A participant in one of my plant-based cooking class series recently asked if I have a vegan spaghetti sauce recipe that omnivores would love too, so today I want to share a recipe that is a go-to sauce for me when we have reluctant omnivores over for dinner. It uses some Yves veggie ground round, which is a good substitute for those looking for the traditional texture of ground beef in a vegan dish.
The veggie ground round is what I call a “transition food”. Transition foods (aka veggie “meats” and “cheeses” or other products that are made to act as substitutes for their animal product counterpart) are an interesting subject, and everyone seems to have a strong opinion about them. I like to call them transition foods because I think they can be very helpful and comforting to people who are trying to get some/all of the animal products out of their diets, especially in the very early stages. Yes, they are still processed and often contain sodium, sugars and other ingredients that you may prefer to avoid (but they’re not all created equal, so do read your labels). Neither am I saying that they’re something you necessarily want to be eating every day. However, I do believe that they can be helpful as people transition from the standard Canadian diet to a more plant-based one.
Despite the fact that their flavours and textures are much improved from even five years ago, some people hate the idea of transition foods, feeling that they’d rather stick to foods that aren’t trying to pose as meat/cheese etc. If that’s where you fall, I’d say great! The more you stick to whole, plant foods the better! But if it’s going to make the difference between having a meat burger and a store-bought veggie burger, then the veggie burger is by far the healthier, happier choice. In addition, transition foods can be a great help if you are cooking for non-vegans (or new ones) – to create a familiar dish that doesn’t seem too “out there”.
This recipe has been a family favourite among our wide variety of vegans, vegetarians, flexitarians and omnivores alike. Aside from the Yves veggie ground round it contains lots of veggies, and tonnes of mushrooms (which have amazing health benefits…did you know?). Serve it over a whole grain pasta, and with a BIG green salad, and you’ve got a great meal (that is easy to make for a big crowd, and freezes really well too!)
Go-To Spaghetti Sauce
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 6 cups mushrooms, sliced
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 1 312-gram package veggie ground round
- 1 cup chopped red/green bell pepper
- 2 tsp chili powder (or more for more heat)
- 2 tsp dried basil
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 796-ml can diced tomatoes (with no added salt)
- 1 398 ml can low sodium tomato sauce
- 3/4 tsp sea salt (or to taste)
- 1/4 tsp black pepper, or to taste)
- Heat a large saucepan, and add 1-2 tbsp water, along with the diced onion. Water saute for a few minutes, until the onions are starting to become transparent. Add the sliced mushrooms, and when they start to release their liquid, add the garlic, celery and bell pepper. Mix well.
- Add the veggie ground round, breaking it up and mixing well. Add the herbs and spices, the tomatoes, tomato sauce, sea salt and black pepper, and once again mix well.
- Bring the whole thing to a low boil, stirring frequently. Turn heat to low and cook for 15 minutes or longer, until flavours have had a chance to meld. Taste to see if you want to adjust the seasonings.
- Serve over whole grain pasta, with a large side salad for a healthy, quick meal.