible, which I enjoyed, and the amount of sauce this recipe makes is perfectly proportionate to the amount of pasta used, which Mister enjoyed.  I served with mixed olives and vegan parmesan and we happily housed two bowls each.


  1. The family and I aren't vegan or vegetarian, but I do try to have about half our meals each week be meat free. My favorite vegetarian meat sauce relies on lentils ... I haven't tried using tofurkey sausage in it tho and might have to give it a try.

  2. Welcome, Mama Kelly! It's great that you don't feel the need to eat meat every single night and I'm excited that you will give Tofurkey a chance - you won't be sorry!

    If you end up following this recipe, I'd love to know how it comes out for you, but either way, I hope you and your family enjoy the Tofurkey!