Spaghetti Chef from Vegan 101 by Jenny Engel & Heather Bell of Spork Foods

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I love all of the new cookbooks I have been reading lately. I tend not to actually follow recipes and just look at the ingredients for inspiration. But this recipe, called Spaghetti Chef, from Vegan 101 by the girls behind Spork  Foods, in LA is a different story.

These gals are sisters and vegan gourmet chefs who wrote Vegan 101, a cute new cookbook that has some really great and easy recipes. It is definitely different than some of the other books I have – it has it’s own creative California vibe – and I love it. It is a book I will be cooking more from and one I will recommend to friends.

I love pasta and I thought I knew it all but this recipe blew me away. Who would have thought to add almonds to pasta with tomato sauce? Not me. But there is a story to this recipe which I have permission from the authors to reprint below. Check it out and make it for yourself. It is definitely going in my weekly rotation!

P.S. My dish is above with some nutty parm and fresh pepper sprinkled on top. I didn’t have any fresh thyme but I made it anyway. The professional picture is below. Just keeping it real!

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Spaghetti Chef

Serves 4 to 6
Prep time: 12 minutes
Cook time: 37 minutes

Walking down a cobblestone street in Sicily, we came upon a tiny, jam-packed restaurant where the special of the day was “Spaghetti Chef.” With no further explanation, except the revelation that it was vegan, we patiently drank wine and waited until 11:30 p.m. for a table. And was it ever worth it! We adapted this dish as an ode to that memorable spot.

FOR THE PASTA
Pinch sea salt
1 (16-ounce) package spaghetti or bucatini
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

FOR THE SAUCE
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
½ cup raw almonds, chopped
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
¼ cup red wine vinegar
¼ cup evaporated cane sugar
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, stemmed and coarsely chopped

FOR THE GARLIC OIL
⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

TO PREPARE THE PASTA
In a large pot, bring 2 quarts of water to a boil, add sea salt, and cook pasta as directed according to package. Drain pasta and coat with olive oil. Set aside.

TO PREPARE THE SAUCE
Heat a high-walled pan over medium-low heat. Add oil, onion, and garlic and cook about 8 minutes, or until caramelized. Add almonds, sea salt, and red pepper flakes and cook 4 more minutes, or until almonds are toasted.

Add tomato paste, diced tomatoes, lemon juice, vinegar, and sugar and cook for 20 to 25 minutes, or until sauce is thickened, stirring frequently. Stir in thyme.

TO PREPARE THE GARLIC OIL
In a small saucepan over low heat, cook oil and sliced garlic for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until fragrant.

To serve, spoon garlic oil into base of pasta serving dish. Add desired amount of pasta over oil and scoop generous helping of thick sauce over pasta. Serve warm.

Tip: To further enhance the flavor of the sauce, cook it over a low flame for up to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Tip: Bucatini, a thicker, hollow relative of spaghetti, works beautifully in this recipe, so if you can find it, give it a whirl.

BIO: Los Angeles based Spork Foods is a gourmet vegan food company owned and operated by sisters Jenny Engel and Heather Bell. They offer live vegan organic cooking classes in Los Angeles at Spork Foods (www.sporkfoods.com). They are published authors of, Spork-Fed cookbook as well as Vegan 101, which are currently in stores and online, with a foreword by fellow fans Emily and Zooey Deschanel. Heather and Jenny are Chef Ambassadors for two major corporations, Follow Your Heart and Setton Farms. They teach all over the country and the world reaching over 10,000 people a year. More about us: http://www.sporkfoods.com/about.php.

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