I’m trying to make the switch over to Beyond Beef (or similar products) whenever possible, because…you know…environment. I’ll be honest: I resisted for awhile, because something about the concept freaks me out (although why plant-based protein should freak me out more than actual ground beef is beyond me). But then I tried Burger King’s Impossible Whopper, and it tasted…like a Whopper. The taste was virtually indistinguishable from the OG (cheese and sauce, basically), and the texture may even have been an improvement.
Next experiment: Seeing whether I can swap in plant-based protein for the primary ingredient in one of my family’s all-time favorite dishes, pasta bolognese. We make one version of this dish or another virtually every week, so this is not a change I make lightly – and not one I especially accepted my children to get on board with.
So? I didn’t tell them. Sue me; sometimes children are on a need-to-know basis with these kinds of things.
The verdict: No one – myself and Kendrick included – could tell the difference. Literally identical taste and texture. #sold.
What You Need:
- 1 package pasta of choice (I like spaghetti or linguine for this; it needs a more robust type of pasta to hold the sauce properly)
- 1 yellow onion, finely diced
- 1 cup carrots, diced
- 1 cup celery, diced
- 4-6 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 16-oz package ground Beyond Beef
- 1 tsp tomato paste
- 1 28-oz can diced tomatoes
- 1 14-oz can tomato sauce
- Handful fresh basil
What You Do:
- Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook the pasta according to package directions, then drain (reserving a little bit of the pasta water in case you need it to loosen the sauce later).
- In a large saucepan with high sides, heat a little olive oil. Add the Beyond Beef, season with salt and pepper, and cook about five minutes, frequently pressing down on the beef with the back of a spoon to break it up, until just cooked through. Using a slotted spoon, remove the beef and set aside.
- In the same saucepan (adding a little more olive oil), cook the onion, carrots and celery, stirring frequently, about 5-6 minutes, or until softened. Add the garlic for the last 30 seconds of cooking and stir constantly.
- Return the Beyond Beef to the pot, then add the diced tomatoes and tomato sauce. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for about fifteen minutes. Less if you’re starving; more if you can wait – a little longer tends to be better.
- When you’re happy with the sauce, season to taste, then pour in the pasta and toss it all together. Add a little pasta water if you feel like it needs to be thinned out a touch.
- Serve by ripping up a bit of the fresh basil and sprinkling it over the top – oh, and with fresh shaved parmigiana if you’re feeling fancy (and non-vegan).