A few (like 10) years ago, my friend Tony and I “summered” in Chicago. We spent the month of July in a sublet that had a box fan (that we purchased) and no air conditioning. Coming from Vegas, we had no idea that such places even existed. The thought of cooking or even eating hot food seemed too much to deal with, so we devised a meal planning strategy. Our idea, you see, was to make cold salads (pasta, macaroni, green… but mostly pasta), and serve those as our side dishes along with a main dish which we cooked in a Crock Pot. I wasn’t vegan at the time, and I did consume more mayonnaise that summer than anyone has the right to, but the point is that we survived a hot summer strategically planning our meals around cold salads.
So, as I was planning this week’s recipe video, I thought about that summer in Chicago. And I thought about how great it was to just have cold dishes in the fridge that could be made in advance, and eaten at any time, without having to heat up the house. I also thought about how much I missed green bean casserole… Inspired by that summer, and my favorite comfort food hot dishes, I came up this recipe.
It all starts off with this base, which is essentially a fat-free, oil-free, gluten-free, version of what would happen if mayonnaise and cream of chicken soup had a baby. Don’t judge it until you’ve tried it.
- 12 ounces about 1 cup firm silken tofu (such as Mori-nu)
- 2 teaspoons Better Than Bouillon No Chicken or enough bouillon to make 2 cups of broth
- ½ lemon juiced
- ¼ teaspoon yellow mustard
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- Splash of soy or almond milk
- 1 tablespoon Bragg’s Liquid Aminos or salt to taste
- 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 1 batch of the “base”
- 2-3 ounces dry Soy Curls
- 1 pound dry spaghetti
- ½ cup diced sweet onion
- ½ cup diced red bell pepper
- Black pepper to taste
- Optional grated vegan cheddar cheese
- Optional broccoli peas, or any other green vegetable
Cook the pasta according to package directions, in salted water. While the pasta cooks, add the Soy Curls directly into the pot with the pasta. Allow to the Soy Curls to hydrate for a couple of minutes in the simmering liquid. Once they are hydrated (it won’t take very long at all), remove them from the water. Let the Curls cool for a few minutes before squeezing out any remaining liquid. Shred the Soy Curls with your hand and set aside.
When the pasta is cooked, strain it well and rinse it with cold water to stop the cooking. Add the pasta, Soy Curls, sauce base*, and the remaining ingredients to a large lid-able bowl. Toss to combine. Chill until ready to serve.
*Reserve a bit of the sauce base so that you can add it just before serving. This will make the dish a lot creamier at the time of service. Or make this dish just before serving, or hold off on adding the onions, and stir them in at the last minute.