Italian Night – Mangia!


DSC01066Mmmm… Italian heartiness! Gathering around the table, eating lots of hearty, filling, warm food, talking and laughing with a bottle of red wine… Many good times have formed around these meals. But being GF and vegan-ish, Italian was thought to be out. But it’s not!! Persistence and the incredible work others have done make it a lot easier to accomplish.

Being from the northeast, M was on a mission to make the perfect marinara reminiscent of his youth – as he grew up in a very Italian-filled area. This evening was his night – and I was his assistant. : )

This menu consisted of spaghetti marinara, garlic bread sticks (yes, you read that correctly), baked rosemary petrale sole, and a small balsamic dressed salad. It was a lot of food. But we ate it ALL. Ok, not all, as we had some leftovers, but we ate what we put on our plates.

For the magical marinara – thanks to M and his experimentation:

  • 3 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated or minced fine
  • 1/4 C finely chopped sweet or yellow onion
  • 1/2 t sea salt
  • 1/4 t ground black pepper
  • 1/2 t crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 t sugar or agave nectar
  • 1 28oz can San Marzano tomatoes, whole but crushed by hand
  • 1/4 C fresh parsley, chopped
  • 6-8 leaves fresh basil

In a saucepan, add the olive oil and garlic. Turn the heat on to medium/medium-low, and cook, stirring often, until the garlic starts to turn golden (don’t let it burn). Add the crushed red pepper flakes and the onion, and sautee until soft and translucent, about 5-10 minutes. Add the tomatoes (with all juices), parsley, sugar, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer and cook 20-30 minutes, stirring every now and then.

Hand tear the basil into the sauce, stir in, and turn off the heat. Blend until smooth with an immersion blender or using a food processor or blender.

Slightly undercook the pasta (we used store-bought gluten free pasta, this time we used the Schar brand – turned out pretty good! Previously we tried the Orgran brand, not so good…), and then toss with some of the marinara sauce to finish cooking.

*Note: only make as much pasta as you’re going to eat right away. The sauce is great as leftovers, also freezes well, but the pasta does not. So always make the pasta fresh, and toss with the warm sauce.

We found some vegan/gf parmesan – tastes just like that Kraft fake parm – so we’ll take it!! I never thought I’d be happy to have the Kraft parm taste… But it’s better than all the other fake parms we’ve tried (too much noochy flavor), so it’ll do. There’s a couple others out on the market, so we’ll probably end up trying those, too (notably Parma brand – which is gf, vegan, soy free, etc).

DSC01055For the garlic breadsticks, I found this website. I made a couple minor mods, but essentially followed her instructions:

  • 2 T active dry yeast
  • 1 1/3 C brown rice flour
  • 1 C tapioca flour
  • 2 t xanthan gum
  • 2 t Italian herb mix/seasoning; I don’t buy pre-mixed seasonings, so instead I put the following into the breadsticks (rough measurements): 1/4 t marjoram, 1/2 t oregano, 1/4 t basil, 1/8 t thyme, 1/4 t garlic powder, 1/4 t onion powder, 2 t fresh chopped parsley)
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 1/3 C non-dairy milk (I used help milk), and I warmed this to about 100deg in the microwave (so 45-60seconds on high)
  • 1 t agave
  • 2 t extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 t apple cider vinegar

Preheat the oven to 425. Put all the dry ingredients into the bowl of a stand mixer. In a separate bowl or measuring cup, combine the wet ingredients. Turn the mixer on low, and slowly add in the liquid until it’s incorporated. Then mix on medium speed for 2 minutes until smooth.

Grease a large cookie sheet with olive oil, using your hands (getting them nicely coated). Separate the dough into 6 pieces and form into breadsticks.

In a small bowl, combine 2-3 T olive oil with 1/2 t garlic powder and 1 T fresh chopped parsley. Use this to brush the tops of the breadsticks. Bake for 15 minutes until golden and reaching an internal temp of 200-205deg. Remove to a cooling rack. You can brush any remaining oil/garlic/parsley onto the tops. Let cool a bit (not too long) before serving. They are best served warm!

Look at it!

Look at it!

If you don’t eat it all at once, wrap in plastic wrap, and then reheat in a toaster oven. Lasts a couple days like this, but I doubt it’d last much more than that (due to delicious flavor and there not being anything left to save any longer than that).

The fish was done very simply – just sprinkled with salt and pepper, then coated in a light breading (using some gf rice breadcrumbs I found at Whole Foods) mixed with some chopped rosemary, sprayed with olive oil spray, and just baked it at 375 for about 10-15 minutes until it reached 135deg internal temp. Now, granted, the fish was a bit overkill. We could’ve stuck to just the pasta, breadsticks, and salad… But it’s not like it was bad, so whatevs. 🙂

We’ve already had this once more since making it the first time a 1.5 weeks ago. It’s *that* good! Italian’s back on the table, boys!!

2 thoughts on “Italian Night – Mangia!

  1. This looks delicious, Veronica–I can almost taste and smell it right off the page. My Dad used to say “mangia”–so great to be able to recreate family favorites. Thanks!

    • Thanks, Maria! I’m glad my post reminded you a bit of your Dad.
      This new way of eating doesn’t mean we can’t have family favorites again, we just have to be creative in reproducing them. 🙂

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