This week I am going to give you all one of my favorite recipes.

It’s my go-to when I don’t have a lot of time to spend in the kitchen, but I don’t want to just microwave something or end up eating a bowl of Honey Bunches of Oats for dinner again. It’s quick, easy, cheap and 100% vegan. Now, this may sound strange at first, but hear me out: mushroom “meat sauce” for spaghetti.

The idea here is not to mimic the taste of the ground turkey or beef, but rather it is to mimic the texture of the ground meat in order to give the tomato sauce more substance. This recipe is incredibly simple, and it is very easy to change up the recipe and make your own version of this “meat sauce.”

For this recipe, I like to use spaghetti sauce from a jar simply because it saves a lot of time. However, feel free to whip up your own sauce using fresh or canned tomatoes and some fresh herbs and garlic. I’ll have a recipe for that coming later.

As I stated earlier, this recipe is incredibly simple and takes less than half an hour from start to finish. I am not going to lie to you, my friends, I don’t have exact measurements for this recipe, but that is only because this recipe is so flexible, and I really encourage you to adjust the ratio of mushrooms to sauce to seasonings to your taste. What I’ll be giving you here is essentially an outline of what the sauce should look and taste like, and you can adjust to your own preferences.

The main ingredient here is mushrooms, very finely chopped; I like to use the baby bella mushrooms because Kroger usually has them on sale. Just in case no one has ever told you, you haveto wash them; mushrooms are one of the dirtiest produce items in the store, so please wash them!

Additionally, you’ll want to use a lot of mushrooms, in order to get a nice texture that is similar to ground beef, you want the sauce to be nice and thick. When you add the tomato sauce, you want to keep it at around a 1:1-1.5 ratio of mushrooms to tomato sauce.

Preheat a skillet on the stove with about a tablespoon of olive oil, and once the skillet is hot, sauté the mushrooms until soft. Season with salt and pepper to your taste. I also like to throw in some red pepper flakes at this point to give it a little spice – a quarter or half a teaspoon should do the trick.

When the mushrooms are almost done cooking, toss in a clove or so of minced garlic. I love garlic, so I usually take this to the extreme and use around 4 just for myself. But if garlic is not your absolute favorite, one clove is just fine.

Once the mushrooms are done cooking, reduce the heat to very low and pour in your jar of store-bought spaghetti sauce and let it all simmer for about 10 minutes. This is where I like to “doctor up” the sauce and add more seasonings like salt, pepper and basil.

Let all of that sit for a little while until the sauce is heated through, then serve over cooked spaghetti noodles. Top with vegetarian Parmesan for a filling, vegetarian dinner or leave it off to keep it 100% vegan.

Lauren Adams is a junior studying Spanish and Political Science with a minor in German. She can be reached at ladams30@vols.utk.edu

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