Vegan Spaghetti Carbonara

Though I have no clue why, a few days ago I was seized with the idea of cooking a vegan carbonara—despite never having eaten carbonara in my life, vegan or otherwise. Perhaps I saw a recipe while perusing Pinterest and it lodged in my unconscious? Or maybe I’m just nostalgic for the Sims 2 and preparing a Goopy Carbonara for my hapless Sims? Who knows. But I had to try it.

I fully intended to follow an existing recipe for this pasta dish. I had no frame of reference for how it should taste, and I only vaguely understood the premise: add uncooked eggs (and maybe cheese?) to hot pasta; wait for eggs to cook through (but not scramble!) and create a rich “sauce” that clings to the pasta. Top with bacon? So I began researching how to make vegan carbonara.

But as I opened up tab after tab of vegan carbonara recipes, nothing seemed quite right. One recipe relied solely on silken tofu, which seemed like it would give a decent texture but would risk the end result tasting overpoweringly of soy. Another recipe used an entire half cup of Follow Your Heart’s VeganEgg—a product I appreciate in theory but am frequently disappointed with in practice—to get that clingy, eggy texture, which made sense, but I didn’t have a whole package of the product on hand. And a third recipe employed that ubiquitous vegan favorite, cashews, to add a nice rich mouthfeel, but that method seemed like it would create a more generic cream sauce, not carbonara. All these elements seemed useful in the end goal of creating a true carbonara, but not by themselves. I had to mix them.

Vegan pasta carbonara
And thus, my very own vegan carbonara. A small addition of the VeganEgg provides that clingy texture, cashews offer a creamy and slightly cheesy flavor, and a small amount of silken tofu adds bulk. I included black salt to approximate eggy flavor and threw in a few scoops of nutritional yeast for cheesiness. Topped with crispy bacon, my carbonara was a surprising and delicious success. It’s quite filling, too—I had leftovers for lunch the next day. Now that’s the measure of a true winner.

Vegan Carbonara

Serves 3-4

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, diced
  • 1/3 cup cashews, soaked for as long as your blender requires it
  • 2 T VeganEgg + 1/2 cup cold water
  • 7 oz soft silken tofu (half a vacuum-sealed block)
  • 1/4 cup almond milk (or other nondairy milk)
  • 2 T lemon juice
  • 1 T nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1 tsp kala namak (black salt; if you don’t have it, just use regular salt)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 pieces your favorite vegan bacon, chopped into small pieces (1/2″ or so)
  • 12 oz pasta
  • Parsley for serving (optional)

Method

Set your cashews soaking. If you have a high-powered blender, you can soak them briefly (I soaked mine while prepping the rest of the sauce); if not, be sure to start ahead of time as required by your blender.

In a small bowl, add the VeganEgg and the cold water and whisk forcefully until the powder is incorporated. Set aside.

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil on medium. Add the onions and sauté for about 5 minutes, then add the garlic. Cook for another 3 minutes or until the onions are translucent. Turn off the heat and set aside, but keep the pan on the stove for later.

At this point, start boiling a pot of water for your pasta.

Drain the cashews and add them to your blender, along with the VeganEgg mixture, silken tofu, cooked onions and garlic, almond milk, lemon juice, black salt, nooch, and a few grinds of pepper. Blend on high until all ingredients are thoroughly incorporated. Taste for salt and pepper and adjust seasonings as necessary. Set sauce aside.

Heat a small amount of oil in the pan you used for the onion and garlic and add the chopped bacon.

By now, the pasta water should be boiling. Add pasta and set a timer for al dente pasta, following the package’s instructions. As the pasta cooks, monitor the bacon. It should heat through and become somewhat crispy. When the bacon is done (about 7 minutes), you can either leave it in the pan (so that it mixes in with the pasta and sauce) or scoop it into a small bowl (so you can top the pasta with it). Either way, turn the heat off but leave the pan on the burner.

