Monday, September 12

Solar Baked Vegetarian Spaghetti

No question, I'm a pasta lover -- no, wait -- I'm a solar-baked pasta lover! And, it's no surprise to anyone that I enjoy a good steak. That being said, I also know that I have vegetarian and vegan followers who do so because they are fascinated by solar cooking and they can adapt my recipes to vegetarian (vegan takes a little more work) by using a vegetable stock base and removing the meat protein. That doesn't mean I can't enjoy a vegetable pizza or lasagna, and often do. Reading a recent entry from one of my favorite bloggers, Penny at Penniless Parenting, featuring a vegan meat substitute recipe, was just the inspiration needed for me to try to create a solar-baked spaghetti for my vegetarian friends. Of course, I had to substitute some ingredients, so I've included the link to her recipe for a true vegan experience. Make them both and decide for yourself!

It's important for you to know that, because I love the taste of meat, meat substitutes rarely satisfy me. That has changed with Penny's recipe and my adaptations. The meat substitute was as delicious as any crumbled hamburger I've ever made and it even fooled my Gentleman Caller. And, just like Penny says, this is not the most attractive ingredient -- but, the flavor is fantastic! Double the recipe and freeze portions to have ready for another meal, or two.

Solar Baked Vegetarian Spaghetti
1# pre-cooked spaghetti
1-1/2 cups cooked green lentils
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, diced and fried dark (reserve 1/3 cup onions when soft)
2 cups zucchini, diced and fried dark
1/2 cup mushrooms, chopped and fried dark
2 medium cloves garlic (or 1/2 tsp garlic salt)
1/4 teaspoon ground sage
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Salt to taste
1 cup ground pecans (toasted, is better)
10 ounces diced tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon sweet basil
1/4 teaspoon stevia
1/2 teaspoon parsley flakes
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1-1/2 cups grated cheeses of your choice

Directions: Preheat solar oven to 225F. Prepare pasta and set aside in large mixing bowl. Combine with diced tomatoes, basil, stevia, parsley, oregano, and reserved soft-sauteed onions. Prepare lentils. (1 cup dry lentils will give you 1-1/2 cup cooked lentils)

Have another large mixing bowl ready. In heavy skillet over medium-high heat, fry onions in olive oil (removing 1/3 cup when onions are soft to mix with tomatoes and pasta) until dark and carmelized. Remove to large mixing bowl with slotted spoon. Fry zucchini and mushrooms, separately, until dark and add to onions. Fry garlic until soft and just beginning to brown and add to mixture. Add lentils, ground nuts, sage, mustard, and blend with food processor or immersion blender.

Layer spaghetti mixture in baking pan, spread 'meat' mixture in thin layer over top; add another pasta layer, another 'meat' layer, top with final pasta layer. Spread shredded cheese over all. Bake in solar oven for approximately 55 to 75 minutes. [NOTE: If you don't want your cheese to get so dark during cooking, cover the spaghetti with a piece of tin foil for the first half of baking, then remove foil and spread the grated cheese over top. Return to solar oven and continue baking for approximately 35 minutes or until cheese just begins to brown.] 

Enjoy and let me know what you think.


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