Fast forward 10 years and the idea of going veggie crossed my mind a lot. Any time I was looking to lose weight, change my diet, eat healthier it was the first thing I thought of. When I decided to try a vegan diet this last time, it really only stuck because I put the time and effort in. It isn't as easy as just announcing to the world that you are now vegan and starting up a blog (we just make it seem that way). In reality, I did a lot of research, bought cook books, talked to other vegans, followed many, many vegans on twitter and found a way to get back on track when I screwed up along the way.
I am not going to lie and say it was easy, but because I wanted to do it, it didn't seem like as big of a commitment as it does now looking back. One thing that helped though was attempting veggie diets and failing miserably in the past. Not only did I end up with a few recipes I knew I could fall back on now (made it seem like not everything I was eating was foreign to me) and I remembered why it didn't work before and what was the trigger to falling back into an animal based diet.
I haven't cooked any of my old veggie recipes in a long time and today I was feeling the urge for my original vegan recipe - fried spaghetti. I stole this recipe from that first veg cook book I bought.. I haven't changed it too much over the years. Sometimes I add to it, sometimes I just make the basic recipe. I love recipes like that. So simple that you know you can change it up a hundred different ways. So here is the basic recipe and I have added a few things you can do to change it up.
*Adapted from Starving Students guide to vegetarianism
Serves 2, takes about 20 minutes for the basic recipe
- Spaghetti - enough for two (about a toonie-size amount)
- 2 Tbsp olive oil (other oils are fine too)
- 1-2 Tbsp Italian seasoning
- 1/2 red onion, diced
- 2 cloves of garlic, diced
- 2-3 Tbsp of tomato paste (I don't really measure, but you can add more if it looks like not enough)
- 1/4 cup water
- salt and pepper
- 2 Tbsp parsley, chopped
Alright, first get your water going for the pasta (remember to salt the water.. much better that way). Get a large frying pan and add the oil to it over medium low heat. Once the oil is hot, add the Italian seasoning, onion and garlic and stir and cook for 2-3 minutes until the onions are translucent. By this point the water should be boiling. Add the pasta and cook al dente.
|As always, prep first. Luckily this one is easy|
|The sauce, it will look like there isn't enough, but this is a drier pasta.|
Don't expect a ton of sauce, the pasta will soak it all up
Now, add to the tomato paste and water to the pan. Stir it well until it's combined and cook for about 5 minutes. If the pasta isn't ready yet, but the sauce is you can turn the pan to low while you wait. When the pasta is cooked, drain it and throw it in the pan. Toss it really well so it is all combined. I usually used a wooden spoon and tongs or a pasta spoon. Turn the heat to medium high and cook for 5-8 minutes. If you cook it longer you will get some crunchy bits of pasta, if you cook it less, it will be softer. You decide. Lastly, top with the chopped parsley and serve.
|Ready to fry!|
|And the finished result - Dinner in under 20 minutes|
Now, there are tons of ways you can jazz this recipe up. I love it on its own, but I also love it modified. It will still be an easy and fast meal to have regardless, so I just judge on what I have available in my kitchen. Here are a few ways I have modified the recipe:
- Instead of water, add marinara or other pasta sauce
- instead of or in addition to, do roasted garlic (see below)
- make roasted zucchini and tomatoes and at to sauce
- Add mushrooms or other vegetables when you add the onions
- add red chili flakes or hot sauce
- add tofurkey sausage or veggie ground
- deglaze the pan with wine before adding the pasta
- Add bread crumbs with the pasta and fry together (about 1/4 cup max)
- Add ground sunflower or pumpkin seeds
- Add cabbage when you add the tomato paste and water
- Add vegan cheese
Any other suggestions, let me know.. really this is such a basic dish that any Italian flavour will work. Now, since I made roasted garlic when I made my version, I thought I would share a little secret... Roasted garlic is easy and a fantastic way to may garlic bread or fancy-up any dish. Seriously... any dish.
|Roasted garlic right out of the oven - totally worth the hour!|
Pre-heat the oven to 350 F. Get a head of garlic and chop off the top so the cloves are exposed. Now, place it on a sheet of tin foil and cover in olive oil (about 2 Tbsp). Next add some salt and pepper and then fold up the tin foil to seal the head of garlic.Bake in the oven for about 50-60 minutes, turning once about half way. When you turn it over the oil might seep out so either make a catch with more foil or place on a baking sheet. When it is done you can just squeeze the garlic on to a slice of toasted bread or make garlic croutons (fry bread in oil and then add the roasted garlic) or you can add it to this, or any pasta dish. Roasted garlic is amazing. it is like garlic, but a little sweeter and more mild in flavour. It really makes any dish better. It is one of those flavours that when you add it to something, people can tell its there, but can't figure out what it is. Try it next time by substituting some or all of garlic in a dish for roasted or make a quick garlic bread on your own and you will see for yourself :)