Paleo “Spaghetti” alla Vodka is a spin on a classic Italian penne alla vodka dish. Spaghetti squash is the perfect gluten free & low-carb base for this dish– and coconut milk, tomato, bacon & vodka come together to make a delicious dairy free sauce to go with it!
Penne alla vodka is traditionally made with penne pasta, vodka, heavy cream, crushed tomatoes, onions, and bacon or pancetta.
This dish became very popular in Italy and in the US around the 1980s, but the origin of the Penne alla Vodka recipe has been disputed between Italy and the United States: both claim the creation of this recipe.
According to The Ultimate Pasta Cookbook, penne alla vodka was invented in the 70s at Dante, a restaurant in Bologna, Italy.
The Williams Sonoma Essentials of Italian cookbook states that it was invented in the 1980s by a Roman chef for a vodka company that wanted to popularize its product in Italy.
To support the creation of this dish in the United States, we have two tales: Luigi Franzese, the Italian American chef of Orsini Restaurant in New York and James Doty, a graduate of Columbia University.
As you can see, it’s not clear whether or not Penne alla Vodka is an authentic Italian recipe. BUT based on the ingredients, the technique, and the mark it left on Italian cuisine, the answer should be yes!
Since this dish is liked by many (including me), I decided to put a gluten & dairy free spin on it so those with dietary restrictions can enjoy these amazing flavours of Italy (or the US).
This recipe is also great for those following a low-carb, keto or paleo diet.
"Spaghetti" alla Vodka is a spin on a classic Italian penne alla vodka dish. Spaghetti squash is the perfect gluten free & low-carb base for this dish-- and coconut milk, tomato, bacon & vodka come together to make a delicious dairy free sauce to go with it!
“Spaghetti” alla Puttanesca is absolutely delicious and super quick & easy to prepare! It’s a great go-to meal during the busy work week since most ingredients (like olives, capers, tomatoes and anchovies) can be easily stored. You’ll fall in love with this gluten free & paleo spin on a classic Italian dish!
So, I was going to talk about the health benefits of this flavourful Italian dish, BUT got sidetracked by some other interesting facts when I was doing recipe research …
DID YOU KNOW? Spaghetti alla puttanesca literally means prostitute’s spaghetti!
And that’s why we’re not talking about health today – and instead learning about how this dish got its name.
Some believe this was the easiest dish prostitutes could prepare between customers because the low cost, easily stored ingredients required little shopping or preparation.
Others believe it was was created by Sandro Petti, the co-owner of the restaurant Rangio Felon. The story goes that some customers arrived late to eat and because the restaurant had run out of many fresh ingredients, they asked Petti to prepare ‘una puttanata qualsiasi’, which literally translates as ‘a whore’s any’ but means any rubbish/ garbage. So Petti created a dish with what he had left in the kitchen. The resulting pasta dish was liked so much by the customers that Petti put it on the restaurant menu calling it ‘spaghetti all puttanesca’.
Moral of the story (whichever story you choose to believe): Spaghetti alla puttanesca is not only quick and easy to whip up, but it’s also a great go-to meal during the busy work week since most ingredients (like olives, capers, tomatoes and anchovies) can be easily stored in your kitchen.
Now check out my gluten free & paleo spin on a classic spaghetti alla puttanesca.
"Spaghetti" alla Puttanesca is absolutely delicious and super quick & easy to prepare! It's a great go-to meal during the busy work week since most ingredients (like olives, capers, tomatoes and anchovies) can be easily stored. You'll fall in love with this gluten free & paleo spin on a classic Italian dish!
Cut spaghetti squash lengthwise and remove seeds with spoon.
Bake at 400F for 30-40 min (first 10 min bake with flesh down, then turn so skin is down for remaining time). Fork should pierce skin easily when squash is cooked.
Use a fork to scrape out the strands of squash.
In a large pan, sauté garlic, anchovies and red pepper flakes in 2 tbsp. olive oil over medium-low heat. Break apart anchovies.
Once garlic is lightly golden, add tomatoes and crush with a fork. Add some salt and cook at medium heat until tomatoes break down, roughly 10-minutes.
Add in olives and capers and let simmer on low heat for another 10-minutes.
Add cooked spaghetti squash into the puttanesca pan with 1 tbsp. olive oil and coat noodles with sauce.
Garnish with finely chopped parsley and serve!
For spaghetti squash: Cooking time varies depending on the size of the squash. Check regularly to avoid overcooking the squash. You want the noodles to be ‘al dente’. Time your spaghetti squash so that it’s done cooking around the same time as your sauce.
Not a fan of anchovies? Try tuna or chicken instead.
Make this dish plant-based by replacing anchovies with beans.