Italian Cooking & Language Blog

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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Spaghetti with a Cali Twist: Gluten-Free, Vegan by Guest Blogger Chloe Lauer

Thanks to Chloe Lauer for today’s gluten-free, vegan twist on a classic Italian dish. She is a health coach, urban planner, and yogi in San Francisco, CA. Chloe gathers cooking inspiration from what is beautiful and fresh at the weekly farmer’s market, and from memories of favorite childhood meals. For more recipes, check out her blog, Zest For Life Today.

Spaghetti is a classic Italian dish. For many, it evokes feelings of comfort -- memories of family meals shared around a table, or, perhaps, reminiscences of a cherished time abroad, savoring the flavors and scents of authentic Italy. Either way, thoughts of spaghetti bring smiles to our faces.

What happens when one discovers an allergy to wheat or chooses to eat a diet free from animal products, for whatever reason? Are we to forsake the very foods that bring us joy?

Do not fret, my friends. There is magic in the air – it’s called….(drum roll)…the spaghetti squash! When cooked, what looks like your average squash transforms into long, thin strands that quite resemble noodles! While they have a crunchier texture than wheat pasta, the experience of eating this squash can satisfy even the most entrenched comfort-food cravings.

Are you ready to give it a go?

Ingredients (local and organic preferred; all measurements approximate):

1 spaghetti squash

¼ cup olive oil

½ cup chopped white onion

½ cup grated carrots

1.5 cups sliced brown button mushrooms

2 cups sliced tomatoes

1 cup organic marinara sauce (optional – feel free to use more tomatoes instead)

¼ cup red wine

1.5 cups shredded kale

2 tablespoons dried oregano (or finely chopped fresh)

2 tablespoons dried basil (or finely chopped fresh)

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Preparing the squash:

Heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut the squash in half and remove the stingy middle portion containing the seeds (you can save the seeds to roast – makes a good snack). Place each half face down in an inch of water in your baking dish. (You may need to use two dishes, as I did, if yours are on the smaller side.) Bake for about 45 minutes, or until you can easily push a fork through the outer skin. Drain the water out of the dish. With a fork, pull the flesh of the squash out – it will turn into spaghetti-like strands. Set aside.

Preparing the sauce:

Chop the onion, shred the carrots and kale, and slice the mushrooms and tomatoes. Get out the olive oil, marina, and herbs. Heat a frying pan to medium-high heat. Add the olive oil, onions, and carrots. Sauté until the onions are transparent. Add the mushrooms and cover for a minute or two. Then add the tomatoes, marina sauce, red wine and herbs. Cover again and simmer until the tomatoes are soft and the liquid of the wine is cooked down. Finally, add the kale and simmer just until the kale is a vibrant green. Don’t overcook the greens.

Putting it all together:

Dish up the spaghetti squash into bowls. Top with a generous portion of sauce. Finish with sea salt and pepper to taste. If you’re not vegan, feel free to add Parmesan cheese!


Take a deep breath. Observe the beauty of what you have prepared. Feel the steam on your face. Smell the fresh scents of delicious, healthy nourishment…slowly, take your first bite. Chew thoughtfully. What do you think? Does this gluten-free, vegan twist satisfy your need for Italian comfort food? Or does it belong in another category entirely? Please share your experiences!

1 comment:

Cathleen Diane said...

I am eager to try this variation. Thanks, Chloe, for your inspiring approach!