30-minute Gluten-Free Spaghetti with Zucchini and Meatless Meatballs

This quick mostly store-bought ingredients meal helps me get through the week, especially by Wednesday night. Store-bought/ pre-made vegan meatballs or vegan Italian sausage adds a hearty chunkiness to the sauce. Zucchini is my Italian go-to add-in vegetable for pasta sauce but any vegetable or mix of vegetables will work (carrots, eggplant, squash…). With a few additions, jar sauce can taste like homemade in no time.

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: 25 minutes

Servings: 3-4


9 meatleass gluten-free/dairy-free meatballs or Italian sausage
1 pound gluten-free SPAGHETTI pasta noodles
2 tablespoon OLIVE OIL
2 medium ZUCCHINI, sliced
1 ONION, chopped
24 ounce jar of PASTA SAUCE (I like tomato & basil flavored)
1 tablespoon BASIL, if not using flavored sauce
1 teaspoon OREGANO, if not using flavored sauce
1 pinch KOSHER SALT, to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground BLACK PEPPER, to taste
Optional toppings:
Sprinkle of Vegan PARMESAN CHEESE


  • PREPARE PASTA (approximately 11 minutes)
    • In the appropriately sized saucepan for the amount of pasta you are cooking, BOIL water over high heat. COOK pasta according to the package.
    • Drain the pasta and save some of the water to use later in the sauce (like 1/4 cup)
  • PREPARE MEATBALLS (approximately 10 minutes to bake)
    • Follow the package directions for skillet cooking or baking of meatballs
    • SET ASIDE when done
  • PREPARE ZUCCHINI and SAUCE (while pasta and meatballs are cooking)
    • In a skillet over medium-high heat, ADD oil until hot
    • ADD zucchini and onions and SAUTE for 5 minutes until the zucchini is browned but not soft
    • ADD the pasta sauce to the skillet and bring to a BOIL
    • LOWER the head and let SIMMER for 8-10 minutes (Reducing the sauce thickens it and concentrates the flavors).
    • ADD the meatballs to the sauce and toss to cover
    • USE the saved pasta water to extend the sauce if needed
    • Heat the mixture until meatballs are sufficiently warmed
  • PLATE up pasta and TOSS with sauce mixture
  • SERVE with a topping of vegan parmesan cheese if you like
  • STORE pasta separate from sauce in airtight containers in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. FREEZE sauce for up to 3 months. Pasta doesn’t freeze well.

15-Minute Dairy-Free Shrimp Scampi with Sweet Peas

Make any night special when you turn dairy-free butter, garlic, olive oil, red pepper flakes, and white wine into this quick and easy shrimp scampi. I use frozen jumbo shrimp with the tails on, which defrost in ice water in 10 minutes. Because I love sweet peas, I tend to go overboard with them in the mix – how many you add to the plate is really up to you.

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 5 minutes

Servings: 4


1-1/2 pounds (24-30) large or jumbo SHRIMP, shelled & deveined
I use tail-on because it's pretty. 6 to 8 shrimp per person
3 tablespoons vegan BUTTER
2 tablespoons extra virgin OLIVE OIL
4-5 cloves GARLIC, minced (1 tablespoon)
1/2 teaspoon RED PEPPER FLAKES (more to taste)
1/2 teaspoon KOSHER SALT (more to taste)
1 tablesppon LEMON JUICE
Ground BLACK PEPPER to taste
Top with PARSLEY, chopped
10-12 Ounces of SWEET PEAS (1 bag frozen)


  • COOK rice or pasta according to package directions. This may take up to 20 minutes so start it before defrosting shrimp.
    • If using frozen shrimp, you can quickly DEFROST them by placing the amount of shrimp you want to cook in a colander. Place the colander in a large bowl and run it under cold water until water covers the shrimp. Let the shrimp sit in the cold water for about 10 minutes. PULL the shrimp out of the water and RINSE with fresh water. DRAIN and PAT DRY before adding to skillet.
    • Shell on shrimp adds more flavor to the scampi but is messy to eat, I prefer to remove the shells prior to cooking. But I do leave the tails on. It’s a personal choice.
    • DEVEIN shrimp before cooking if taking the shell off.
  • COOK frozen sweet peas according to package directions (usually 5 minutes in the microwave)
  • HEAT a skillet on high
  • When hot, REDUCE heat to medium-high and ADD butter and olive oil until melted and foam has subsided
  • ADD garlic, red pepper flakes, and salt and SAUTE until garlic starts to brown. Do not let the mixture burn.
  • ADD shrimp to skillet
  • STIR in the white wine and mix well. COAT shrimp well with the butter, oil, wine mixture
  • Evenly spread shrimp in the skillet and INCREASE heat to high
  • BOIL everything for 3 minutes
  • FLIP the shrimp over and BOIL for another 1-2 minutes
  • REMOVE from heat and ADD lemon juice and black pepper
  • SERVE over rice with sweet peas and a sprinkle of parsley
  • STORE in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days

Inspired by Simply Recipes Shrimp Scampi

Gluten-Free Tagliatelle with Bay Scallops & Sweet Peas

If sauteing bay scallops in garlic, white wine, and vegan butter weren’t delicious enough, serving them with pasta and sweet peas make this dish not only flavorful but colorful too. I love finding different gluten-free kinds of pasta. Tagliatelle is similar to fettuccine; its a long, flat, egg noodle. Jovial Foods makes a nice brown rice variety. If you are looking for a seafood dish to serve your friends and family, this gluten-free, dairy-free delight will get no complaints, I promise.

