Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Protein-packed pasta

 I'm a girl who loves her pasta. But too much of a good thing can sometimes be boring...and a bit indulgent. So to strike a balance, I sometimes use a vegetarian option of a basic tomato sauce. This pasta dish is something I whip up when I want my pasta but I want to have my veggies too. 

Start by simmering some chopped onions in a large pan with a little olive oil. Add loads of garlic and some finely chopped chilies. Then add whatever vegetables you have and/or like. This time around, I added red pepper and mushrooms. I also had some dried basil (though I'll admit fresh is always better). Add harder vegetables first and let them cook and soften before adding ones that don't take as long. Also make sure you sizzle each ingredient before adding the next. That way everything marries together and forms a more complex taste. I call this the "layering" technique of sauce-making.


Then I add the secret ingredient: Yves veggie ground round. It's a meat-textured wheat and soy protein product that works like ground beef in your sauce. It ups the meaty texture and ups your satisfaction because in 1/3 cup portion it has 10g of protein. But unlike regular meat, it only has 0.5g of fat (and no saturated fat) and just 60 calories. 

Throw in the veggie ground round with your already-sizzling mixture. Add a dash of salt and a ton of pepper (well, that's what I do) and let it cook through until hot and fully mixed together. Add some canned tomatoes or tomato sauce and simmer everything for about 10 more minutes. Serve the chunky sauce over pasta or as "sloppy joes". It's an easy meal and very easy to experiment with or change out one or two ingredients for others you may have on hand or prefer. You could even substitute the veggie ground round for any ground meat, lentils, chickpeas or marinated, mashed-up tofu.

The veggie products come in a few other varieties and can be used in other pasta dishes, tacos, nachos, sheppards pie...you name it. And it's easy to prepare because it's as fast-food as you can get. With the protein, veggies, cooked tomatoes and garlic, this dish ends up being pretty healthy while remaining easy and warming you up on a cold day. Add some grated parm and enjoy!


  1. If you didn't want to use a meat substitute you could always add some cooked lentils to the sauce instead. They pack a nice little protein punch as well, though not as much as the TVP. A 1/4 cup has 4g of fiber and just over 4g of protein.

    I made lentil lasagna roll-ups for supper tonight. :p

  2. This is something I want to try!! looks great..!