Ah, all the childhood memories. Sitting on the living room floor with Mr Rogers’s calm voice welcoming me and every other kid to the neighborhood. A cold glass of Kool-Aid served in a Welch’s jam jar. Teddy Ruxpin chillin’ in the corner just waiting for a new battery or to have his cassette re-wound. High tops and a nearly filled Book-It pin. And, of course, a warm bowl of SpaghettiOs to complete this iconic image.
If you’re like me you have an odd affinity with these mass produced food products that you enjoyed in your childhood. Food is one of the strongest memory inducers because it connections all of your senses. When you smell a certain orange scent you remember mixing a glass of Tang, or you get the right combo of garlic and oregano and you’re transported back to that dark booth at Pizza Hut with your personal pan in front of you. As an adult we long to go back to simpler times when all you had to worry about was which color Slap-Bracelet to wear that day. But if you’re vegan or shy away from mass produced food products that trip down memory lane isn’t going to happen.
Well. That is until now! For whatever reason I was craving SpaghettiOs one day. Like. It was a need. It’s not that the stuff from the can is awesome, but maybe I needed a little childhood comfort and that’s what my brain said it wanted for that trip into the 80s and 90s. With a little kitchen tinkering and a lot of batches of trial and error I’ve nailed the SpaghettiO flavor and it’s made with all real ingredients! There’s a whole lot of plant power in each bowl and you can easily swap the noodle for a GF variety or skip the noodles and toss in white beans and more veggies. Isn’t this just tomato soup? Naw. SpaghettiOs have a distinct flavor that comes from a blend of simple spices and combining milk with tomato and a lot of sugar. To skip the sugar I resorted to the natural sweetness of carrots! They give the bowl that iconic color plus you get fiber, vitamins, and just enough sweet to pull it off.
This whole meal only takes about 30 minutes to put together. You can do it all in a single pot with no noodle draining but I ended up cleaning my kitchen ceiling attempting it. I’d advise against that unless you really like tomato stains all over your kitchen. In the recipe directions and notes I explain the whole process. It’s certainly a kid friendly meal and one of the most recommended by my kids, but it is delicious and will satisfy adults too. Tweak it, play with it, settle into nostalgia, and enjoy a bowl of SpaghettiOs that you made from scratch at home!
- Immersion blender or upright blender
- 4 medium carrots, diced (About 2 cups total)
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 2 tablespoons vegan butter (I used Earth Balance)
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 teaspoons paprika (Not smoked or hot)
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt (Can be omitted )
- 1 teaspoon pure maple syrup (Don't skip this! )
- 1/2 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk (I used oat milk)
- 1-2 cups vegetable broth (Can sub in water)
- 4 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 1 tablespoon yellow/mellow miso (Can omit but adds more flavor)
- 28 ounces diced or crushed tomatoes
- 2 cups large ring noodles (Half of a box)
- Bring 6 cups of water to a boil and cook the ring noodles for 5 minutes. The box will say 10 but you only want to cook for half that. Drain the noodles, rinse them with cold water, and rinse out the pot. I know that you might be cringing at the idea of rinsing noodles, but remember we are making SpaghettiOs here and not going for 5 star dining.
- Melt the vegan butter in the pot and stir in the onion and carrots. Cook for 2 minutes or until the onions become translucent. Pour in the 1/2 cup water, cover the pot, and heat over medium-high for 5 minutes. Stir in the remainder of the ingredients, except the noodles, and bring to a heat until bubbles form. Reduce heat to medium and cook while occasionally stirring for 10 minutes.
- Transfer to a blender, making sure to follow your blender's instructions for blending hot liquid, and puree until smooth. The easier method is to use an immersion blender because then you can puree right in the pot!
- Mix in the cooked noodles and heat over medium heat while stirring for 3-5 minutes. Add more water or stock as necessary for desired consistency. Serve and enjoy!
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