Saturday, February 16, 2008

Funeral Hotdish

Growing up, I knew this only as funeral hotdish. At the lunch after a funeral at home, some version of macaroni with tomato sauce, sweet corn, and ground beef was a guarantee. This is the same thing, with veggie burger crumbles standing in for the meat. When I'm in more of a whole foods mood, I substitute black beans for the veggie crumbles, but my traditional side favors the crumbles. As my vegan cooking has evolved, I rely less and less on processed products from Boca and the rest, but this is comfort food. Sometimes comfort trumps philosophy.
Mike's Vegan Funeral Hotdish
1/2 lb. dry pasta (elbows are more authentic, but I used Dakota Growers rotini here)
1 tbsp. canola oil
2 8 oz. cans salt-free tomato sauce
1 cup frozen sweet corn
1 1/2 cups veggie grounds or crumbles or whatever you call them (or those black beans)
1 yellow or white onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp. nutritional yeast*
cayenne pepper hot sauce**
1. Bring a couple of pints of water to boil in a soup pot. Add pasta and cook until tender.
2. In a nonstick frying pan, saute onions on medium heat for a few minutes, until tender and translucent. Add garlic, and fry for a minute more.
3. Add tomato sauce, veggie crumbles/black beans, and sweet corn to pan. Cover and simmer on low heat for about five minutes, until everything is nice and hot.
4. When pasta is done, drain and return to pot. Add the tomato-corn-crumbles mix, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Is this easy or what?
5. If serving right away, go at it. Otherwise, keep it in an oven on low heat, covered with aluminum foil. It just feels more like a hotdish if it comes out of the oven in a casserole pan, but that's not entirely necessary.
* yeah, sometimes I throw in some nutritional yeast for that nummy, cheesy flavor. But since nutritional yeast never came near a church basement when I was growing up, I kind of feel like I'm cheating by using it. If you're less troubled by these things, by all means enjoy the damn nutritional yeast.
** Here's another non-traditional move. This could go for almost any of my recipes, but a healthy shot of red pepper hot sauce does good things for a funeral hotdish.

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