One of the perks of developing your own food line is being able to share your “finds” and “creations” with family and friends. Since starting Vervana, my holiday gifting has switched from organic pears to my own organic fares. So, it feels much more like my holiday and all-occasion gift giving are more like sharing a piece of health, heritage, home and my family’s traditions. And cooking and serving our favorite dishes at home is…well, it’s what makes home, “Home”, right?
With first-generation Italian dad “Charlie” in our New York kitchen, I was always front-and-center at the counter watching my grandfather teach my dad to make sauce and more -just as so many generations before them had done. So, nothing is more rewarding to me than when my Vervana food gifts turn into kitchen staples in the homes of their recipients.
My good friend, Al M. in Connecticut, is one such person. His kitchen is now stocked with our Vervana spices, olive oils, vinegars, pastas and risotto. And during the cold winter months, he too is relishing the traditional American comfort foods his parents and grandparents used to make when hunkering down was in order. Recently, Al texted us photos of his hearty, homemade “Goulash a la Vervana,” along with his personal recipe. My wife instantly recognized his creation as the American Goulash her Irish mom (one of 9 kids) used to whip up to feed the crowd.
Like chili, American Goulash (also known in New England as American Chop Suey) is traditionally made with meat, but can easily be modified to be vegetarian and even vegan. One way to do this is to make it with gluten-free red lentil pasta, which is naturally high in plant protein (ours is 15 grams per serving). Even if you’re not making a vegetarian or vegan dish, we recommend using a high-protein pasta like red lentil because you’ll get a healthier insulin response than with white semolina pasta. Al was out of our Organic Red Lentil Maccheroni, so he used his traditional “macaroni.” Feel free to use whichever pasta you like; just balance white pasta with more veggies, olive oil and protein from meat, cheese and/or beans to promote a healthy blood sugar response (more on blood sugar and food pairings in my The Pasta Diet e-book, which you can download here).
Like any good chef, Al just “knows” how much EVOO and spices he tosses in, but tried to estimate for you when giving his blessing to share this cold-weather, go-to comfort recipe. So, without further ado, from Al’s to our hearts to yours:
“One of our favorite dishes, especially on cold winter nights like last night. And, of course, made with your Vervana marinara (thank-you).” –AL
Al’s American Goulash a la Vervana Recipe
*OMNIVORE RECIPE* – see below for suggested vegetarian / vegan variations
- Olive oil (Al used Organic EVOO, but you could also use one of our crushed flavored olive oils)
- 2-3 organic bell peppers, diced
- 2 cloves (or 1 tsp chopped) garlic
- 1/3 to 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
- Optional: add additional chopped veggies (like zucchini, celery, onions, carrots, and even kale) for more veggie goodness
- Salt Blend (or any natural salt), to taste
- Pepper & Juniper Blend, to taste
- Herbs and spices, to taste (Al likes dried celery flakes; we recommend Italian Seasoning & Dipping Blend)
- 1 lb lean ground organic or grass fed beef (or lean ground turkey, bison, or ground meat blend)
- 1/3 to 2 cups of Organic Marinara Sauce (or Arrabbiatta, for some heat!)
- 1 package of Organic Red Lentil Pasta (or other pasta like macaroni, fusilli or penne)
- 1 C shredded organic mozzarella cheese
VEGETARIAN / VEGAN VERSION: Omit the ground meat and use red lentil pasta or add chickpeas, beans or vegan ground meat substitute. Also omit cheese if making a vegan-friendly dish.
Step 1 – Pasta Prep: Fill 3/4 of a large saucepan with filtered water, and heat on stove; this will shorten time need to boil the pasta water when ready to make the pasta.
Step 2 – Veggie Prep: Over medium heat, sauté the bell peppers, garlic and parsley in olive oil until the veggies are soft. Add salt, pepper, and any additional herbs and spices, to taste. Remove from heat and keep warm.
Step 3 – Meat Prep: In a separate pan over medium heat, sauté lean ground beef (or other meat) in olive oil until cooked through. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Drain excess oil/fat and set aside.
Step 4 – Make the Pasta: While the veggies and meat are moving along, turn up the heat on the pasta water until it boils and cook pasta according to package directions. When done, drain pasta and add back to saucepan.
Step 5 – Make the Goulash: In the pasta saucepan, combine the meat and vegetable sautés over low heat. Add desired amount of Organic Marinara or Arrabbiata Sauce (Al used 4 Tbsp; go with more -up to 2 cups- if you like more tomato sauce with your pasta dishes). Bring the heat to a simmer, add the drained pasta and stir until well mixed.
Serve topped with shredded mozzarella and garnish with additional parsley, if desired. We recommend enjoying with a fresh green salad or steamed veggies tossed with olive oil and Italian Seasoning & Dipping Blend.
We hope you enjoy putting your own touches on this hearty, cold-weather dish to warm your hearts, homes and tummies. Please feel free to share some of your favorite dishes made with Vervana ingredients….email them to us at email@example.com and we might feature it on our site!
From our hearts to yours,
Dr. Sinatra and the Vervana family
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