VCON On A Budget

When we got back from Vegas last month I had a serious need to curtail my spending until we got paid again.  But I also needed to eat.  So I poked around Veganomicon to see if I could find some recipes that made good use of what I already had in the house.

First, a CSA delivery from which many ingredients came.

red pepper, blueberries, apricots, peaches, Russian Banana potatoes, red onions, carrots and pattypan squash

green peppers, corn, basil, broccoli and lettuce

The first recipe I chose to make was Spaghetti & Beanballs, which I have been wanting to try forever.

I already had whole wheat fettuccine and a jar of sauce in the pantry (thought the fettuccine was actually spaghetti, but it doesn’t make much difference to me), so all I had to buy was a few ingredients for the beanballs.  The recipe calls for a 20 oz. can of beans, which I’m not sure I’ve ever seen, so I bought two 15 oz. cans and intended to increase the recipe accordingly.  Except then I forgot and added the normal amounts of everything but the beans, only remembering when I was mostly done forming the balls.  I briefly considered mushing all the balls together and adding the missing components, but I just wasn’t up for it so I crossed my fingers and threw ’em in the oven.  I was really worried they wouldn’t hold together very well since the amount of vital wheat gluten was lower than it should’ve been, but in the end they ended up holding together fine, if maybe just a little more squishy than normal.  I really liked the flavor of these little guys, and I’m sure next time when I make them correctly I’ll love the texture too.

The next cheap-ish meal I chose was the Roasted Portobello Salad.  Portobellos were actually on sale!

I left off the avocado that the recipe calls for because it was like $3 an avocado, and I was trying to keep the fat content down anyway.  I chose some spinach to go along with the lettuce I already had, and I really liked the combination of the juicy portobello, red onion and chickpeas.  Overall, though, I wasn’t a huge fan of this salad.  Something in it was much too vinegar-y and tangy for me, and I’m normally okay with a lot of vinegar.  I’m thinking it was the dressing.  I also thought the salad could use something crunchy, so I sprinkled sunflower seeds on the leftovers and that helped.

To go with the salad, I made the Lemony Roasted Potatoes.  Not a winner either!  The potatoes were undercooked, even with 10 extra minutes cooking time, and the sauce didn’t thicken up like it was supposed to.  I also thought the dish was too oily.  I’ve seen rave reviews for both these recipes, so I don’t know if I was in some sort of cooking funk that day or if they just weren’t right for me, but either way I probably won’t make either of these again.  The beanballs though, they are great!


  1. Kiersten said

    I really like the Lemon Roasted Potato recipe, but I’ve had them come out undercooked on me too. I found out the trick is to divide the mixture into pans instead of one. They seem to cook much better that way.

  2. Nora said

    I think I had a similar problem with those potatoes. I ended up broiling them for a bit at the end to make them crisp up.

  3. Sophie said

    this is so great! i really like making un-meatballs with chickpeas, it’s so tasty! sorry that the last 2 recipes weren’t what you were hoping for, sometimes recipes just don’t turn out even if you follow all the directions. there have been so many times when i have misread some baking instructions and it still turns out okay. so it can happen the other way as well.

  4. jessy said

    i’m sorry some of the v’con eatz were a little disappointing. although i too find that with some of the v’con recipes. some i super love, and others are just kinda “meh”. maybe i’m too much of a food critic or something! ahahahhahaa! i’m glad the bean balls were super tasty though – even with all those extra beans. i still have yet to try that recipe – i think i’m going to have to now! thanks, Erin!

  5. Vegetation said

    I haven’t tried any of these yet!! (I didn’t realize just how many V’Con recipes I haven’t tried!). I really need to try the beanballs!

    I’ve read lots of comments on the internets about people having problems with those potatoes and needing to cook them at least twice as long as the recipe said. It’s too bad because they sound super yummy!

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