welcome to the inaugural wtf do i feed you - the newsletter fka the katie needsletter! if you missed it last week (hello new subscribers!), i’m on an ongoing journey to feed my family without it being a whole dang thing (which it always is…). i’ve got literally 85+ cookbooks collecting dust, my energy & inspo is back (thank you, zoloft) and i am determined to zuzsh up our dang dinner roster.
so now we’re caught up! cool.
so, here’s what went down last few weeks:
after watching seaspiracy (way above his age level, i know, but at this point in the pandemic we’re out of octonauts, so we had to level up) my very determined four year old has decided that he’s now a vegetarian. which is chill - i’m totally down! we try to eat mostly plants so it’s not that big of an adjustment but this means, for him, that he’s going to have to get a little more adventurous with flavours and textures and new ingredients (or at least that was part of our deal). “that’s fine” he says. so i hit the books.
OH i need to take a moment here to mention: 3 of us are cow milk intolerant, 2 of us can’t handle rice, 1 of us is allergic to barley and potatoes (sweet potatoes are ok) and then we have the vegetarian kid who used to be a fearless eater but has gotten a bit more hesitant as he’s gotten older.
so with all of this in mind, i picked a few newbies & tried a few of my (EMPHASIS ON MY - this is the whole point) fave standby veggie heavy recipes including:
scallion pancake and maple syrup slaw from molly yeh’s molly on the range (and sesame chicken here, too!)
falafel waffles from sarah britton’s naturally nourished
jacket sweet taters with all sorts of toppings (a lil’ ode to kumpir), from my brain
pantry dal from angela liddon’s oh she glows for dinner (with quinoa and grocery store naan)
the new pasta with vegan bologneasy, also from my brain
i also made some desserts and they were all slam dunks, obv.
tahini blondies with dark chocolate chunks & pistachio halva inspired by the blondie in edd kimber’s one tin bakes (i might sell these, tbh)
macaroon brownies from jew-ish (this makes an unreal amount of brownies, i shared half the tray with my neighbours)
sesame challah monkey bread from eating out loud (YUM)
green smoothie muffins from the natural nurturer (cannot recommend these enough)
now, the question of the hour - did my kids eat it!? here’s how that went down.
loved it: scallion pancake, sesame chicken, braised cabbage, chicken thighs, jacket sweet potatoes, pantry dal, bologneasy
took some coaxing but ended up being eaten: spinach and feta saag, maple syrup slaw, kale tabbouleh, kuku sabzi (this one was so good but it has a lot of textures and colours - the baby loved it, the 4 year old said “this is disgusting” and then eventually slammed it - happily, i might add - after some words were exchanged).
not a winner: falafel waffles. i had really high hopes but it turns out that these were very dry and straight up tasted bad.
the dal, frittata and pasta went down with the least amount of drama (and were really delicious) which means they are officially in the roster. and lucky for you, today’s newsletter comes with my recipe for vegan bolognese - which we call bologneasy, because it’s legit so easy.
ok enjoy! ttyl! thanks for reading! let me know if you make this! tag me on insta or whatever @katieneeds.
vegan bolognese aka bologneasy
serves 2 grown ups & 2 kids, with leftovers
enough pasta for 4 people (cascatelli pictured above - IT’S GREAT - but we eat this with any pasta shape)
olive oil (or butter if you can do dairy and aren’t doing vegan)
kosher salt & fresh ground pep
1 jar of classico tomato & basil pasta sauce (or your fave pasta sauce)
1 shallot or small onion, quartered
1 small can of lentils, rinsed & drained
totally optional but very delicious added veggie value:
1 carrot, diced
1 stalk of celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
the aforementioned shallot or onion, but diced
if you have them and they’re about to go bad - a handful of mushrooms or peppers, you guessed it…diced.
get a pot of boiling water going for your pasta. salt that bad boy real good.
now this is where you can choose your own adventure! are you gonna go added value veg, or super easy?
added value veg:
in a heavy bottomed pot/dutch oven, heat up a biiig glug of olive oil over medium/high. add your minced up veg and alliums (think a mirepoix) and salt/pep them. cook until they’re soft (a few minutes). then add your rinced and drained lentils, and get that all mixed together. add more fat if it’s starting to get really stuck - you can choose butter or oil here, it’s your call.
after like 5 minutes, add your can of tomato sauce. then, fill that can of sauce up with water about 3/4 of the way, shake it up so it cleans out the jar (you’re welcome for that life hack), and pour the water into the pot. add another glug of olive oil or a pat of butter. stir it up, check for seasoning and adjust as you wish. turn the heat down to med/low so it doesn’t bubble all over your counter and/or clothes and let it cook, stirring to make sure no lentils get stuck to the bottom of the pot and tasting for seasoning occasionally.
in a heavy bottomed pot/dutch oven, heat up a few tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. add your quartered shallot or onion and cook for a bit until it starts to soften. then add your lentils and season with salt and pepper, getting them all coated in seasoning and oil. then, add your jar of sauce, and a jar full of water. add either 1 big pat of butter, or another glug of olive oil and let the sauce simmer on med-low until your pasta is done. stir occasionally to make sure lentils don’t stick, and always check for seasoning.
PRO TOMATO SAUCE TIP: if it’s on the more acidic side than you’d like, you can always add a tiny pinch of baking soda to mellow it out ;)
OK now we are back to the main story:
when the water is boiling, cook your pasta. when it’s al dente, reserve about 1/3 cup of pasta water and put as much as you need into the sauce to thin it out a little bit (if it feels too thick for your liking).
turn the sauce burner off because it’s going to be straight up molten lava and, if your kids are like mine, they don’t eat food that’s a degree over “tepid”.
when it’s cooked, drain that pasta, and either plate it up & top with sauce, or put the pasta back into the pot you cooked it in, and coat your pasta with as much sauce as you like. OR if you have a kiddo that doesn’t enjoy a pre-sauced meal, just put the pasta and sauce in their own separate areas of your favourite plate and let them sauce their own noods as they wish. no judgement here! whatever works.
serve it up with cheese or a little flakey salt & pep, and a swish of good olive oil to keep it vegan. remember to roll your kids sleeves up & give them a napkin or a bib because there will definitely be sauce everywhere and for that i am sorry.
ps: the leftover sauce is very good for shakshuka. or if you’ve pre sauced your pasta and have leftovers, toast up some really good sourdough, rub that with garlic & evoo and make some fancy spaghetti on toast. or just enjoy the leftovers for lunch/dinner another night because this keeps for (i’m gonna say) the better part of a work week in the fridge.