Macaroni and Cheese used to be one of my favourite comfort foods a few years ago. One small box with all the ingredients inside and just a few minutes to prepare saved me many times. But I never got myself to make it from scratch, until yesterday. A couple of days ago I accidentally came across Kait's recipe for Baked Vegan Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese. It would never have crossed my mind to use butternut squash as the base for this dish and the thought of it was very intriguing. I had this squash in the pantry for a couple of weeks and didn't know what to make with it. The whole idea sounded perfect for a New Year's Eve dinner.
At first I didn't want to use soy in this sauce, so I did a little search and found Allie's video recipe on Economy Bites and thought I'd just replace the milk with coconut cream, but worried the coconut taste would overshadow the cheese flavour (she pretty much had me at "curry" - my favourite spice mix). After much dilemma I decided to go for soy single cream, it's slightly sweet and I had successfully used it in creamy sauces before. The most surprising thing about the sauce was its intense cheese flavour. I am positive that any non-vegan would love it.
- it's very creamy, and delicious way beyond what I had expected from using a vegetable in a cheese sauce
- mozzarella and nutritional yeast mask wonderfully the taste of squash, making this dish perfect for sneaking some veggie into someone's diet
- the spices and herbs greatly enhance the flavour of the sauce and add a nice kick to this Italian classic, leaving a wonderful aftertaste
- it instantly climbed up on my list of favourite dishes and I just can't wait to make it again.
- 500 g elbow macaroni
- 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cubed (about 3 cups)
- 2 cups water (500 ml)
- 1/2 vegetable stock cube
- 250 ml soy single cream
- salt, black pepper
- 1 1/2 tsp curry powder (I used mild yellow Madras curry powder for its great colour and taste)
- sprinkle of oregano and thyme
- 1 pack (190 g) vegan mozzarella, shredded on the fine side of a grater (reserve a handful to sprinkle on top)
- 2 Tb nutritional yeast
- 1/2 cup golden breadcrumbs
1. In a pan add the 2 cups of water, butternut squash pieces, veggie cube, single cream and season with salt. Bring to a boil, cover the pan and reduce heat to low, letting it simmer for 15-20 minutes until the squash is soft. Meanwhile in another pan add water and salt and boil the macaroni al dente.
2. When the squash is soft, remove from heat and use a hand blender to blend everything into a smooth sauce. Add the spices, herbs, nutritional yeast and mozzarella and mix well. Adjust salt if needed. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
3. Drain the macaroni without rinsing and add to the sauce. Mix well and put everything in a lightly oiled dish or casserole.
4. Sprinkle the reserved shredded mozzarella on top.
5. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs evenly on top.
6. Bake the macaroni and cheese for 10-15 minutes on the middle rack until the sauce starts bubbling. I hadn't baked pasta in a long time before yesterday and I totally forgot how quickly it absorbs liquid, so I left it in the oven just a few minutes too long:)
Remove from the oven and serve hot. The longer it sits, the less sauce you will get.
Enjoy and spread the magic! Happy 2012!
If you've tried this dish I would greatly appreciate your feedback. Thank you!