Food2 is jumping on board with Meatless Monday, an initiative to help reduce meat consumption for personal health and the health of the planet by going vegetarian for one day each week.
Pasta and meatballs: the ultimate comfort food. With a vegetarian makeover, this Italian-American classic goes from a calorie-laden dish to a healthy dinner option. Whip up the sauce ahead of time, and you’ll have a delicious weeknight meal in no time at all.
Vegetarian Pasta and No-Meatballs
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 shallots, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 32-ounce can crushed tomatoes
2 cups water
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
8 ounces vegetarian sausage
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (regular or vegan)
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 tablespoons salt
8 ounces fresh or frozen cavatelli pasta
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
8 ounces broccoli rabe
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 shallot, minced
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon butter (regular or vegan)
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese (regular or vegan), optional
1. Make sauce: In a large sauce pot on the stovetop, heat two tablespoons of oil over a medium-high flame. Add shallots and garlic and sauté until translucent, about five minutes. Add celery, carrots, salt and pepper. Sauté until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally. Add the crushed tomatoes, water, bay leaves, oregano, and basil and simmer, uncovered, over low heat until the sauce thickens, about 2 hours, stirring every 20-30 minutes. Season the sauce with more salt and pepper, to taste.
2. Make meatballs: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, mix vegetarian sausage, parsley and cheese well. Form into 1” balls. In a medium skillet, heat olive oil over high heat. Cook meatballs until browned on all sides. Transfer to oven and cook for 10 minutes.
3. Make pasta: Boil a pot of water with salt and cook cavatelli until al dente. Strain, and mix with olive oil.
4. Make broccoli rabe: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add broccoli rabe and cook until bright green and tender, about 2-3 minutes. Plunge into a bowl of ice water to stop cooking. Drain. Heat olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Cook shallots and garlic until shallots are translucent and tender.
5. To assemble dish: Mix together the pasta, broccoli rabe, 1 cup of marinara sauce, and butter. (The remaining sauce can be kept for three days in the refrigerator, and up to six months in the freezer) Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add meatballs, and top with Parmesan cheese.