a most lovely and exciting trio of delights to receive!
I'd seen Victoria Fine Food pasta sauces in the market for years, and a while ago I tried their Vegan White Bean Marinara sauce and really loved it -- so I was pretty jazzed when they offered to send me a few vegan pasta sauces to try out. Italian flavors are now and always will be my favorite.
When the glorious package arrived, it contained 3 jars of all-vegan sauce:
Vodka Sauce ~ Alfredo Sauce ~ Organic Toasted Garlic Sauce
woohoo! a beautiful box full of bounty to behold!
Victoria Organic Toasted Garlic Sauce with Kite Hill Ravioli
on my special Italian dish towel
I've been curious about the new ravioli from Kite Hill brand, and I thought they would give us a perfect opportunity to bust open our beautiful jar of Organic Toasted Garlic Sauce. I usually make my own marinara sauce, but I'm not at all opposed to using a jarred sauce -- so long as it's good! We have a system wherein we each taste the sauce before using it, to make sure it's good to go. This sauce got two thumbs up! I especially really, really love that the sauce didn't have any sugar in it. Sugar in pasta sauce is one of my top pet peeves!
two thumbs up!
This sauce was super tomatoey, bright and acidic (in all the right ways), with only the natural sweetness of tomatoes. I didn't think the garlic flavor was very pronounced, but I definitely loved it anyway and will plan on buying this flavor again. I also have an exponentially high appreciation for garlic, so other people's idea of "garlicky" probably don't even register on my tastebuds. Ha ha ...
As for the ravioli... meh. I bought one package of mushroom ravioli and one package of the spinach ravioli. I mean, they were good, but each carton was $8 and the flavor was easily overpowered by the (fortunately delicious) tomato sauce. It shouldn't really be like that. Plus, in one carton there were 10 ravioli, and the other one had 9. That night, we each had 4.5 ravioli for dinner. Sigh! I still really like the brand Rising Moon, and I've found their vegan ravioli to be much more flavorful and plentiful and much less pricey. So, I'm glad I tried the Kite Hill ravs, but I'll still to homemade or Rising Moon in the future.
Alfredo Veggie CasseroleFor whatever reason, I've never been a huge fan of straight up alfredo sauce on pasta, but I was curious about the Victoria Vegan Alfredo sauce... so I searched the good ol' interwebz for some inspiration ("what to do with alfredo sauce"). Ha ha. I saw a recipe for a veggie casserole, took that idea, and ran with it.
~ Vegan Alfredo Veggie Casserole Recipe ~First I chopped up one onion and slowly sauteed it with 1 tsp oil until the onion bits were pretty caramelized. While they were cooking, I chopped up about 1/2 of a large head of cauliflower, a small head of broccoli, and about 2 cups butternut squash. I put all the chopped veggies and the sauteed onions into a big casserole, along with 1.5 cups of the Victoria Vegan Alfredo Sauce and baked it at 400 for about 30 minutes or so -- until the veggies looked golden and the sauce was simmering.
I think of alfredo sauce as sort of impossibly thick and heavy, which this sauce isn't at all. The Victoria Vegan Alfredo Sauce is cashew-based and isn't actually all that rich or creamy. Using it in a casserole with a mountain of veggies was a great way to use this nutty sauce and still end up with a light dinner full of veggie power. I think that if you were looking for a super creamy sauce, I'd suggest boosting it with another 1/2 cup of homemade cashew cream. The cashew bits in the sauce were still noticeably present, not ground to a creamy oblivion. I think this must be a conscious choice, but made the sauce a little more textured than velvety, which is how I think of alfredo sauce. It was also super bright and almost lemon-y or white wine-y, although neither of those flavors are in the ingredients. Although it wasn't what I first expected, I did enjoy this sauce and this casserole a lot!
