It seems like I’m constantly having to apologize for eating a mostly vegan diet, and I seem to be including a lot of “I swear it’s good!” affirmations with these recipes. This is sort of pathetic of me, really, but here I am doing it again. I really, really mean it this time. This is an extremely hearty, savoury dish with a lot of umami–just like you would get from a beef gravy (and it’s a simple recipe secret that does not involve any tofu or weird, fake meat). All in an animal-friendly, lower fat, cholesterol-free package. If meat-eaters can’t enjoy this one, I’ll stop trying to convince you. It’s easy (and cheap!) as well, so you may as well give it a try. You’ve nothing to lose!
Several weeks ago, I finally convinced my partner to watch The Sopranos with me. Before we had even finished the first season, I had an overwhelming urge to put a healthier spin on baked ziti, which Carmella makes at least twice per episode. I had also completely memorized Andrea Bocelli’s “Con Te Partiro,” which they would play in any scene with Carmella crying (after bringing someone a baked ziti, of course). Anyway, that’s off the subject. I actually really like The Sopranos; I just wish Carmella would have branched out a little.
This is a pretty versatile recipe. The recipe I outline is the turkey sausage version, but vegetarians could easily replace the turkey sausage with TVP (Morningstar Farms crumbles, for instance) or about a pound of roughly chopped mushrooms–making it entirely vegan. Stubborn purists could make it with ground beef or pork sausage. All I ask is that you try it without the dairy. I’ve never been a fan of the grainy texture of ricotta, and this tofu version is actually really tasty (and much smoother/creamier than regular ricotta). You can also taste the mixture of the sauce, meat, and spices instead of the whole thing being a glop of melted cheese. Not to mention, it is much lower in saturated fat and bad cholesterol. So give it a shot!
[Mom–don’t you DARE put cottage cheese in this.]