Preparation time: 5-10 minutes (fresh vs frozen)

Cooking time: 15 minutes

Servings: 4


1 pound gluten-free TAGLIATELLE PASTA noodles
10 ounces SWEET PEAS (fresh or frozen)
3 tablespoons VEGAN BUTTER, divided in 1/2
1 tablespoon OLIVE OIL
1 pound BAY SCALLOPS, rinsed and dried (fresh or frozen)
3 cloves GARLIC, chopped
2 tablespoons LEMON JUICE
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon WHITE WINE
1 tablespoon BASIL
1 teaspoon OREGANO
1 pinch KOSHER SALT, to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground BLACK PEPPER, to taste
Optional toppings:
Sprinkle of Italian PARSLEY, chopped
Sprinkle of Vegan PARMESAN CHEESE


    • BOIL water over high heat for the pasta. COOK pasta according to the package. Best to cook ‘al dente’ (firm to the bite).
    • Drain the pasta but SAVE about 1/2 cup of the pasta water for later
    • If using FROZEN, follow the package directions.
    • If using FRESH, I recommend steaming then in a saucepan.
      • FILL a saucepan with enough water to cover the bottom but not up to the steamer basket
      • Bring the water to a BOIL over high heat
      • ADD the sweet peas and COVER for 2 minutes
      • REMOVE from heat and set aside
    • If using FROZEN scallops then THAW in a colander under cold running water for about 5 minutes. RINSE scallops and PAT dry with a paper towel.
    • If using FRESH scallops, RINSE and PAT scallops dry with a paper towel.
    • HEAT a large heavy frying pan over medium-high heat. ADD oil and 1-1/2 tablespoons of butter until it starts to brown.
    • ADD 1/2 the scallops to the very hot skillet*. SPRINKLE with salt and pepper and SEAR for 90 seconds without stirring.
      • *The key to searing the scallops is a very hot pan and leaving lots of room for them to cook. If the pan is not hot enough and the scallops are crowded, they will steam instead of sear. Scallops contain a lot of liquid which will express when they cook. And, I recommend that you take the scallops off the heat a little before you think they are done because they will continue to cook in the bowl.
    • FLIP the scallops over and SEAR on the other side for another 90 seconds.
    • REMOVE the first batch of seared scallops from the pan. PLACE in a medium bowl and set aside.
    • ADD more butter, if needed, and the remaining scallops.
    • SEAR the scallops the same way as you did the first time.
    • REMOVE the second batch and add to the first.
    • In the frying pan you used for the scallops there should still be a hot oil/butter mixture on the bottom. If not, ADD more butter, if you need, and heat until bubbling.
    • ADD the garlic and SAUTE for 1 minute until it starts to brown.
    • ADD the white wine, basil, and oregano and let it bubble. REDUCE for 1 minute.
    • ADD the lemon juice. Salt and pepper to taste.
    • COOK for 1-2 minutes. It should reduce about 1/3.
    • ADD the scallops to the sauce and toss to cover with sauce
    • ADD the cooked pasta to the sauce and use the saved pasta water to extend the sauce if needed
    • TOSS the pasta with the sauce and scallops to combine
    • MIX in sweet peas for color and taste. The amount of peas to add is really a personal preference., I used the whole bag. 
    • TOSS everything to combine
  • SERVE with a topping of parsley and/or vegan parmesan cheese

Baked Zucchini Chips – Gluten-Free & Vegan

When I am out with friends at an Italian restaurant, I really miss having that tasty fried zucchini stick appetizer, so I  decided to make my own healthy gluten and dairy free version. The thinner you slice the zucchini rounds, the crisper they will be. These babies are baked, not fried, so eat as many as you would like. Try them with some warm marinara sauce and vegan parmesan cheese. MANGIA!

