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Spaghetti Chef

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.
Prep Time 12 minutes
Cook Time 37 minutes
Total Time 49 minutes

Ingredients

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

  • cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic thinly sliced

Instructions

TO PREPARE THE PASTA

  1. 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

  1. 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.
  2. 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

  1. In a small saucepan over low heat, cook oil and sliced garlic for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until fragrant.
  2. 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.

Recipe Notes

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.