When the pasta is finished cooking, drain it and immediately add it to the hot pan. Pour the sauce over it and cook for about 4-5 minutes on low heat, using a spatula to coat all the pasta. When the sauce starts clinging to the pasta and darkening a bit in color, it’s ready. Serve topped with bacon and parsley (if using) and a few more grinds of fresh pepper. Enjoy!

Notes

  • I used Sweet Earth Natural Foods‘ Benevolent Bacon, but you can go with any brand you prefer. You could also make your own crumbles from tofu or tempeh, although a fattier product works best here—the fat released in cooking helps everything cling together at the end.
  • If you don’t have the VeganEgg on hand, I think you can forgo it. You’ll just lose some of that clingy, eggy texture. Feel free to experiment with other ingredients in its place!
  • I used linguine for my pasta, but spaghetti and rigatoni are also common choices.
  • A quality vegan parmesan would be a perfect addition here. If you have it, swap it for the nooch and use as much as you need to get a nice cheesy flavor.
  • Timing is important here; you want the spaghetti to be nice and hot when you add the sauce. For that reason, make sure to follow the steps as written.

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Vegan pasta carbonara // govegga.com

Note: This post contains an affiliate link. If you purchase something through my link, it costs nothing extra for you, but I get a few pennies to help cover hosting costs.

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Smoky Vegan Black Bean Chili

This is a recipe that truly surprised me. After a whirlwind long weekend with family in town (my mom, my sister, and my two adorable—but energetic!—little nephews), I wanted to make something quick and easy for dinner last Monday night after our houseguests rolled out. Chili seemed like just the ticket. Without much fanfare and without trying to fancy it up, I quickly whipped up a batch of black bean chili. And it turned out to be one of the best chilis I’ve made in a while, despite having minimal ingredients. Smoky, hearty, richly flavored and beautifully textured, this chili is going to become a mainstay in my dinner repertoire.

Smoky, Spicy Vegan Black Bean Chili // govegga.com

The secret? Two simple techniques:

  • Use fewer spices, but more of them—lots of cumin and coriander provide rich flavor.
  • Don’t rinse the beans! Instead, leave them in their aquafabulous coating. This makes for a gorgeously thick sauce that holds everything together and binds the flavor.

My only regret? That I didn’t have enough ingredients on hand to make even more chili! This is a small batch, so feel free to double it. (I’d recommend not immediately doubling the serrano pepper and chili powder; instead, taste for spice and go from there.) You could also omit the mushrooms if you’re not a fan, but I really enjoyed how their soft texture played against the beans.

Smoky Vegan Black Bean Chili

Makes about 4 servings

  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced small
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8-10 cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 serrano chili, minced
  • 1 heaping tsp cumin
  • 1 heaping tsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp Mexican oregano
  • 1/2 tsp smoky chili powder
  • 15 oz tomato sauce
  • 15 oz fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1 32-oz can black beans (Drain (and save!) the aquafaba, but do not rinse the beans themselves; you’ll add them directly from the can with whatever aquafaba remains)

Method

In a large stockpot, heat a tablespoon or so of olive oil over medium heat, then add the onion. Sauté for about 5 minutes or until the onion softens and becomes translucent. Add the mushrooms and let cook for another 3 minutes, then add the garlic and serrano chili. Sauté for another 3 minutes, then add the spices (cumin, coriander, oregano, and chili powder) and stir to coat. Cook for another 30 seconds, then add the tomato sauce, fire-roasted tomatoes, and black beans. Bring to a gentle boil, then simmer for at least 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Taste for spice and salt, then serve with your favorite chili toppings!

Notes

  • I used piment d’espelette, a really lovely chili powder my brother and his girlfriend got me for Christmas from a Seattle spice shop they frequent. You can find piment d’espelette on Amazon or just use whatever chili powder you have on hand.
  • I didn’t add extra salt because the tomato sauce and fire-roasted tomatoes I used contained salt. Your mileage may vary; check your brand of tomatoes and adjust salt accordingly.

