Macinsquash.

12 Mar

There is a restaurant near me that I’ve been to a couple times who serves a “cheeseless” mac ‘n cheese. They are by no means a vegan restaurant – not even vegetarian – but this dish seems to be a staple and a favorite among many.  Not surprisingly, because it is DELICIOUS.  Recently, I decided I wanted to try and recreate it.  All I knew was that it contained butternut squash… and pasta… so, I briefly browsed through recipes online for vegan mac ‘n cheese, to see what people were using to give it the “cheese-like” consistency.  I came to two conclusions: nutritional yeast, and daiya vegan cheese.  Ugh.  Since I refuse to use overly processed vegan “cheese”, and something about nutritional yeast weirds me out… maybe it’s the name, maybe I should start calling it by it’s ethiopian name “yeshi”… or maybe I should just (wo)man up and use it… but either way, the point is I didn’t want to use it in this recipe.  So, off to my own drawing board!

I just decided to wing it, and see what would come of it!

….first step, roast the squash!

Since I was making this dish vegan, I used almond milk (hoping it would give a little nutty creamy flavor), and thickened it with arrowroot powder, adding a little turmeric for color (and anti-inflammatory benefit!).  Onions and garlic? sure… might add a nice touch…I suppose I’ll sauté those together…  now it’s time to turn to my ever-so-handy cuisinart and blend everything into oblivion. tasty oblivion.  cook pasta. mix together. bake….. voila!

Ok ok, but let’s back up, and go over those ingredients and process in list form :)  Also, you can totally still add cheese if you just want a healthier mac ‘n cheese and don’t need/want this to be vegan.  I tried it both ways, one dish as just the squash mixture, and the other I added sharp cheddar cheese. Both were really good! Have fun with it, adjust the ingredients to your own taste, if you wish. Also, this recipe is gluten free if you use a gluten free pasta!!

Ingredients:

makes an 8×14″ baking pan, 6-8 servings

  • 16 oz pasta of your choice (I like shells! and next time I will use quinoa pasta…gluten free!!)
  • 1 medium butternut squash (about 2 to 3 cups, once roasted/mashed)
  • 1-1/2 + cup unsweetened and unflavored almond milk
  • 1/4 medium yellow onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic (or more to taste)
  • 1 tsp arrowroot powder
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tsp turmeric (optional)
  • +/- 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese (optional, if you don’t want it vegan)

Process:

  1. Heat oven to 375 F, cut squash in half, remove seeds, brush lightly with olive oil, and roast for 40 minutes or until done (should be very soft). You can also peel the squash and cut into cubes, and roast the cubes if you are short on time (they’ll roast faster).
  2. Spoon the squash out of the peel (unless you peeled it and cubed it already), discard the peel. You should get somewhere between 2 and 3 cups of squash mash. Set aside.
  3. Cook the pasta, set aside when done.
  4. While the squash and pasta are cooking, dice the 1/4 onion and garlic.  Saute onion and garlic together with a little olive oil for 5 or 10 minutes until onions are soft and slightly caramelized. Remove from heat and set aside.
  5. In a medium saucepan, bring 1-1/2 cups almond milk to a simmer (not boiling), add arrowroot powder and turmeric.  Stir continuously until the mixture thickens. Remove from heat and set aside.
  6. Now, hopefully you have a cuisinart! If not, you can do this in a blender.  Throw everything you just made into the cuisenart MINUS the pasta. The squash, the onion/garlic, and the almond milk mixture. Blend it all together, scraping down the sides to make sure everything fully incorporates together.  Now is the time you have to use your judgement…. you might need to add a little more almond milk if the mixture seems too thick (this will all depend on how much squash you got out of your squash), so add almond milk and keep blending until the mixture is more like the consistency of yogurt.  Also, add salt to taste! I probably added about 2 teaspoons.. but I didn’t measure. Just add a little, blend, taste, add more if needed.. repeat.
  7. When your mixture is satisfactory to you, put the pasta into a big mixing bowl, and pour the squash mixture over it. mix mix mix! Now’s the time to add cheese if you are going to.
  8. Spoon the mixture evenly into a 8×14 baking dish (or similar), and bake for 30 or so minutes at 375 F, until the top starts to brown a little. Remove from oven, and serve right away! Enjoy!!
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9 Responses to “Macinsquash.”

  1. Sung March 12, 2012 at 3:26 am #

    Did the vegan version taste cheesy?

    I use the mozzarella Daiya for pizza. It’s the closest thing to “real” cheese that I’ve found, though it still tastes like low-quality cheese (you know, the kind they put on the cheap cardboard pizzas that you got in college because you spent all your money on beer).

    • ChowVida March 12, 2012 at 4:14 am #

      it did! i mean, squashy cheesy.. it was smooth and “creamy” but of course didn’t have the stringyness of melted cheese. You could try it with cheddar daiya, or a low lactose sheeps milk cheese if it’s just for avoiding lactose?

  2. Johanna March 12, 2012 at 11:19 am #

    Love this; can’t wait to try it.
    Whole-wheat pasta for me.
    x

  3. Laura Bärthel March 19, 2012 at 6:26 am #

    Oh wow, this sounds sooo good! YUM!
    I cant get squash right now where I live, so Ill try it with roasted kohlrabi. Cant wait, thanks for sharing!

    • ChowVida March 19, 2012 at 6:37 am #

      Laura – let me know how it turns out using kohlrabi!! Sounds yummy!

      • Laura Bärthel March 19, 2012 at 7:09 pm #

        I just made it for dinner tonight and absolutely loved it! Sooo creamy, sooo indulgent and so chock full of veggies. YUM! I opted for a light sprinkle of cheese in the sauce as well as on top and that was super good. Im sure it would have been awesome vegan, too, though.
        The kohlrabi got sweet and aromatic during roasting, quite like a butternut actually and paired wonderfully with the roasted onion and garlic. Such a winner, thanks again for sharing!

      • ChowVida March 19, 2012 at 11:21 pm #

        So glad to hear it was delicious!!! Maybe i’ll have to try it with kohlrabi one of thesr days! Thanks for sharing!! :)

  4. Jean Howe April 12, 2012 at 12:22 am #

    just had this made last night for a last dinner for Marcy before she leaves for the US. We finished off the whole pan of it (just about but only because there was dessert). Fabulous and I did the cheese bit and agree would put some parmasean on top as it browns. Nice going!

    • ChowVida April 12, 2012 at 11:58 pm #

      yay! glad it turned out and you enjoyed it!

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