Spaghetti Squash Puttanesca

What is Puttanesca, you might ask? I found myself wondering the same thing when I was flipping through “The Everyday Squash Cook” by Rob Firing, Ivy Knight, and Kerry Knight. This Canadian cookbook covers many uses for squash and includes vegetarian, vegan, and omnivorous dishes. It wasn’t until I had made the recipe that I discovered that puttanesca apparently means whore, so this dish translates to Spagetti Squash made by a whore…. I don’t find that very flattering, but the dish is great. Spaghetti Puttanesca is traditionally tangy, made with olives and capers.

The exciting part about this cookbook is learning tips for cutting squash. I had a bad experience while I was at Cordon Bleu, when I was doing my 4 hours of “sous-chef-ing” for their signatures restaurant. I was involved in the prep, and was told to cut 3-4 GIANT squashes in pieces (the squashes were at least a foot long each ). I had such a hard time getting the knife to pierce into the squash, let alone get it to move. Long story short, another chef eventually helped me, but I really could have used the tips from this cookbook back then.

Here is the recipe – keeping in mind that I report on my blog what I did, so the recipe is often at least a bit different than the original recipe. I like to do things like double garlic and herbs/spices.

Serves: 3

Ingredients
olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 can (28oz) tomato sauce
1/4 heaping cup chopped and pitted mixed olives (black and green)
2 tbsp capers, drained and chopped
2 tbsp chopped basil (I used the entirety of a store-bought package)
1 tsp hot pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
1 roasted spaghetti squash, forked into noodles (I used two small squashes)

First I cooked the squash. I preheated the oven to 400*F. I cut a small piece off of one face of the squash so that I could place the squash on it’s back and not have it roll. Next, I cut the squash in half length-wise by piercing the squash, then hammering the knife with a meat tenderizer (aha! one of these does come in handy in vegan cooking!), which let the blade cut while I hammered. I made sure to hammer the flat part of the blade, rather than a handle. If it wasn’t obvious, a big knife is necessary here.

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Next, I scooped out the guts with a spoon. I lightly oiled the exposed flesh and placed each half face-down onto a cookie sheet. The squash was baked for 20 minutes, until a fork inserted easily. Depending on the size, the squash may need about 5-8 extra minutes. The squash cooled for about 10-15 minutes, and I pulled out all the flesh with a fork, dragging it long-wise down the squash, and letting the noodles fall into a large bowl. I set the squash aside.

In a medium sauce-pan, I heated some olive oil and sauteed the onion until soft, then added the garlic for one minute. I added the tomato sauce, olives, capers, basil, hot pepper flakes, and salt and pepper, and let the sauce simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

I re-heated the noodles in a non-stick frying pan, and served the tomato sauce on top of the noodles. I served this dish with a spinach salad and a baguette.

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Vegan Lasagna

I have been wanting to make a vegan lasagna for a very long time, but did not want to use  packaged vegan cheese. I know a lot of vegans eat Daiya cheese, but I just do not enjoy the after-taste. As an alternative, when soaked and blended, cashews make a delicious substitute for cheese. However, in the last year I have had a very difficult time finding peanut-free cashews. At long last, there is a brand of nuts now available at the Independent close to my house that is peanut-free and gluten-free! Check this out for more information. Here is the recipe for vegan lasagna, inspired by ohsheglows.com

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Ingredients for the ricotta cheese

1 cup raw cashews, soaked for a few hours
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp onion powder

Ingredients for vegetable filling

2 tbsp coconut oil or olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium zucchinis, sliced thin
1 small eggplant, diced
1 red pepper, diced
Optional: 1 cup mushrooms*
* I do not like mushrooms, but I can appreciate how delicious they could be in a lasagna

Other Ingredients

1 box lasagna noodles, oven-ready
1 jar pasta sauce, or do what I did and make your own with canned or fresh tomatoes

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I preheated the oven to 400*F. I started by putting all the cheese ingredients in a food processor and pureed until smooth. I put the cheese aside. Next, I heated  the oil in a large frying pan and cooked the onion and garlic until translucent. I added the zucchini, eggplant, and red pepper, and cooked for about five minutes. Then, I took a large casserole dish and sprayed with cooking spray. I layered the lasagna in this order: pasta sauce (1 cup), noodles, cashew cheese (half of it), vegetables, pasta sauce, noodles, cheese, vegetables, pasta sauce, noodles, pasta sauce. I covered the top in a layer of nutritional yeast, but for the Daiya lovers, a layer on the top would probably be delicious. I covered the lasagna in tinfoil and baked the whole dish for 40 minutes. After removing it from the oven I let it sit for a few minutes, then served it.

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