PIN IT

Smoky, Spicy Vegan Black Bean Chili // govegga.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something through my links, it costs nothing extra for you, but I get a few pennies. I’m not looking to make a fortune, just to cover hosting costs. :)

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Oven-Baked Sweet Potato and Kale Patties

Happy 2017, pals! After the craziness of Vegan MoFo in November, I went 100% radio silent in December. What can I say? The holidays are always so busy, and since November was a mad rush of cooking, baking, recipe-writing, photographing, and blogging, I was pretty much spent when it ended. Let’s just call it a hiatus and move on!

I nearly always enter a new year with a few weeks of vegan cookie binging behind me, ready to incorporate just a little more good green food into my diet. It’s not that I don’t eat healthy foods during the holidays (I think I’ve eaten my weight in clementines in the past month!), but I tend to also eat lots of baked goods and indulgences. January seems like a natural time to re-calibrate and reset my eating patterns. Is it a resolution? Nah, just an intention to include more nourishing ingredients in my meals.

So in that spirit, today I bring you some simple oven-baked veggie patties, inspired by the sweet potato and mung bean croquettes I made a few years back. This recipe again features sweet potatoes as a base, but it also incorporates a handful of steamed kale and some crumbled tempeh for extra protein. I kept the flavors simple — fresh ginger, soy sauce, and curry powder — but you can add whatever spices appeal to you. The final step (brushing the patties with melted coconut oil and broiling for a few minutes) adds a little crunch and some extra flavor, but it’s totally optional; feel free to omit it if you’re cutting down on added fats.

Baked Sweet Potato and Kale Patties // vegan // govegga.com

Baked Sweet Potato and Kale Patties

Makes 12 patties

  • 1.5 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 block tempeh, crumbled into small pieces
  • About 2 cups kale, chopped finely (measure loosely after slicing)
  • 1/3 cup scallions, sliced thin (measure after slicing)
  • 1/4 C coconut flour (or other flour; coconut adds a little nutty flavor)
  • 1.5 T freshly grated ginger
  • 1.5 T soy sauce
  • 1/2 T curry powder
  • 1/2 T coconut oil, melted (optional)

Method

Begin by steaming the tempeh and the chopped sweet potatoes for about 15 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are fork tender. While they’re steaming, you can finely chop the kale and slice the scallions. Set both aside.

When the potatoes are done, add them and the tempeh to a large mixing bowl. Let them cool slightly while you steam the kale just until soft, about 3 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400˚F and spray a baking sheet with oil (or line with parchment paper).

Using a wooden spoon, mash the sweet potatoes and tempeh mixture. Add the scallions, ginger, coconut flour, soy sauce, curry powder, and kale, and mix thoroughly. Then use your hands to form about 1/4 cup of the mixture into patties about 2″ across and 3/4″ thick; you should have enough of the mixture to make 12 patties. Place on the prepared sheet.

