Family meals should be special. I don’t know how I arrived at that notion after growing up on salsbury steak TV dinners and Macaroni and Cheese. Not to say that we didn’t have more than a few made-from-scratch homemade dinners; it’s just that I don’t recall the sense of a committed family dinner time. Dinners were more of a necessary part of the day rather than something special. Maybe that’s why I’ve come full circle. As an adult I like the idea of creating fun, family night dinners. Sometimes I’ll go all out and spend a lot of time on a special recipe. Or sometimes my idea of “special” may mean getting the meal put together quickly and enjoying more time with the people I love. That’s definitely today’s recipe – simple and easy, but still delicious: Friday Night Garlic Pasta.
There are so many things in life I love, it starts to get kind of silly. You can’t love everything, right?
Well, now that I think about it, there’s more than a few things I don’t love so much either. Who ever came up with the idea of Mondays? And pantyhose. Not to mention wrinkles, cellulite, and a whole host of other things.
But now I’m starting to harsh my own mellow. Let me start again. There are lots of things I love. Like moving around in the kitchen, using my own capable hands to grab a bowl, stir a sauce, measure ingredients. After a day spent in front of a computer living in a virtual world, the kitchen is a wonderful reminder of the physical order of things. We can move, we can create, we can see the results of our labor…including the incredible aroma that wafts throughout the house and the look of happiness when our loved ones finally take those first bites.
Sometimes I get lost in the kitchen (in a good kind of way). It’s not as if I can’t find my way out; I’m just enjoying the time and happy to get into an elaborate recipe that keeps me on my feet and moving around for awhile. But on a Friday night…I’m honestly looking for something on the quick side.
That’s where this recipe comes in handy. Cook up some pasta, throw in the garlic, top it with some red sauce and vegan cheese and there you go!
It’s always nice adding something else to the list of the things I love. Maybe I should start a Colbert-style board. Easy Vegan Garlic Pasta? Consider yourself on notice (but in a good way).
- 1 box Penne Pasta
- 4 - 5 cloves garlic
- 1 -2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cups Pasta Sauce (look at the ingredients and make sure it's vegan)
- 1 package Gardein Chick'n Strips (or a favorite faux meat)
- Your favorite veggies like sliced mushrooms or red peppers (optional, based on what you've got handy)
- 3 leaves of fresh basil, chopped (or 1 teaspoon dried)
- 1 package vegan mozzarella cheese, shredded
- Heat your oven to 350F.
- Follow the directions on the box to cook the penne pasta. Once done, rinse in cool water, drain any excess water (I even used a paper towel to blot it dry), and spread across the bottom of a 9 X 13 baking pan.
- I had a fresh batch of Garlic Confit handy (which I highly recommend making a part of Your Regularly Stocked Vegan Kitchen), so I grabbed 4 to 5 cloves from that, mashed them a bit and stirred them into the pasta in the baking dish. However, if you don't have any garlic confit handy, you can peel and slice your garlic cloves and cook them with the olive oil over medium heat for about 4 - 5 minutes. Let that sit to cool for a bit (and to let the garlic flavor seep into the olive oil). Then pour that over the pasta and stir it in a bit.
- Pour the pasta sauce evenly over the pasta.
- Either cut or tear the Gardein Chickn'Strips into smaller pieces and spread this evenly on top of the pasta.
- Top with any of your favorite veggies, such as chopped mushrooms, red peppers, or black olives.
- Sprinkle the chopped fresh basil on top, followed by the shredded vegan mozzarella.
- Place the baking dish in your prepared oven and bake for 25 - 30 minutes. If your vegan mozz hasn't melted as much as you like, turn the heat up to 375 for the last 5 minutes or so and that should do the trick.
- Once the pasta is done, remove from the oven and set aside to cool a bit. Serve warm.
There you go! A nice, easy recipe for your next Friday night family dinner. How about tonight?