Stuffed Shells with Ricotta, Kabocha Squash, and Victoria Vegan Vodka Sauce
holy bonkers this was delicious
Oh em gee!! Bolstered by the success of my "what to do with alfredo sauce?" search, I turned next to the web for help with vodka sauce. ("what to do with vodka sauce?" ha ha) I'd never even heard of vodka sauce until I met Mr. VE&T (all those years ago!) and he was in love with it. But it wasn't vegan, and it was always served with salmon, so I never had a chance to taste it. Most of the internet suggestions were meaty, but I found one little reference in which someone mentioned that their local restaurant used vodka sauce over butternut squash and ricotta ravioli. Viola! There's an idea I could work with.
So, I concocted some Stuffed Shells with Vegan Vodka Sauce, which were absolutely fantastic! I had four for dinner, and I was looking forward to having some for leftovers the next day, but Mr. VE&T was super hungry and he ate all the rest ~ just like that! We both loved these so much, we were pretty much swooning our way through each bite. I can't wait to get my hands on more sauce and make this again! This sauce is super good and flavorful, and although I'm always a sucker for straight-up red sauce, I think this was my favorite sauce of all the ones we tried. Highly recommended!
Kabocha + Ricotta Stuffed Shells
20 large shell pasta (plus a few extras to account for ripping or tearing
300 grams cooked kabocha squash (steamed, roasted, or pressure cooked, and then mooshed up)
1 whole carton of Kite Hill almond ricotta (*worth every penny!)
1/2 tsp white pepper
1 tbsp white miso
1 tsp oil
8-10 button mushrooms
1/8 tsp black pepper
1.5 cups Victoria Vegan Vodka Sauce
Preheat your oven to 400F. Lightly oil a small/medium-sized casserole dish.
Get a big pot of water going over high heat. Once it's boiling, cook your pasta shells as directed on the package. Then drain and set aside.
In a medium bowl, mix together the Kite Hill Ricotta, the cooked Kabocha squash, the white pepper, and the white miso. Stir until integrated, but it doesn't need to be 100% combined (mostly just make sure that there aren't big miso chunks in there).
In a small pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, and saute until they release their moisture and begin to brown a bit. Once ready, add the black pepper, and transfer to a cutting board. Chop the mushrooms up into smaller bits. Then stir them into the squash-ricotta mix.
Pour a couple of tablespoons of the sauce into the bottom of the casserole dish and spread it around with a spatula or the back of a wooden spoon. Now, carefully smoosh about 2 tablespoons of the filling into each cooked pasta shell, and set them one by one into the prepared baking dish. Once they're all there, pour the remaining sauce evenly over all 20 stuffed shells. Baked uncovered at 400 for 40 minutes.
Thoughts on the sauces overall:
It turns out that Victoria Fine Foods is an old company (since 1929!), but they are unabashedly embracing the vegan market! I love that such a well-established non-vegan company has evolved and is enthusiastically offering a whole vegan line of products. It turns out that they have six amazing sauces in their Victoria Vegan line, and also many of their Premium sauces and organic sauces are also vegan!
These are the flavors in their Victoria Vegan line:
Vodka Sauce ~ Alfredo Sauce ~ Alfredo Artichoke Sauce
White Bean Marinara ~ Alfredo Arugula Pesto ~ Alfredo Red Pepper
In the Victoria Premium line, the following flavors are also vegan:
Tomato Basil* ~ Marinara* ~ Fradiavolo* ~ Roasted Garlic
Chianti Wine Marinara ~ Italian Veggie Marinara!
*regular and low-sodium varieties both vegan
I know for sure that the Toasted Garlic Organic sauce they sent me is also vegan, but the other organic sauces still don't have their ingredients listed online... so you'd have to look in the store. That said, they do a really good job with labeling their jars with all the appropriate logos ("vegan" "non-GMO verified" "gluten-free," and so on), so it shouldn't be hard to determine which are vegan and which aren't. I really appreciate that.
~ Giveaway! ~
Victoria also sent me some coupons, and instead of hoarding them all for myself, I'm going to do a giveaway with THREE WINNERS! The coupons expire in June, so it might be a good idea to make sure you can find their sauces where you live before winning! They have been expanding and are now available in loads of stores across Southern California and Florida too. Anyhow, leave a pasta-related or pasta-sauce-related comment here and I'll pick three winners next week.