Bake for 30 minutes, then brush the patties with the melted coconut oil and broil for 5 minutes, just until they start to brown. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.

~~~

These soft fork-tender patties are best eaten drizzled with your favorite sauce, alongside a big helping of veggies. You could try this peanutty coconut sauce or this similar curried version.

PIN IT

Baked Sweet Potato and Kale Patties // vegan // govegga.com

Note: This post contains an affiliate link. If you purchase something through my links, it costs nothing extra for you, but I get a few pennies. I’m not looking to make a fortune, just to cover hosting costs. :)

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Hearty, Protein-Rich Veggie Stew

VeganMoFo 2016 graphic

Week Three: Rainbow Week

A coworker recently asked for suggestions of bulk lunch ideas — things she could make and freeze and have ready. I’ll admit I was stumped for a minute. What do I even eat for lunch!?  Sure, I have a few sandwich recipes, but my typical workday lunches are much simpler, usually a cobbled-together assortment of snacks or leftovers. But then my brain jump-started itself and I realized that most of my lunches are exactly what she was looking for: recipes made in bulk(ish), often for dinner, then saved and eaten as leftovers for lunch. It doesn’t get much easier than that.

Hearty, protein-rich vegan veggie stew // govegga.com

Take, for example, this hearty veggie stew (that just happens to be bright red — perfect for rainbow week). I grabbed a few fridge and pantry items and combined them to make a super-filling, protein-rich stew that keeps you surprisingly satiated, thanks in part to bulgur wheat and TVP. It’s a versatile recipe you can adjust based on what’s in the house, though I highly recommend adding the whole cherry tomatoes if you have them — they add a beautiful pop of acidic flavor. (My tomato plants soldiered on well into this unusually warm fall, and I’ve still got some sitting on my counter!) It’s a disarmingly simple stew, but the addition of sharp paprika gives it a nice little kick.

This is one of those simple meals that I tend to overlook when planning dinner (and its resultant leftover lunches).  After all, it’s “just” a vegetable stew. But it’s also incredibly nutritious and immensely flavorful. Just the ticket as we move in to the winter and start craving warmth.

Hearty Veggie Stew

Serves 6

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced roughly
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dried)
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • Half a cabbage, sliced into ribbons about 2″ long
  • 5-6 cremini mushrooms, sliced or chopped into chunks (optional)
  • 3 large carrots, sliced into half-moon rounds
  • 1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 can white beans
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup TVP
  • 1/2 cup bulgur wheat (or additional TVP)
  • 1 cup veg broth (I use Better Than Bouillon Reduced-Sodium Vegetable Base)
  • Salt and pepper to taste (depending on the saltiness of your veg broth)

Method

Heat oil in a large stock pot over low-medium heat, then add the garlic. Sauté for a minute but do not let burn. Add the spices and stir to coat the garlic, then add the cabbage and carrots. Turn the heat up to medium and sauté for another 5 minutes before adding the crushed tomatoes and white beans. Cook for another 3 minutes, then add the remaining ingredients except salt and pepper. Simmer the stew for at least 15 minutes, but ideally longer, until all ingredients are soft. Salt and pepper to taste, then eat.

Notes

  • Feel free to sub other veggies for the carrots and cabbage — this is just what I had on hand. You could also add some leafy greens at the end if you’d like.
  • For a spicier stew, add a dash of cayenne pepper.
  • To stretch this recipe and bulk it up even further, add 1 – 1 1/2 cups cooked small pasta to the finished stew. Ditalini works great!

PIN IT

Hearty, protein-rich vegan veggie stew // govegga.com

Vegan Hand-Raised Meat Pies

VeganMoFo 2016 graphic

Week Two: International Week

If you read the title and thought, “Hmm, someone’s been watching The Great British Bake Off,” you’ve got it! Steven and I spent the past few months binging on all seven seasons, and I’m so very sad it’s ended for good. One positive note? I now have a massive list of British bakes to veganize and master! Perfect for international week. (Given yesterday’s recipe for Irish farls, it seems like I’m working my way across the British Isles!)

I recently tried my hand at vegan meat pies made with a hot water crust pastry. Lacking a pastry dolly (of course Paul Hollywood has a branded one for sale!), I wrapped my pastry around a glass and it worked just fine. My filling is relatively simple, just homemade seitan and lots of veggies, but you could use vegan sausage or beef crumbles and complementary vegetables.

