Vladimir Puttanesca

Spaghetti Squash Puttanesca – vegan-friendly

$3.75 airport yogurt, continental-breakfast instant oatmeal, and a day’s-worth of sodium with each meal…  After an exciting, whirlwind tour through the Emerald City, sprinting from trains to planes and braving one of the wettest cities with only 3.4-ounce bottles of curl-taming hair products, I’m ready to get back to some home-cooking — more specifically, my #WholesomeAutumn home-cooking!

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If you’ve never had spaghetti squash before, now is the time to sample these surprisingly satisfying strands — the prep is easy, and the deliciousness is real.  Just roast, fork, top, and eat!  While many recipes suggest jeopardizing life and limb by attempting to cut the raw spaghetti squash in half prior to roasting, I prefer the much safer roast-it-whole method.  Just in case you’ve never tried slaughtering a butternut, acorn, or spaghetti squash before, you should know that they’re darned hard to split.  Even a sharp knife requires the force of a team of oxen for complete gourd bisection.  So, unless you were born with polydactyly and thus have a few digits to spare, I recommend taking the safer route to sumptuous squash success.

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Once you’ve roasted the squash, allowed it to cool a bit, and sliced the now-butter-soft fruit in half, take a fork to its guts, and watch them unfurl.  The lightest of fork pressure causes the flesh to practically dissolve into long, golden strands, each possessing a mild succulent flavor, which pairs well with the sauce of your choosing.
My favorite make-at-home sauce is a puttanesca sauce –he perfect balance of sweet, savory, and tangy.  This masterful mix of Sicilian flavors yields a rich, chunky sauce, perfect for bathing the spaghetti squash strands in luxurious Mediterranean flavors.  Though my usual puttanesca sauce gets part of its flavor punch from the brininess of anchovies (don’t say ewww, they literally just taste like salt and umami), I opted to pass on them this time — partly because of my eating-out sodium-overload and partly because of my desire to keep this recipe vegan-friendly.  If you want a more authentic puttanesca experience though, dissolve 3-5 anchovy fillets in in the olive oil with the spices prior to adding the vegetables.
Though the recipe itself is 100% vegan, I usually top my massive plate of squash and sauce (+/- a layer of wilted arugula in between) with a poached egg so that the rich, runny yolk adds to the sauce’s, well, sauciness 🙂

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Spaghetti Squash Puttanesca

*NOTE:  I like a chunkier sauce, so I roughly diced my onion and zucchini, coarsely grated my carrot and halved my olives; however, if you want a smoother sauce, mince the onion and zucchini, just finely grate the carrots, and thinly slice the olives — this recipe is as customizable as a Sleep Number bed, so prepare to best suit your taste!
2 medium spaghetti squash
2 tablespoons olive oil
Large pinch crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
Small pinch cayenne powder
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 large onion, diced
1 medium carrot, coarsely grated
1 medium zucchini, diced
1 tablespoon smoked paprika (sweet paprika is fine too)
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cloves garlic, squashed with flat side of knife, then minced
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
28-ounce can no-salt-added crushed tomatoes
3 ounces black olives (~half of a standard can), rinsed and halved
1/4 cup raisins
Prepare spaghetti squash:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees farenheit.  Wash outside of each spaghetti squash, and use a fork to randomly and carefully poke multiple holes through the skin — these holes will allow for steam to escape from the roasting squash, so make sure you make lots of them!  Place both now-perforated squash on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, and let roast 60-75 minutes.  When squash yields to finger-pressure, remove from oven, and let cool 30 minutes.  Use a large knife to cut each squash in half horizontally.  Use a big spoon to scoop out the seeds and the goopy strands from the middle of each squash half.  Working your way around the squash, run a fork from the skin side toward the center cavity, releasing the strings of flesh from the skin and from each other.  Scoop squash strands into a large heat-safe container with a well-fitting lid.
Prepare puttanesca sauce:  Add the olive oil to a large cast iron skillet, sprinkle the red pepper flakes, curry powder, cayenne powder, and turmeric into the pool of oil, and turn on heat to medium.  Let oil and spices heat together until fragrant, ~2-3 minutes.  Swirl pan, and add onion, carrot, zucchini, paprika, and salt.  Saute 5-7 minutes, until vegetables have softened significantly.  Add garlic and black pepper, and saute 30 seconds longer.  Deglaze pan with balsamic vinegar, using your wooden spoon to scrape any stuck bits from the bottom of the pan, and allow to simmer until most of the balsamic vinegar has reduced, ~2 minutes.  Add crushed tomatoes, stir, and let bring to a boil.  Add chopped black olives, reduce heat to low, and let simmer 30-40 minutes so that all flavors meld together.  Stir in raisins, cook an additional 5 minutes, then spoon over warm spaghetti squash, and die a happy man! (many, MANY years from now)
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