In a recent discussion with my husband, who is From Away, I learned that only New Englanders call this vaguely Italian hodgepodge by a Chinese name. To most Americans it's simply Macaroni and Beef, though oddly, midwesterners call it Johnny Marzetti. By any name, it's a meal that satisfies our deepest human need for protein, starch, and salt all mixed up in a bowl. (I'm reminded of my father-in-law, on his most recent visit to Maine, attempting in vain to order Chili Size, a similar slop with a Tex-Mex twist that's revered throughout the southwest.)
Instead of ground beef, this healthier vegan version of American Chop Suey uses crumbled tempeh (use something like Morningstar Farms Veggie Crumbles if you prefer) and an assortment of chopped vegetables. Even if you can eat gluten, try quinoa pasta here; sturdier than rice or wheat, it adds even more protein to this classic stick-to-your-ribs dish.
American Chop Veggie
Macaroni and Tempeh
1 large onion, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 large carrot, diced
8 ounces tempeh
1½ cups sliced mushrooms
2 tablespoons vegan worcestershire sauce or tamari (wheat-free, if necessary)
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper
28-ounce can roasted diced tomatoes
8 ounces pasta (any small shape)
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (optional)
In a large skillet, warm oil over medium heat. Sauté onion 4-5 minutes, until edges begin to brown. Add garlic and sauté another 2 minutes. Add bell pepper and carrot and sauté an additional 4-5 minutes, until vegetables begin to soften.
Crumble tempeh into bite-sized pieces over skillet. Add mushrooms, worcestershire sauce or tamari, thyme, oregano, basil, chili powder, salt, and black pepper. Toss to mix well. Sauté 3 minutes, until mushrooms are soft. Add diced tomatoes and their liquid. Stir and reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 15 minutes.
Cook pasta according to package directions. When pasta is al dente, drain and toss with vegetable mixture. Stir in nutritional yeast.Serves 6.