Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Vegan/Vegetarian Goulash

I grew up having goulash on a fairly regular basis.  It was cheap, simple to make and it tasted good. Coming from a family of seven, that was important.

Goulash - or as they sometimes call it here in
New England,  American Chop Suey
I've since learned that there are LOTS of different types of goulash.  I also learned when I moved to New England that some folks here call it "American chop suey".  I'm betting there are lots of names for it that I've never heard of, but the important piece goes back to the "cheap, simple to make and tastes good" part.

In the past, I've always made this with a combination of hamburger and sweet italian sausage.  Since my wife recently went back to being a vegetarian, I frequently cook two versions of meals but this time I decided to just cook one and see if my kids could even tell the difference.

They couldn't.  Neither could I.  Generally, I can definitely tell the difference - I may like the vegetarian/vegan version of something, but I can tell them apart.  This time I really couldn't.  It tasted like the version I make with real meat.

If you're entertaining someone that doesn't eat meat, this would be a great option for everyone at the table.  If one of your guests needs gluten-free meals, you could quite easily accommodate them as well by using gluten-free pasta.

I'll warn you ahead of time that although I'm using only a pound of pasta and that doesn't sound like much, this makes a LOT.  Feel free to cut back and make less. There were four of us eating and we had enough left for easily three more meals.

Also, many of the ingredients in this recipe I mark as "optional".  They truly are.  This particular recipe reflects my tastes but don't be afraid to change it however you'd like to meet YOUR tastes and those of your family.  There are no right or wrongs - just season to your tastes and it will be perfect!


  • 1 pound elbow macaroni 
  • 1 package Boca ground crumbles (Boca brand is vegan - most others I've looked at are vegetarian but not vegan.  Use whichever brand you prefer)
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, chopped (optional - we don't care for them in our house, but I know lots of folks like them)
  • 1 small onion, chopped 
  • 1 (28-ounce) jar spaghetti sauce (if you make your own sauce, awesome - if not, any kind of sauce you like will work just fine)
  • 1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes (I generally get the ones with basil and garlic - any kind you like is fine)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (optional)
  • basil leaves, chopped (optional)
  • oregano leaves, chopped  (optional)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil (preferably garlic infused)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder 
  • 2 tbsp italian sausage seasoning (optional - we buy this from Penzey's Spices)
  • 1 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper


  1. Following package directions, prepare the macaroni and set aside
  2. Pour the jar of sauce and the tomatoes into a large pan, stir and heat up (if you like your goulash a bit more "saucey", feel free to add more than one jar of sauce)
  3. While the sauce is heating, add the olive oil to a skillet then add the onions (and peppers, if using them) and saute until they are just starting to brown (approximately five minutes).  Just before they are finished, add the minced garlic (you don't want to add it too early or it could burn)
  4. Add the Boca crumbles in with the onions and garlic.  If they are still frozen, you'll have to heat them for a few minutes to let them thoroughly heat up.  If they are thawed, it will only take a minute or two to get them heated up.
  5. Add the crumbles/onions mixture to the sauce.
  6. Add in any seasonings you may want to use (garlic powder, salt pepper, basil leaves, oregano, etc.) and stir well (we LOVE the italian sausage seasoning that you get at Penzey's.  They have hot or sweet and I think using it in this dish adds a LOT of flavor)
  7. Mix this all together, then add in the macaroni and stir well.
  8. When it's all finished, it should look something like the picture above.  
  9. Let it simmer for a few minutes so the flavors have time to come together.
  10. Serve with your favorite vegetables and garlic bread and enjoy!


  1. So i have been a vegetarian for about 4 years now, and while I don't miss meat, goulash brings back childhood memories for me. I'm also on the lookout for good easy meals because, although I lo e to cook from scratch, I work full time and have two young sons so time is not always on my side. all of that to say this is a great easy recipe and will definitely stay on my list!! Your comments on the boca crumbles encouraged me to try them. Thanks!!!!

  2. Thank you! Very glad to hear you liked it! You should take a look at the vegetarian "beef" stroganoff as well - it's a huge hit in my family, even with the meat eaters!

  3. Loved this recipe!

  4. Thank you for sharing this recipe. I made it last night and my family loved it. I thought we were going to have a lot of leftovers seeing that it made a big pot, and with only three people eating, but I hardly had any. My family was either really hungry or really overate, or both. Out of curiosity, what would you say the serving size is for this dish? Next time I make it I will hopefully have better control over how much they take.