As you all know, I am not completely vegan as I occasionally eat poultry and fish. Thus, I am mammal-free, not meat-free or vegan (I feel I must clarify as this has been an area of debate). The reason for this apparent discrepancy lies in the results of my blood work: I show sensitivities to all animal products except poultry and fish. However, I find chicken (basically the only animal product I do eat) hard to keep on hand. First, I don’t have time to go to the grocery store all the time, especially since the closest grocery store was bulldozed and is undergoing a massive remodel. Second, meat (and all animal products) spoil so quickly. So when I do go grocery shopping, I can’t buy in bulk because I can’t eat that much chicken, and I don’t like to freeze my meat (it’s already been frozen at least once by the time it arrives at the store, further freezing just continues to degrade the texture and taste). Thus, I’ve found myself living a vegan lifestyle recently, somewhat out of laziness and somewhat out of intent.
As much as I’ve loved chicken my entire life, I’ve become a little more ambivalent about it recently. Now, cooking chicken and handling raw chicken has always grossed me out to the utmost degree. All that cold salmonella sliminess… shudder. Ask anyone that’s been around me in the kitchen, I am a raw meat cop: raw chicken on that plate? WASH, SCOLD WITH HOT WATER. Raw chicken touched that? SCOUR. Raw chicken looked in the direction of that cutting board? BURN. Raw chicken possibly dripped on the countertop? CLEAN ALL THE THINGS.
However, recently things have progressed a little further. I’ve become more and more concerned with how cooked the chicken is- if I even think I see a hint of pink, it makes me feel ill, and I can’t eat anymore. I’ve also realized that I always season or sauce the hell out of my chicken… probably because the taste and smell is beginning to strike me the wrong way on certain days. Thus, my refrigerator’s “meat drawer” the past week has not only contained no meat, but also no animal products at all. Instead, mister “meat drawer” is full of tofu and Daiya cheese… the average American would be aghast, I know. I only confirmed this suspicion when I took leftovers of this Veggie Tofu Pasta Primavera to work.
I was looking forward to lunch all day because I knew I had this little Pyrex bowl full of pasta joy, accompanied by an organic Gala apple (naturally) and some sliced and salted garden-grown cucumbers. As I took my delicious bowl of GF vegan heaven out of the microwave, scents of cilantro, garlic, cheese, and savory vegetables filled the air. I set my bowl down with pride as my coworkers asked “mm that smells good, what is that? Chicken?”
“Nope,” I said with a grin on my face, “the entire thing is gluten free and vegan! It’s gluten free pasta with a tofu and vegetable scramble with zucchini, squash, and carrot….”
I trailed on, knowing by the look on their faces that I had lost them at “gluten free and vegan,”and they were definitely not on board with my weirdass hippie shit when I brought up tofu. Thankfully my friend Carolyn reassured me of the deliciousness of my meal when, upon receipt of a picture of my meal, she declared “I’d eat that off the floor.” Funny how uttering one word can have such a ripple effect of fear and distrust…. tofu… I whisper into the ears of my enemies as wield my carrot stick, grated into a point, and poised to strike at their slab of deli meat. I am… the veggie avenger. The masked tofurkey. The legend of Daiya. Welcome to the cage match of nutrition, it’s Meatless Monday, bitches!
Veggie Tofu Pasta Primavera (Gluten Free, Vegan)
Gluten-free pasta (I never measure anything, oops, but I’d estimate that I made around 3 cups of Tinkyáda brown rice pasta)
1 inch slice of tofu, crumbled
½ cup grated zucchini
¼ cup grated squash
¼ cup grated carrot
1/8 cup Daiya mozzarella cheese
1 sprig of cilantro
Salt and pepper
1. Bring water to a boil in a medium sized pot. Add desired amount of GF pasta and return to a low boil. Cook for 14 minutes, drain, rinse with cold water, and return to heat.
2. While the pasta is cooking, add 1 inch slice of crumbled tofu, ½ cup grated zucchini, ¼ cup grated squash, and ¼ cup grated carrot to a large skillet coated with olive oil. Season with chili powder, paprika, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
3. Stir well and cook on medium heat for about 10 minutes.
4. When both the pasta and tofu-veggie topping are ready, drizzle some olive oil on the cooked pasta and scoop a serving into a bowl.
5. Add your veggie-tofu scramble topping.
6. Sprinkle some Daiya mozzarella cheese and a sprig of cilantro on top.
7. Enjoy! I paired my pasta with some GF vegan garlic onion toast (my imitation of breadsticks) and a glass of red vino! Cheers!