3 Healthy, Delicious, Gluten-Free, Plant-Based Spaghetti Recipes
Most cultures of the world have their noodle-like or dumpling-y type comfort food. Traditionally, at least in Western world traditions, the doughy strings or lumps had at least a little wheat, corn, oat, or barley flour included in the ingredients. These are all grains that are now often considered taboo for people with certain chronic health issues, such as coeliac disease, Crohn's, or even thyroid problems. A good spaghetti dinner has been a staple in many lives for years now-- what if you are eating gluten-free? Is there life after (regular, wheat) spaghetti?
Spaghetti: How I Started Out
I'm not Italian, but spaghetti, or at least the canned Chef Boyardee* brand, was a big part of my growing up comfortably in -40 degree Canadian Prairie winters. I loved that stuff. There was a slightly undefine-able greasy aftertaste, but otherwise, it slid down the throat a treat and filled up a skinny kid like nothing else. That is how we made spaghetti in our house: open a couple of cans, pour them in a pan, heat, stir, serve.
Fast forward to Vancouver, BC, Summer of Love 1969. In between being a naive and gawky Prairie Chick and a really cool Hippie Chick (wannabe), I lived with my Aunt Joan in the West End of Vancouver. She took on the task of teaching me to cook. Off she went to her classy job as a dental hygienist every morning and I had the opportunity to do some light housekeeping, take the bus on the one route I felt confident in (to the Hudson Bay Store and back) and cook supper for the two of us from either "The Joy of Cooking" or "Fannie Farmer's Cookbook". The not-very-assertive part of me waited politely to be assigned a meal to cook. One day Joan said, "Why don't we have spaghetti? There is a recipe for sauce here" and she handed me whichever book had the sauce recipe in it.
So, I made the sauce-- with a pound of hamburger, tomato paste, stewed tomatoes, Parmesan cheese I'm guessing. It was quite a bit more complicated than 'Chef Boyardee' but it smelled amazing and was worth the bother. Then I boiled up the dry spaghetti sticks (that I learned was called "pasta") and, about twenty minutes before my Aunt arrived home, poured the sauce over the noodles and flipped them around until they were nicely coated like my childhood favourite. The Spaghetti actually tasted quite a lot like the Chef's. Of course, my sophisticated career-woman aunt was not impressed with what I thought was a lovely meal and I received terse instructions to never, ever combine spaghetti with sauce, except when I was dishing up my own, of course. To drive the lesson home I was taken out to a few Italian restaurants. We never said "It's all good" in those days, but it was.
From Young Matron to Old Retiree: Spaghetti All The Way
I married and we functioned happily as part of the Spaghetti Dining Club back in the 70s and 80s. We young women traded hamburger-y recipes for spaghetti sauce, and gave each other demos while our husbands played cards, or whatever they did while we talked and hung out together in the kitchen of whoever's house. (We also dished up a lot of Chili, but that falls outside the parameters of this article-- lucky for you.) Gluten was a non-issue back then, and although we were vegetarian, from time to time, we lapsed back into hamburger recipes when it suited our social paradigm.
With the arrival of the Internet we went through a lot of trendy and health-related stages. For a while, all of our pasta was whole-wheat. Then wheat became the villain, and we switched to gluten-free brown rice pasta. We also tend mostly towards vegan nowadays, meaning no animal-sourced foods (goodbye ingredients like hamburger and Parmesan cheese, for example). Fortunately for you, the rest of the humanity's eating is still much more diverse than we are in our little household, and the world's your oyster-- search up 'spaghetti' or 'pasta sauce' on Pinterest if you don't believe me. However, if you are either exploring a rather rigid vegan-gluten-free way of eating, or if you are paleo, even, the three spaghetti recipes that follow will be of interest:
Spaghetti Squash with Garlicky Cashew Alfredo Sauce
Properly Cooking Spaghetti Squash
- If you don't bake the spaghetti squash for the right amount of time (about 45 minutes in a preheated 400F oven) you will get a crunchy, starchy, not very satisfying "pasta".
- Cut the Squash from stem to stern (end to end)and use a spoon to scoop out seeds and fibrous strands. The seeds can be dried and planted, if they are not sterile. They can also be toasted as a snack, similar to pumpkin seeds.
- Coat the inside of the two halves of squash with 2 T. Olive Oil and rub in 1 T. Celtic Sea Salt
- Turn halves with insides down, and bake for 45 minutes
Scoring the Spaghetti Squash
- Remove from oven and taking a fork, score the squash horizontally to achieve the longest 'spaghetti' strands
- Arrange on plates while hot and scoop on sauce. Any sauce of your preference can be used. Link to the recipe for the Garlicky Cashew Alfredo Sauce is below this recipe.
Recipe for Garlicky Cashew Alfredo Sauce
- Comox Valley Seventh-day Adventist Veggie Cooking Classes: Recipe for GARLICKY CASHEW SPAGHETTI SAUC
This creamy, dreamy sauce will knock your socks off!
Organic Black Bean Spaghetti
So, there you have the divine Spaghetti Squash recipe that will please the most discerning of spaghetti lovers.
I was really pleasantly surprised at what a difference it makes to the taste and texture to bake it at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 minutes.
Our dog also loves baked spaghetti squash.
This organic black bean spaghetti is grown organically in China. As you can see from the table, this pasta has a very high dietary fibre and protein content, as compared to regular wheat spaghetti.
It starts out black and cooks up in 6-8 minutes to a dark brownish-grey (the colour of wild rice) and has a mild nutty flavour. I used the same garlicky Alfredo sauce as I did with the sphaghetti squash above, but there is a great Asian-flavoured Red Curry sauce recipe on the box that I have included below-- it would also be tasty with regular Asian rice noodles.
Regular Wheat Spaghetti
2-3 g dietary fibre/serving
5-6 g protein/serving
Organic Black Bean Spaghetti
11 g dietary fibre/serving
23 g protein/serving
Red Curry Sauce
- 400g Coconut Cream
- 30g Red Curry Paste
- 25g Ginger, grated
- 10g Fresh Coriander, chopped
- Salt and Pepper
- 2 T. Olive Oil
- Red and Yellow Peppers, sliced
- Spring Onions, garnish
*Gently boil the first 5 ingredients together
*Fry up peppers and mix in. Garnish with onions.
Rice and Quinoa Spaghetti with Primavera-type Sauce
If you are looking for a GF spaghetti that most approximates the flavour of wheat spaghetti, of the three recipes here, the White Rice-Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) pasta would be the closest. It is somewhat higher in protein content (5%) than the regular spaghetti (3-4%) but does not have a higher fibre content.
Bring the package to a boil in 3-4 litres of water, and it should be ready to rinse and eat in 12 minutes. This Go-Go Quinoa brand is gluten-free, vegan and organic.
I have put together my own quick primavera-type sauce (apologies to the "real" primavera) using whatever veggies I have at hand. I sliced and chopped them up and cooked them in a veggie broth. For a thicker sauce you could add in some tapioca starch, but I was happy with the 'naked' veggies over the spaghetti. Use what ever sauce is appealing to you-- this pasta is very similar, as I said, to the usual spaghetti, and if you are longing for it, you might also be longing for your old standby sauce as well.
GF Spaghetti- What Do You Think?
© 2014 Cynthia