If you’ve gone vegan, you know there are a lot of questions that come with the territory. How do you get enough protein? Wasn’t it hard to give up cheese? Are there any dishes that you really miss?
If you’re asking me, I’ll tell you that I eat a variety of plant-based proteins, like beans and tofu, and that I didn’t have a hard time giving up cheese because I actually like vegan cheese. And yes, there are dishes that I miss, like my dad’s chicken soup or my mom’s stuffed peppers. Though I’ve sworn off animal products, it makes me sad to think that I will never eat these meals again.
That’s because these are not just any old dishes, but the ones that bring on the nostalgia. For a blue house filled with the delicious smell of a big pot of soup or sauce simmering the day away. For a family of four sitting down to eat in the kitchen, no phones or television to distract us from each other. For flavors that no restaurant meal or grocery store product can ever resemble, because they’re us.
Thing is, I don’t want to miss these dishes. I want to have my nostalgia and eat it too. And so begins my mission to “veganize” my favorite family recipes, hopeful that I can replicate the heart of each dish, minus the animal products, and cultivate a lasting family dinner tradition in my own home.
I thought I’d begin with one of the classics – my mom’s stuffed peppers. Rather than rice and meat, these peppers are filled with a spongey stuffing made with eggs, cheese, and breadcrumbs. They’re cooked slowly in tomato sauce, which not only smells awesome, but results in a flavorful red pepper sauce that begs to be served over a big bowl of ziti.
For a long time, I thought this dish would be off the table for me as a vegan because it would be difficult to replicate the taste and texture of the eggy stuffing. But that was before Follow Your Heart introduced VeganEgg, a powdered product that looks, acts, and tastes like egg once it is blended with ice cold water.
So I did a little research (which is to say I called my mom a bunch of times) and got to cooking. My first batch of peppers turned out pretty good, but the stuffing was a bit too soft and did not fill the peppers all the way up. I made some tweaks to the VeganEgg mixture on the second go ’round and was happy with the result. My sauce tastes just like the original and my peppers are pretty darn close.
One less dish I have to miss!
RECIPE: Vegan Egg Stuffed Peppers and Pasta
These stuffed red peppers feature an eggy filling that’s 100% vegan. As they simmer away, the stuffing cooks and the sauce takes on the flavor of red pepper. Pair with ziti for the perfect Sunday supper.
- 2 28 oz cans of tomato puree
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- ½ cup onion, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- ½ tsp parsley
- ½ tsp basil
- ½ tsp salt
- 5 red peppers, scooped out
- 12 tbsp VeganEgg, level/unpacked
- 3 cups ice cold water
- 1 cup Italian style breadcrumbs
- ½ cup vegan Parmesan cheese (I used this one, from Follow Your Heart)
- 1 lb ziti (or pasta of your choice)
- Start the sauce by sautéing the onions in olive oil over medium heat until translucent/cooked through. Stir in garlic, parsley, and basil and cook for just a minute or two until fragrant. Pour in cans of tomato puree and switch to low heat. Allow the sauce to simmer while you prepare the peppers.
- Make the filling for the stuffed peppers, by whisking or blending 12 tablespoons of VeganEgg with 3 cups of ice cold water. Combine with the breadcrumbs and vegan parmesan cheese and season with salt and pepper.
- Use a spoon to fill each pepper almost all the way to the top with the VeganEgg mixture. Carefully place the peppers in the simmering sauce. Arrange them standing upright against each other so that they are not going to fall over before the filling sets. Once the filling sets, it’s okay if a pepper tilts over.
- Simmer the peppers in the sauce for 1.5-2 hours until the VeganEgg mixture becomes firm and the sauce takes on the heavenly taste and aroma of the red peppers. Stir frequently in between and under peppers to prevent the sauce from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
- Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the package. Mix with red pepper sauce and garnish with vegan parmesan cheese and fresh basil. Serve family style along with the stuffed peppers and extra sauce.
- This is not a quick and easy meal. I recommend making it on a Sunday afternoon when someone else is around to entertain the little one. Anyway, what’s better than sauce on Sunday?
- To save some time you can scoop out the peppers earlier in the day, like during the baby’s morning nap, then store them in the fridge until you’re ready to cook. You can do this while watching Netflix and drinking coffee, and it’s actually kind of nice.
What dishes would you miss the most if you went vegetarian or vegan? If you’re already veg, what do you miss and have you tried “veganizing” it?