Sometimes our vegan daughter attends “big family” gatherings, and sometimes she doesn’t. If I know she’s attending or if I’m not certain she won’t, I make a vegan dish to take (the gatherings are pitch-ins).
I always label the vegan dish so non-vegans won’t eat it by mistake and make a fuss when they find out it’s vegan, but guess what? They eat it anyway and go out of their ways to say how good it is!
The dish I made this time is what you might call “naturally vegan,” meaning that it comes from a “regular” cookbook and simply doesn’t include any meat, eggs, or dairy among the ingredients. One exception: It does specify a cup of cheese to be melted over the top.
The recipe comes from COUNTRY CASSEROLES.
PASTA & WHITE BEAN CASSEROLE
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 2 cloves garlic, minched
- 2 cans (about 15 ounces each) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
- 3 cups cooked small shell pasta
- 1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Italian cheese blend
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
- Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly coat 2-quart casserole with nonstick cooking spray.
- Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic; cook and stir 4 minutes or until onion is tender.
- Add beans, pasta, tomato sauce, seasoning, salt and pepper; mix well.
- Transfer to prepared casserole; sprinkle with cheese and parsley. Bake 20 minutes or until cheese is melted.
NATURALLY, I didn’t make it quite this way. I found I was out of cannellini beans, so I used Great Northern. I didn’t have small shell pasta, so I used vegetable rotini, which was prettier, anyway. I don’t have “Italian seasoning,” so I mixed oregano, basil, and parsley and used that. I had to make it a day ahead of time, so I got as far as transferring it to the casserole dish, covered it and refrigerated it, and microwaved it before we left the next day.
And, of course, I made vegan “cheese” from Jo Stepaniak’s THE ULTIMATE UNCHEESE COOKBOOK.
- 2 cups water or plain soymilk
- 1/2 cup nutritional yeast flakes
- 1/3 cup quick-cooking rolled oats
- 1/4 cup sesame tahini
- 1/4 cup kuzu, arrowroot, or cornstarch
- 3 to 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
Lightly oil a 3-cup rectangular mold, loaf pan, or other small rectangular or oval container. Alternatively, for round slices, oil a small, straight-sided, cylindrical container.
Combine all ingredients in a blender and process several minutes until completely smooth. Pour into a saucepan and cook and stir over medium heat until very thick and smooth. Pack into the prepared container. Cool uncovered in the refrigerator. When completely cool, cover and chill overnight. To serve, turn out of the mold and carefully slice with an oiled or water-moistened knife (the cheez will be very soft and a bit sticky). Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator. Will keep about 5 to 7 days.
A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: A character brings something specifically for one person, but people who aren’t supposed to like that thing all want and like it.