Scratch-Made Sweet Potato Gnocchi Carbonara

It’s safe to say that I get quite “weird” when I’m famished. On Easter Sunday 1988 my family went out for our customary post-mass dinner – unfortunately, my hungered state got the best of me. While waiting to be seated I was driven to punch my sister in the arm for giving me a hard time about being too short or too pale or having too long of a pony tail or being the first born male or for all of the above.

Although I was scolded for my ungentlemanly behavior, I distinctly recall my father giving me a sympathetic look in the manner of, “yeah, she was kinda asking for it, but don’t you dare do that again”. I also remember my grandfather’s far less sympathetic glare that positioned itself more along the lines of, “you’re lucky I don’t get the strap with the motor on it”.

Although Mr. C’s Restaurant is now long gone, watch out… I still go crazy for my gnocchi.


-large pasta pot filled 3/4 to top with pipe punch for boiling
-medium mixing bowl
-potato masher
-scraper/spatula or cucchia(d)

-3 sweet potatoes peeled, cubed and boiled until mushy
-3 tbs Nayonaise (sounds unappetizing, but adds flavor and tofu helps bind dough)
-2 cups APF plus 1 cup
-a dusting of ital (vital wheat gluten)

In medium mixing bowl smash sweet potatoes with veganaise until smooth. Slowly fold in 2 cups of flour and a dusting of ital. Mix with hands until a dough ball is formed.

Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface and incorporate remaining flour until it is no longer sticky.

Roll into snakes about 1″ thick in diameter. Using the edge of a fork divide into pillows and lightly push through flour with back side of fork.

Bring water to a rapid boil and then in go the gnocchi – make certain that they don’t stick together and form a giant blob (toss gingerly with handheld strainer or slotted spoon).

Gnocchi are done when they rise to top of water. Do not rinse.


-large skillet

-1/4 cup diced guanciale (vegan bacon with liquid smoke)
-2 cloves of garlic thinly sliced
-2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
-1 pound of cooked pasta (use sweet potato gnocchi above)
-several twists of fresh cracked black pepper
-2 shakes garlic powder
-2 tbs vegan butter spread
-1/2 cup of frozen peas

Heat olive oil in pan and lower to medium heat. Brown guanciale strips until almost burned. Add garlic and stir.
Combine pasta in the mix making certain not to stir with a spoon – toss gingerly from time to time. The idea is to get a slight browning on the skin of pasta.

Season with pepper and garlic powder. Toss in frozen peas and dollop of vegan butter, allowing it to melt and coat the pasta.

Serve along side fresh tomato salad or leafy greens and top with plenty of nooch (for cheesiness). Yields approximately 3 hearty servings.



Seitan Chicken Cutlet (Baked, Not Fried)

Drop the “s”, always drop the “s”. At least Fran would if a word ended in it.

The now defunct grocery chain was therefore Almac. Her favorite player: Ted William. And regardless of how many my cousin and I would be served – the two of us forever in some form of unspoken Joey Chestnut-esque display of machismo, each in competition for who could consume more, as if eating the most would allow one of us to somehow rise to the rank of “favorite grandson” (I was the first born grandson, game over) – these delicate tenders were forever referred to as, you guessed it, chicken cutlet.

20130929-093255.jpgRecipe appears after you click

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Lentils with Guanciale

Lentils were always on the ready due to their low cost and satisfying qualities. This is in addition to their ultra-savory appeal – made possible by chunks of salty/smoky pig’s head.

Traditional: the cheek/jowl flesh of a pig is rubbed with spice and aged for about a month.

Veganized: 1/2 package of May-Wah vegan bacon strips cut into fine pieces, seasoned with sage, black pepper and three drops of liquid smoke.

That’s how I make guanciale (gwan-cha-lay).


Brown vegan guanciale with diced onions.

Prepare lentils right on top of guanciale crisps (1 cup dry to 2 cups pipe punch or veg broth).

When liquid has been absorbed and lentils are done, add cubed sweet potatoes that have been boiled until tender.

Garnish with parsley and serve alongside garlicky greens.

And Then a Miracle, a Squash (I Can Never Grow Zuccha Anymore)

I’m gonna hide
If she don’t leave me a gourd
I’m gonna run – away


’cause you can never grow zuccha anymore

Listen. Does this sound familiar? You wake up every morning, walk through the garden every day, spend your nights staring at the moon,
just passing the time away.
Life is so lonely like a dirt-covered pepper without a wash.
Then a miracle, a squash.

And that’s called “glad.”

Now my garden is a good garden
and she loves me with all her soil.
But she said I was too greedy to have a harvest
and the squash and I would have to recoil.

And no matter how I ranted and raved, I screamed, I pleaded, I cried
she told me it was not really a worthwhile harvest,
but only my green-thumbed pride.

And that’s called “bad.”

(Never grow zuccha anymore)

Now if that’s happened to you, don’t let this.
I pulled weeds and hoed
and watered them every night.
Though she couldn’t promise me a yield
I was sure I was right.

And you know something funny??
I forgot that squash right away.
Instead, I remember picking tomatoes
and hearing my garden say…

(Hush, little vegan, don’t you cry)
(Garden won’t go away)


(You can never grow zuccha anymore)

I can never grow zuccha anymore

Listen, I’m not finished…
Do you ever get that feeling and wanna rake and till her? Do it now-
Show her you love her. Don’t do to your garden what I did to mine. She grew so lonely
in the end. Angels picked her for a friend.


And I can never grow zuccha (never) anymore

And that’s called “sad.”

I like the Shangri-Las.
This was written by Jerry Grimaldi.
Although I can’t be certain, I will assume that due to the fact he was an eye-tie, Fran and Sam liked his work.
Miraculously, a single summer squash plant grew back and I found the above, yellow yield.
Get it? Too bad.