Vegan Hand-Raised Meat Pies // govegga.com

Be sure to read through the recipe before beginning — hot water crust pastry can be temperamental, and you need your filling ready to go before you start the pastry. As it cools, it becomes difficult to work with.

Hand-Raised Seitan and Veggie Pies

Makes six pies

For the pie filling

  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 1 leek, diced
  • 1 cup seitan, diced
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp sage
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 T vegan Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 T ketchup

For the hot water crust

  • Follow the directions here. I added dried sage to my crust for a little extra flavor.

Method

First, prepare the filling. Heat olive oil in a saucepan on medium, then add onions and sauté for about 3 minutes. Add garlic, carrot, and leek and sauté for another 5 minutes or until all veggies are soft. Add the spices and seitan and cook for another 2 minutes, then stir in the Worcestershire sauce and ketchup. Turn off stove but leave on the burner.

Next, preheat your oven to 425˚F and prepare your hot water crust pastry according to the instructions here. Working quickly, use a small drinking glass (about 3″ diameter) to mark the base of the pie (don’t cut out this smaller circle), and use a knife to cut a rough circle around it — add about 1″ extra, for a circle about  4″ in diameter. Wrap the pastry around the drinking glass to form the pie crusts.

For the lids/tops, cut circles a little larger than the diameter of the pie crusts. (You can use another drinking glass if necessary.) Cut a small hole or slash in the tops. Place all raised crusts on a baking sheet. Add filling to the pie crusts, all the way to the top, then place the pie lids on top. Wet your fingers and gently crimp the crust to attach the lids.

Optionally, brush with an aquafaba wash before baking. You can also use pastry leftovers to add decorative leaves, etc.

Bake for 35 minutes or until pastry is golden-brown. Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes before eating.

Notes

  • Brushing the pastry crust with aquafaba will give it a nice shine akin to an egg wash. Alas; I was out of aquafaba the day I made these!
  • Feel free to experiment with the fillings — the crust is pretty good at holding it in, so something saucier would likely work just fine.

PIN IT

Vegan Hand-Raised Meat Pies // govegga.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Note: If you’re in the United States, I sincerely hope you’re voting today… and not supporting a candidate who represents the worst of humanity.

Fully Loaded Vegan Colcannon

VeganMoFo 2016 graphic

Week One: Treat Yourself (and others)!

Treat yourself… to mashed potatoes for dinner!

Vegan colcannon: fully loaded mashed potatoes // govegga.com

If you’re anything like me, you relish any opportunity to chow down on mashed potatoes. I think it’s unfortunate that they’re typically treated as a side dish instead of a main or a meal in their own right. Enter colcannon, the Irish dish featuring mashed potatoes and kale or cabbage… or both! My version of colcannon is chock-full of veggies, with just enough vegan butter and plant milk to make it nice and creamy. I also add a few tablespoons of vegan mayo. Sounds crazy (and kinda weird), but it you don’t taste it at all, and it ups the creamy factor. You can certainly leave it out if you’d prefer. Either way, these vegan mashed potatoes are a meal unto themselves. Treat yourself!

Vegan colcannon: fully loaded mashed potatoes // govegga.com

Fully Loaded Colcannon

  • 2.5 lbs of your favorite mashing potatoes, chopped roughly
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 2 shallots, sliced thinly
  • 1/2 head cabbage, sliced thinly
  • 5 large kale leaves, roughly shredded or sliced into ribbons
  • 1/3 cup non-dairy milk
  • 2 T vegan butter
  • 1 T vegan mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Measure out the almond milk and let it come to room temperature while you cook.

Add water to a large stockpot and heat on the stove. While the water is coming to a boil, chop the potatoes. You can peel them first, but I like to leave the skins on. When they’re ready, add them to the stockpot (whether it’s boiling or not). When it comes to a rolling boil, reduce the heat and let gently boil for 15-20 minutes.

While the potatoes are cooking, heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat, then add the shallots and sauté for 3-4 minutes, just until they start turning golden. Add the cabbage and a sprinkle of salt and stir to coat with oil. Cook for another 5-7 minutes or until the cabbage starts getting tender. If necessary, add a little water to the pan to prevent the cabbage from sticking. Add the kale to the pan and cook for another 5 minutes, then turn off the heat.

