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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

spaghetti-Os with venison meatballs

spaghetti-Os

i must confess to a profligacy towards certain canned fast foods. it's a reminder of my childhood, summers spent with cousins, sweaty and always ravenous for quick meals that required a can opener, microwave safe bowl and 3 minutes to nuke.

thankfully, i have outgrown this kind of eating, and with dw's encouragement, let go of such reckless indulgences. if i am to partake in such folly, it should at least be nourishing and good in taste. i was recently inspired to recreate a childhood favorite. keep in mind, this pasta bowl is thicker, creamier and meatier than it's distant canned cousin, much more dimensional with specks of kale and the heat of chili pepper.

tucking into this, it reminds me of home.

spaghettioquote

spaghetti-o's + venison meatballs
dairy-free, the sauce is vegan

i went fancy this time, next time, i might keep it simple and skip the béchamel sauce, or keep it vegan without the meat.

vegan béchamel sauce

6-8 TBL olive oil (i eyeballed it)
4 TBL white whole wheat flour
1 cup almond milk
salt/pepper to taste
dash of nutmeg
2 tsp nutritional yeast

in a sauce pan, heat up olive oil. add in the flour and stir with a wooden spoon. purists will tell you to stir constantly so that the sauce will be as white as possible.. i may have walked away for a second and it was fine. you just want to cook the paste/roux until the flour is cooked thru, about 5 minutes. add in the almond milk, slowly, and stir (or whisk) mixture until clumps are gone, then add in the nutritional yeast. season with salt + pepper and a dash of nutmeg. cook until desired thickness has been achieved.

tomato sauce

4 large ripe tomatoes rough chopped, whatever you have on hand, alternatively, a large can of fire roasted tomatoes (muir glen is our choice for off season canned tomatoes)
5-6 dinosaur kale leaves, rough chopped
1 medium onion, rough diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 carrots, diced
olive oil
salt/pepper to taste
chili pepper flakes
italian seasoning
water or stock to thin out sauce according to taste

in a large pan/skillet, heat up some olive oil. add in the onions and carrots, saute until onions are translucent and carrots start to tender. add in the cloves of garlic, stir until fragrant, be sure not to burn. next, add in kale. at this point, throw in the tomatoes, heat thru. for every layer of added ingredients, season with salt/pepper, italian seasoning. add about a cup of water/stock, simmer for 20 minutes.

very carefully, pour sauce into blender (or use an immersion blender) and blend until smooth. return to pan and keep warm

venison meatballs

1 lb of ground venison (any ground meat will do)
1 small scallion, minced
handful of bread crumbs
salt/pepper
italian season

mix everything in a bowl, rolling into balls. fry them up, or bake them. up to you.

pasta: ditalini rigati, or any other small pasta. cook to package instructions. (i used about half the package) reserve pasta water to thin out sauce accordingly.

to assemble:

combine the béchamel sauce with the tomato sauce, stir to incorporate. adjust seasoning as you'd like. add in the pepper flakes. next, add in the cooked pasta, along with a few ladles of pasta water to thin out sauce. this is entirely up to you. when pasta has been fully mixed thru, add in the meatballs. i found that the flavor deepened the next day, and the pasta soaked in any liquid. i would add about 1/8 - 1/4 cup of water to a bowl as i heated it up and it would thin out the sauce just enough.

23 comments:

  1. I love your grown-up version of a childhood favorite. I've never tried venison but those meatballs sound fantastic!

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    1. really, any ground meat would do. or you can do without and keep it completely vegan.

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  2. Unlike the comfort-canned food...something I'm Still guilty of popping into the microwave (on occasion), this looks scrumptious, and rustic, and perfectly imperfect! Also, I need to give venison another go. Thanks for the reminder. :)

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    1. there are organic canned spaghetti-Os, i tried it once. it was delightfully awful and i loved it.

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  3. Definitely makes me want to eat my spaghetti-o's! What a great version and sooo much tastier. Love that you used venison!

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    1. thank you! it's a bit time consuming (compared to just opening the can!) but well worth the effort.

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  4. A little over 6 years ago I gave up red meat and pork. There are only 3 things that I miss since then and they are horrible for you and make me seem like I have a child's taste buds: McDonalds Cheeseburgers, Slim Jims, and Chef Boyardee Beefaroni. I'm totally going to make this recipe (and love that it's more of an adult version). I might even throw in some ground turkey to make it even more like Beefaroni. I have a couple questions though: Can you use regular milk if you aren't vegan/lactose intolerant? And what does the yeast do in the béchamel sauce? Is it necessary? Thanks! This looks great!

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    1. stacy,
      nutritional yeast is deactivated yeast and it gives sauces/food a cheesy taste. that's the best way i can describe it. i would say that it's an optional ingredient to this dish, as the béchamel was plenty creamy without it.

      definitely you can use any kind of milk, vegan or dairy, to make this béchamel sauce. nix the nutritional yeast as well. and in lieu of the olive oil, use butter instead.

      i also love beefaroni! and using ground turkey is fantastic... like it's hamburger helper, which i'm a fan of too.

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    2. Awesome! Thank you! I'm going to try and remember to put this on my dinner list for next week! We often fancy up Hamburger Helper at my house with some spices and veggies. I can't even remember what it tastes like without doing all that. It's quick and easy so has become somewhat of a household staple. My poor husband... ;)

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    3. please do let me know how it turns out for you!

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  5. I have never made béchamel sauce before, but now this is something I suddenly need in my life. I have to confess that canned spaghettio's are on my list of things I miss eating (why can't they just make a version without the parm and whey?), so I am going to give this a shot and see if I can't recreate the magic. Lovely, lovely, lovely second photo and design.

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    1. i think the same thing, i can't fathom why they bother with the dairy in canned varieties.
      thanks so much for your kind words!

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  6. what an awesome version of spaghettios! love it!

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  7. We were talking about canned spaghetti the other day - and how much we loved it as kids. But it tastes different now - I don't think it's because we're grown up. I THINK THEY CHANGED IT. Sigh.

    I wonder what Campbell's would think of your oh-so-sophisicated spaghetti-o-venison mash up? I'm bettin' they'd be impressed...

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    1. think they'll call and ask me to spearhead a non-bpa canned version for them? cus i'd totally do it.

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  8. I rather prefer homemade sauces than canned, but there are some moments, when canned sauces are useful. Pasta looks delicious.

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    1. it's all about comfort and time restraints and there certainly are great non-bpa canned options out there.

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  9. Wow venison meatballs? My husband is a huge venison fan but I wonder if he has eaten meatball version. I love this comfort food. Looks delish!

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    1. it added a completely different dimension to the dish, a bit more exotic than if i had used ground turkey.

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  10. One of my favorite Edward songs! Great modification to a great dish :) I want!!

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    1. i love love love that song, it always makes me happy when i hear it.

      thank you!

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  11. Loving this! What a great grown-up version!

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