Confession time! I was a terrible cook when I first moved out on my own. It wasn’t due to a lack of role models or experience, because as a kid I spent tons of time watching my mom cook delicious and healthy dinners. I think it was just a lack of practice with the day to day part of feeding myself.
So my inexperience led me to eat a lot of pretty disturbing things as an undergrad. My favourite dinner EVER was these President’s Choice frozen breaded macaroni and cheese nuggets. So horrifying processed but so so good. I also ate a lot of Kraft Dinner, as every good Canadian university student does. And my favourite discovery was probably Hamburger Helper. Growing up in a health-conscious, vegetarian household, I’d never tried it before. But I would substitute with fake ground beef and I just loved it.
And OK, this version uses some processed foods. But I am willing to beat that there is way less sodium in this version than in the original – especially if you go with no-salt-added tomatoes and use a light hand when seasoning everything. And it really takes no time at all.
Vegetarian Cheeseburger Macaroni
I used the pre-seasoned version of veggie ground beef (it’s all my grocery store carries!), but I’ve written the recipe so you can season it yourself and buy the plain kind.
- 1 28 ox can of diced tomatoes
- 1 tbsp chili powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp Better Than Bouillon or 1 bouillon cube
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup dry macaroni
- 1 package of vegetarian ground beef (I used Yves but President’s Choice makes a good one too!)
For the cheese sauce:
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp flour
- 1 cup 2% milk (I used whole just because it was what I had)
- 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
In a large pot, pour in the canned tomatoes and add 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil and add pasta, spices, bouillon and salt. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently so the pasta doesn’t stick together.
While the pasta is cooking, make the cheese sauce. Melt the butter over medium heat, then whisk in the flour. Cook until the mixture is bubbling, then add the milk and whisk until smooth. Let cook for a few minutes until thickened. Once the mixture can coat the back of a spoon nicely, add the grated cheese and stir until melted.
Once the macaroni is cooked, remove the pot from heat and add the vegetarian ground beef, stirring to ensure it is thoroughly heated. Add the cheese sauce, stir and serve!