I’m not a vegan or a vegetarian. I love my meat and eggs and cheese. But I am a realist and I know I can’t eat those things at every meal. So whenever I can find a vegan meal that doesn’t taste like styrofoam packing material (and don’t ask me how I know this), then I like to give it a go. So you could say that in terms of eating, I am a “flexitarian.” Meat, no meat, as long as it tastes good and is healthy.
A couple of vegan relatives of mine came to town last week and offered to cook dinner. Given that I’m a culinary Indiana Jones, I did not pass up the chance to explore the wonders of authentic vegan cooking cooked by an authentic vegan.
I halfway expected to have some sort of sprouted whole grain type of thing with blue algae and sea vegetables. Instead, my relative prepared spaghetti bolognese — that is, old fashioned ‘sketty and meat sauce. However, instead of the meat, she used textured vegetable protein, otherwise known as “TVP”.
Now before you go “ewwwww” or “yuck” and say “that must taste like styrofoam packing material,” let me assure you that this time it did not. I’ve tried TVP before and I must say that that perception has been accurate, but this time, not so. It tasted just like meat… actually better than real meat.
So when my chef-relative wasn’t looking, I went digging through the trash bin to see what brand of TVP she used. I found the wrapper for Yves Ground Round. No fat, no cholesterol, low calorie, high protein. Wow! (Okay, it’s a little high in sodium but one can compensate by using low sodium tomato sauce.)
So a couple days later, I went to Whole Foods Market and bought a 12 ounce pack. When I got home, I saute some chopped onion and cremini mushrooms in olive oil and garlic, added a “galugg” of red wine, a can of chopped tomatoes, a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste, some of my favorite Italian seasoning and the package of “meat”. I served it over high fiber pasta (Smart Taste by Ronzoni if you want to know).
Lest you think I am going to turn vegan, I’m not, but I am going to be a little more flexible and open to trying products like Yves.
Now, if I could only find a good non-meat alternative to Chorizo that doesn’t taste like the stuffing out of my sofa. (Don’t ask about that either).
Text: Lori G. (c) 2010
Image courtesy of Morguefile.com