The whole family should enjoy this quick, hassle-free meal. You can have it ready in the time it takes to boil the water and cook the pasta. I used rotini (Dreamfield’s) because that’s what I had in the pantry, but elbows are traditional. The addition of nutritional yeast lends a cheesy richness, and the fresh herbs add brightness. You can use some other meatless ground instead of TVP if you prefer, in which case just brown it along with the peppers and onions.


8 ounces pasta of your choice

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 bell pepper, red or green, diced

½ sweet white onion, diced

2 large garlic cloves, minced

14-ounce can diced tomatoes

14-ounce can tomato sauce or puree

1 tsp. vegetarian beef base, such as Better Than Bouillon No Beef Base

1 tsp. gravy base, such as Gravy Master or Kitchen Bouquet

1 tsp. paprika, smoked or regular

½ tsp. dried oregano

¼ to ½ tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)

1 cup textured vegetable protein (TVP – Bob’s Red Mill makes this; Reny’s has it)

¼ cup nutritional yeast

¼ cup chopped fresh basil leaves

¼ cup chopped fresh parsley leaves

Basil or parsley sprigs for garnish


1. Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain it, reserving ½ cup cooking water.

2. In a large sauté pan, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the peppers and onions. Cook and stir for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.

3. Add the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, beefless base, gravy base, paprika, oregano, red pepper flakes (if using), TVP, and nutritional yeast. Turn the heat to low, cover the pan, and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4. Add the cooked pasta to the sauté pan, along with enough pasta water to make the proper saucy consistency. Taste for salt.

5. Stir in the basil and parsley. Garnish individual servings with herb sprigs.

Wendy Andresen lives in Camden with her husband, Ray; her Sheltie, Sunshine; and her bunny, Rustle. She welcomes responses to her column at