Kids of all ages, even grown ups, will love this home-cooked version of the classic Chef Boyardee Beefaroni. Perfectly cooked macaroni, smothered in a zesty sauce with chunky tomatoes and “beef” is the ideal comfort nostalgic dish. Even the most diehard meat lover won’t be able to resist!
SKILLET VEGETARIAN BEEFARONI
I’m going to admit something that I really shouldn’t, but this recipe post really needs it to be said. When I was a kid, I loved anything Chef Boyardee. My personal favourites were the overstuffed ravioli and, of course, the Beefaroni. Well, needless to say, my tastes have changed over the years, which is why I had to perfect this Skillet Vegetarian Beefaroni.
Until McKenna moved in with us, we never bought prepared canned food at the grocery store. (Other than canned beans or legumes.) But, she loves it and can’t do without her favourite pasta shapes in tomato sauce! After I learned how to cook with textured vegetable protein, and realizing how much potential there was using that particular product, all of my childhood favourite recipes became mealtime options once again.
IT’S FREEZER FRIENDLY TOO!
I have made this recipe several times now and it turns out delicious every single time. One of the really cool things about this dish is that you can easily freeze it and reheat it. You will note from the recipe card at the bottom of this post, that this dish makes a rather large amount. To freeze, simply allow the finished dish to cool completely. Package it in serving sized freezer-friendly containers and freeze.
To reheat, I prefer to remove the container from the freezer in the morning before I go to work and place it in the refrigerator. Then, when I arrive home, I add a few tablespoons of water to a large, deep skillet, and toss in the semi-frozen Beefaroni. On medium heat, allow the water to help steam out the rest of the coldness and in no time at all, the pasta will return to its original, glorious state.
Once the pasta is completely thawed and loose – do not break it up when it’s reheating, let the pasta relax and separate on its own – add a tablespoon or two of good olive oil to help bring back the shine and gloss of what looks like a freshly cooked Skillet Vegetarian Beefaroni.
HERE IS WHAT YOU WILL NEED:
- Vegetarian Beef Crumbles – You can find these just about anywhere these days! They are a vegetarian version of ground beef. The most common brand in our area is Gardein.
- Pasta – You can use any short-cut pasta, like macaroni, fusilli, penne, etc.
- Tomato Paste – This is where that deep tomato flavour comes from!
- Canned Tomatoes – Get the best bang for your dollar by purchasing whole canned tomatoes and chopping them yourself. If you’re a home canner, use your own canned diced tomatoes.
- Onion – I like to mince the onion so that I don’t see big chunks of it in the pasta.
- Garlic – No matter what pasta dish you’re making, garlic is a must!
- Parsley – A bit of greenery and freshness will never hurt anyone!
- Seasonings – Paprika, salt, and ground black pepper.
- Dried Red Chili Flakes – If you like a bit of warmth to your pasta, add the chilies; if not, leave them out!
- Olive Oil
WHAT IS TEXTURED VEGETABLE PROTEIN?
If you have been following my blog, you certainly will have noticed that I love to cook with textured vegetable protein (TVP). The product is a high-fiber, high-protein meat substitute made from soy flour and available in a variety of flavored and unflavored varieties, as well as different sizes, from large chunks to small flakes. Because it is cheap and widely available, it is popular amongst many people cooking on a budget, in vegetarian cooking and is used in some vegan recipes.
Textured vegetable protein is a versatile substance; different forms allow it to take on the texture of whatever ground meat it is substituting. Using TVP, one can make vegetarian or vegan versions of traditionally meat-based dishes. Try my Shepherd’s Pie or my Stuffed Pepper Soup. One of the most popular TVP dishes on my blog is my Vegetarian Korean Beef.
HOW TO MAKE SKILLET VEGETARIAN BEEFARONI:
This really couldn’t be easier. And the results for such little work are phenomenal! In a very large, deep skillet, sauté the onion in olive oil. Add the salt and pepper. Once the onion is translucent, add the minced garlic and the vegetarian beef crumbles. Sauté for a few minutes until the garlic is cooked and the crumbles are heated through.
If you are using real ground beef, you will need to cook until the beef is browned and cooked through! Stir in the paprika and the dried red chili pepper flakes, if you want some spicy heat. Once thoroughly mixed, transfer the mixture to a large metal bowl and set aside.
Add 5 cups of water to the skillet, bring to a boil and add 450 grams of elbow macaroni; allow the macaroni to cook in the skillet until the water has been absorbed. Don’t worry if the macaroni is not fully cooked; it will continue to cook in the next step. Add back the “meat” mixture back to the pot, along with the tomato paste, canned tomatoes along with the tomato juice. Stir all ingredients together and allow mixture to simmer until the liquid from the tomato juice has been absorbed.
Add the chopped parsley and continue to cook for one more minute. That’s it! You’re all done and you’ve only managed to make a mess of just one pot. Skillet Vegetarian Beefaroni is a winner, if you ask me! Serve hot with grated parmesan cheese and more fresh parsley.
NOT A VEGETARIAN? USE GROUND BEEF INSTEAD!
If you are completely against using textured vegetable protein, you could certainly substitute it with lean ground beef. Just cook the beef first and then drain the grease before continuing on with the recipe instructions.
Whatever you decide, textured vegetable protein or ground beef, you’re certainly in for a great meal. And, Dear Reader, you can leave the canned stuff at the store; this dish is certainly filling, hearty, healthier, and most certainly has less fillers and preservatives. Enjoy!
Skillet Vegetarian Beefaroni
- 600 grams vegetarian beef crumbles
- 450 grams elbow macaroni
- 5 ounces tomato paste
- 2 cans whole tomatoes, roughly chopped
- 1 large onion, minced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ¼ cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- ½ tablespoon dried red chili pepper flakes, optional
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- In a very large, deep skillet, sauté the onion in olive oil. Add the salt and pepper.
- Once the onion is translucent, add the minced garlic and the vegetarian beef crumbles (or ground beef); sauté for a few minutes until the garlic is cooked and the crumbles are heated through. (If using beef, you will need to cook until the beef is browned and cooked through.)
- Stir in the paprika and the dried red chili pepper flakes.
- Once thoroughly mixed, transfer the mixture to a large metal bowl and set aside.
- Add 5 cups of water to the skillet, bring to a boil and add 450 grams of elbow macaroni; allow the macaroni to cook in the skillet until the water has been absorbed.
- Don’t worry if the macaroni is not fully cooked; it will continue to cook in the next step.
- Add back the “meat” mixture, tomato paste, canned tomatoes along with the tomato juice.
- Stir all ingredients together and allow mixture to simmer until the liquid from the tomato juice has been absorbed.
- Add the chopped parsley and continue to cook for one more minute.
- Serve hot with grated parmesan cheese and more fresh parsley.