Preparation Time: 15-20 minutes

Cooking Time:  30 minutes

Servings: 4


2 large ZUCCHINI, sliced very thin
1/4 cup CASHEW MILK (or any alternative nut milk)
1/2 cup gluten-free FLOUR (almond works nice)
1/2 teaspoon GARLIC POWDER
1/4 teaspoon HIMILAYAN SALT
Ground CAYENNE PEPPER to taste (1/4 teaspoon)
Spray can of OLIVE OIL


  • PREHEAT oven to 425 degrees F
    • PLACE paper towels on a plate or flat baking pan
    • SLICE zucchini as thin as possible (1/4″ or less). You can leave the skin on.
    • LAY zucchini slices on the paper towels and SPRINKLE with salt
    • Let the slices sit for about 10 minutes to draw out excess liquid
    • PRESS rounds with a paper towel to BLOT up any excess liquid
    • PUT dried zucchini rounds in a bowl (call this Assembly Step #1)
  • While the zucchini is doing its thing to get out the excess water, in a gallon size plastic bag, PREPARE seasoning mix of flour, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, salt, and cayenne pepper to taste. (You can use a bowl but I find the ‘shake’ method covers nicely.) Set to the side. (Assembly Step #2)
  • POUR milk in a medium bowl (Assembly Step #3)
  • PREPARE a baking pan (I reuse the one I dried the zucchini on) with parchment paper (Assembly Step #4)
    • MAKE AN ASSEMBLY LINE of all the ingredients starting with Step #1 the bowl of zucchini, Step #2 the bowl of milk, Step #3 the bag of seasoning, and finally Step #4 the baking pan
    • With a sharp fork (or a clean hand), DIP the dried zucchini in the milk
    • Then TOSS the milked zucchini into the seasoning bag and flip around until the slice is coated on both sides
    • With a sharp fork (or a clean dry hand) remove the zucchini slice from the seasoning bag and LAY it on the parchment paper in the baking pan
    • Repeat steps 1 through 4 until all the slices are coated.
    • LIGHTLY SPRAY each slice with olive oil, ensuring not to remove seasoning
  • BAKE for 15 minutes
  • TURN over each slice and LIGHTLY SPRAY again if needed
  • BAKE another 15 minutes until everything is golden brown. NOTE: cooking time will vary depending on how thin you sliced your zucchini rounds, so keep an eye on them so that they don’t get burnt. 
  • COOL the rounds on the parchment paper for a few minutes before removing
  • SERVE hot with your favorite tomato sauce and optionally sprinkle with vegan parmesan cheese
  • Note: Try to eat them all while hot because they got soggy when they cool

Almond Paste Macaroons

I love almond anything and these traditional Italian Christmas cookies are quick and easy to make for any holiday gathering with pre-made or store-bought almond paste. At only 30 to 40 calories per cookie, who can resist eating a few? They are gluten and dairy free, and if you make them with egg replacer they can even be Vegan. Be careful not to overcook them or they turn into little rocks. 

Cook Time: 20 – 30 minutes

Servings: 18


1 extra large EGG WHITE (Vegans can use EGG REPLACER)
1 8-ounce can ALMOND PASTE (or make 14-ounces of your own as follows)
(Vegans can use EGG REPLACER, with 3 teaspoons of CORN SYRUP)
2 teaspoons ALMOND EXTRACT
1/4 teaspoon SALT
1/2 cup granulated SUGAR
18 Sliced ALMONDS, optional


  • If you are making your own almond paste then do it at least the night before you make the cookies because it needs to be refrigerated to firm up.
  • To make almond paste: 
    • In a food processor, GRIND the blanched almonds (or use almond meal/flour already ground)
    • COMBINE the ground almonds and sugar and PULSE until well mixed
    • ADD almond extract and pulse again until combined
    • ADD egg whites (or egg replacer and corn syrup) and mix until it forms into a dough. If the mixture is too wet, add more sugar or almond flour
    • TURN OUT onto a clean work surface, KNEAD a few times, and ROLL the dough into a log
    • SPLIT the log into 2 servings (about 7-ounces each). Then WRAP each log in plastic and place in the refrigerator overnight. The dough will keep for at least a month in the refrigerator and up to six months in the freezer. 
  • PREHEAT oven to 325 degrees F
  • LINE a cookie sheet with parchment paper
  • COMBINE almond paste (after you break it into pieces for easier blending) and sugar in food processor. 
  • ADD egg white (or Vegan egg replacer) and mix in the food processor until the dough is sticky (2 or 3 minutes). (Note: If you chose to go the Vegan route, the cookies are not as chewy which is why you might want to add corn syrup, but it just isn’t the same as egg whites and it is hard to get the dough tacky enough.)
  • DROP rounded tablespoons of cookie dough onto the cookie sheet about 1 inch apart.
  • TOP cookies with either 1/2 a cherry or a sliced almond. You may have to press the cherry or almond into the cookie a little bit to make it stick.
  • BAKE 15 – 20 minutes on the middle shelf and then move them to the upper rack for 5-7 minutes.  The cookies should be golden brown in color.
  • MOVE cookies and parchment paper to a cooling rack and let them completely cool before placing in airtight containers.      

Inspired by the “Almond Macroons” recipe on the side of the Solofoods Almond paste box. https://solofoods.com