I have a lot of memories related to food. Many events and significant milestones are marked by the food involved. And then there are some food memories that are so mundane, so routine, that I remember them for their simplicity, the taste of the meal, the emotions around the occurrence, the joy in the repetition of knowing those foods would always be a part of my life.
Many foods from my childhood I have not eaten since I left home. While not necessarily “unhealthy,” they were just foods that I forgot about as I paved my way in my first kitchen out on my own. And then I got pregnant, and literally woke up in the middle of the night craving a cinnamon raisin bagel with peanut butter. And after not purchasing bagels ever in my adult life, I found myself in the bread aisle at the grocery store the next day.
My all-time favorite food, hands-down, growing up was my mother’s tuna noodle casserole. A food on the list of many that I forgot about as I started creating and making and forming my own culinary path. And then I made a vegan dish one Thanksgiving, that while not remotely similar to tuna casserole, had a distinctive taste that reminded me of these flavors that I had enjoyed so much as a child. And then I promptly forgot about it again, never trying to make my own variation of it, until today. So, thanks to the Vegan Month of Food, we have a fairly authentic, slightly healthier variation on this classic childhood comfort food.
- 1 T olive oil
- 1 c onion, diced
- 1/2 c celery, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 2 c mushrooms
- 1 14-oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained (reserve 1/4 cup)
- 1 T kelp flakes
- 1/2 c walnuts
- 2 tsp tamari
- 1/4 c fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 T fresh thyme, chopped
- 2 c raw cashews, soaked
- 1 c water
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 2 T nutritional yeast
- 1 T apple cider vinegar
- 16 oz curly noodles of choice
- 1/4 c breadcrumbs or almond meal
- Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onion, celery, and garlic, and saute until translucent. Remove from pan. Add mushrooms and let cook down while preparing next steps.
- In a food processor, combine onion mixture, salt, pepper, chickpeas + 1/4 c liquid, kelp flake, walnuts, lemon juice, tamari, parsley, and thyme until roughly chopped and combined.
- Drain and rinse cashews. Add to blender with water, salt, pepper, vinegar, and nutritional yeast, and blend on high until smooth. You want this to be runny.
- Add cashew mixture to saucepan with mushrooms. Stir to combine. Remove from heat quickly.
- Cook noodles according to package directions, but undercook by a few minutes. You want the noodles to be a little firm still. Add mushroom sauce and chickpea mixture to noodles and stir to combine.
- Pour into a greased 9x11 baking dish. Top with breadcrumbs or almond meal. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and continue cooking for 10 minutes, until bubbling.
Per serving: 435 calories, 59 g carbohydrate, 16 g fat, 17 g protein, 210 mg sodium, 8 g sugar