Updated: Jul 8, 2019
Tomato. Pasta. Aromatics.
A trifecta of Italian cuisine.
Makes 4 servings.
1 lb penne pasta
1 package Beyond Meat, crumbled
1 can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 can of whole tomatoes, crushed with hands in separate bowl
1/2 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tbsp dried oregano
Bunch of fresh basil
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
Optional: 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
In a medium pot, cook pasta according to package directions.
On a heated pan, sauté onions for a few minutes. Then add garlic and oregano.
Add crumbled Beyond Meat patties and cook until nicely browned.
Add beans, tomatoes, nutritional yeast if using, salt and pepper to taste, then mix.
Add cooked pasta and fold together to incorporate all ingredients.
Plate, top with fresh basil and hot sauce if preferred, and enjoy!
Step by Step
Once you've filled a pot with water and placed it on the stovetop for the pasta, prep your beans by draining and rinsing them with water. Apparently rinsing them should help minimize the potential gas that beans can cause. 💨
I love cannellini beans because they're creamy, mild and non-offensive.
Before going plant-based (and, in fact, for many years afterwards) I wasn't a fan of them. But since learning of their amazing nutritional value 🧐, I'm into it!
According to Dr. Michael Greger (and many doctors), eating beans helps to prevent cancer, stroke and many other chronic illnesses. Also, some of the longest living humans on the planet - living in the "Blue Zones" - consume beans regularly. And a lot of them. Blue Zoners do eat meat, mostly on special occasions, but they predominantly eat plant-based diets.
Next, place whole canned tomatoes inside a bowl and carefully (to avoid making a mess) crush them in your hands.
I like some texture to my sauce so I don't completely squeeze the tomatoes into a puree; do what you prefer. San Marzanos are my favorite but any whole tomatoes will do.
To simplify, just use a can of tomato sauce or diced tomatoes.
I take this extra step ever since watching an Italian chef passionately say she only recommends using whole tomatoes.
Next, organize the other ingredients. This process is called "mise en place", which means putting everything in its place. You can use a baking sheet and spread everything out; or use several small bowls, one for each ingredient; or just use a chopping board (fewer dishes 👍).
Turn on the stovetop to heat your sauté pan, then dice the onions...
Add onions to the heated pan with oil or a little water. While they're sautéing, chop the garlic...
Add the garlic and dried oregano to your pan...
Now it's time to turn this dish into a ragu.
I call this dish "vegan" because it doesn't use any animals or animal by-products. But I don't it "plant-based" since the plant-based community generally does not use processed products and instead sticks to whole foods. In terms of health, even processed products are said to be better for us (and the planet) than meat products, but these are high in sodium. Processed foods are commonly the culprits of our excessively high sodium levels. So it's best to limit them.
These are great for burgers, especially when cooked on a grill, but they're also great for things like this vegan penne, nachos, chili, or as a substitute for any recipe calling for ground meat.
Where To Buy Beyond Meat
You can find these in the meat section of grocery stores thanks to the company's CEO, Ethan Brown, who fought to make sure these appeared next to real meat. He wanted to easily present meat eaters with another option. 🤗 His mission is to turn "peas and lentils into protein that tastes - and feels - exactly like beef and chicken."
(My favorite's their spicy Italian Beyond Sausage. I'm hooked. 🤦🏻♀️)
Remove from their packaging, crumble, and add to your pan.
Sauté until almost cooked...
Mix while still cooking down the Beyond Meat...
Ideally, almost every dish includes salt, fat, acid and heat according to the brilliant Samin Nosrat (and many other chefs). Though Samin cooks plenty of non-veg dishes, this principle also applies to plant-based and vegan cooking in order to pull together a highly enjoyable, well-rounded complexity of flavors.
In go our tomatoes - the acid to this dish...
I add nutritional yeast ("nooch", as the kool kids call it) for both flavor and function. It offers a cheese-like taste when mixed with the right ingredients. And it contains a host of vitamins like B12, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and B6. It has minerals like calcium and potassium, and even some protein! 💪
I guess this is what it means to "let food be thy medicine". 🤔
Two tricks to using nooch effectively:
1. Avoid excessive amounts. Otherwise, it tastes too nutty and loses the cheese factor. So start with a tablespoon or two, then taste, and add accordingly.
2. For nooch to add the right umami to a dish, it needs to be complemented with fat and salt. In this recipe's case, much of the fat and salt is coming from the Beyond Meat. (And I've added a bit more salt to taste.)
That looks like a lot of nooch, but it's exactly two tablespoons.
Your sauce is almost done. Add salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste.
When your sauce is ready, add cooked penne directly from the pot with a slotted spoon instead of draining it first. Saves time and dishes...
Mix and fold together...
Finally, plate, add basil and spice, and dig in. Comfort food at its best. 🥰
Like a great lasagna, this dish is even better after marinating in the fridge all night. Leftovers at their best. 🤤