Check the potatoes. When they’re fork-tender, drain them and add to a large mixing bowl. Using a potato ricer, masher, or your favorite tool, mash away! Add the butter early on so it melts right in, then add the almond milk and vegan mayonnaise once everything starts getting creamy.  Add spices to taste; you can also add more butter, milk, and mayo to taste. Finally, fold in the kale and cabbage mixture. Taste for salt and pepper and season as necessary.

Enjoy for dinner, and have the leftovers for lunch the next day!

Notes

  • Your average Idaho or russet potato works beautifully, but I’ve used golden potatoes and they work just fine.
  • Feel free to mix in seitan or bacon bits for added flavor and protein.
  • Go wild with the creamy ingredients to taste. I won’t judge!
  • You can reserve the cooking liquid to add back in as you mash. I don’t do this often, but it certainly works for a less fatty option.
  • Colcannon is traditionally eaten by itself, without gravy, but if you want to add some, I won’t tell. Opt for a recipe with lots of umami.

PIN IT!

Vegan colcannon: fully loaded mashed potatoes // govegga.com

Spicy Vegan Chorizo Pasta

Do you have a favorite convenience food product? A go-to, gotta-have-it-in-the-fridge ingredient that you can’t pass up at the grocery store?

Mine might well be Trader Joe’s soy chorizo. It’s so damn tasty and versatile! With just the right kick of heat, it’s a perfect protein-rich accompaniment to lots of recipes. I typically use it in a quick and easy potato and pepper hash with lots of onions and garlic. It’s a simple dish that makes a superb savory side for brunch, or even a quick dinner.

Recently, though, I decided to try something different with my chorizo and pair it with pasta instead. I’m so glad I did! The result was a spicy, belly-filling dinner that left both Steven and me well-sated. Another benefit? Unlike saucier pasta dishes, this one reheats well because there’s very little moisture to make the pasta soggy. Bam — tomorrow’s lunch is ready now.

I leave the cherry tomatoes whole because I love the way they burst as you eat them, giving a little acidity to the dish. If you only have large tomatoes, feel free to chop them into small pieces and use those.

If you’re looking askance at the inclusion of coconut milk, rest assured you can’t taste it. In fact, when Steven was cleaning up up after dinner, he asked me why there was an open can of coconut milk in the kitchen — and was thoroughly surprised when I told him that it was part of the meal he’d just eaten.

Spicy Vegan Chorizo Pasta // govegga.com

Spicy Vegan Chorizo Pasta

Serves 3-4, depending on how hungry you are

  • 8 oz. whole wheat penne (okay, fine, you can use white pasta if you prefer!)
  • ~1 T olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, sliced into thin half-moons
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 package TJ’s soy chorizo
  • 1/2 pint grape or cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup coconut cream (from the top of a can of full-fat coconut milk)
  • Optional: chopped roasted red peppers, handful of kale (roughly shredded)

First, start heating your pasta water. At the same time, heat the olive oil over medium and add the onion. Sauté for about 5 minutes, or until the onions start to become translucent, then add the garlic and tomatoes. Cook for another minute, then add the soy chorizo. (This can get messy — I recommend slicing it in half right through the package, then slicing the chorizo casing lengthwise with a knife and squeezing it into the pan.)If using kale or roasted red peppers, add now. Sauté for another 2-3 minutes and turn the heat down to low.

Meanwhile, if the water is boiling, add the pasta and cook according to package instructions. Al dente pasta works best here. When it’s ready, drain it and set aside.

Just before adding the pasta, pour in the coconut cream and stir to combine. Add the pasta and mix throughly, so the sauce coats the pasta. Let sit for about one more minute before serving.

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Spicy Vegan Chorizo Pasta // govegga.com

HOUSEKEEPING

A couple notes before you go:

  • Go Vegga now has a Facebook page! Check it out here if you’re so inclined. I only post 2-3 times a week, so no worries about flooding your timeline.
  • Traveling and veganism are two of my passions, so I’ve just started a Pinterest board focused on vegan travel options. Give it a follow if you’d like a comprehensive resource for how to find vegan food on the go. (I’ve got lots of other great vegan-themed boards too; you can peruse them here.)
  • The Vegan Month of Food (aka Vegan MoFo) starts November 1st! Get ready for a whole month of daily food posts. This will be my eighth (!!!) year participating!