Sunday, January 27, 2013

Vegan Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

Vegan Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese

This weekend I wanted to make a new and unique vegan dish. I found a Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese recipe on my new favorite vegan food blog, Oh She Glows and adjusted it slightly. I added some more herbs, spices and made it a little creamier. Rich and I were getting a little tired of our Comfort Food Vegan Mac & Cheese recipe. I actually made it for my mom and siblings one night a few months ago and couldn't believe how much oil was in it! I guess my standards and tastes have changed since I first started vegan cooking a few years ago. I realized it was tasty, but not particularly healthy and haven't made it since. 

I choose the Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese originally because it had a much lower fat content when compared with most vegan mac & cheese recipes. I was very happy with the end result. It tasted less like mac & cheese than our comfort food version, but I really enjoyed the unique flavor. The butternut squash gave it an earthy undertone and the nutritional gave a hint of the traditional mac & cheese flavor. I think the consistency of this meal was the best part. The consistency was creamy and it really looked like traditional mac & cheese. 

The end result reinforced my vegan food philosophy: We don't need to replicate the exact flavor of non-vegan dishes with loads of artificial flavors, salt, and sugar. It is better to create new, healthier versions of old favorites and embrace the flavor as a new creation.

Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese Ingredients
2 cups of chopped butternut squash (you could substitute with canned butternut squash)
1 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves of garlic minced
1 tsp of dried oregano
2 cups soymilk (divided)
2 tbsp cornstarch
¾ cup nutritional yeast
4 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
½ tsp kosher salt
1tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 16oz package of gluten free pasta (rice or quinoa work well)
¾ cup chopped kale
Top with Hungarian Smoked Paprika

1.   Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

2.   Peel and chop 2 cups of butternut squash (about one medium sized squash).
3.   Bring a pot of water to boil and follow pasta directions on package.
4.   While the squash is baking, heat the olive oil in a saucepan on medium for about 1 minute.
5.   Add minced garlic and oregano. Sauté these for 2 minutes to bring out flavor.
6.   Bring the heat down to medium-low.
7.   Add 1.5 cups of soymilk and cornstarch, whisk until there are no clumps.
8.   Whisk in the nutritional yeast, the consistency will really start to thicken here.
9.   Add mustard, lemon juice, salt, and pepper mixing well.
10.       Remove the saucepan from heat.
11.       When the squash is done, let it cool for about 15 minutes. This time of year you can expedite the process by letting it sit on the fire escape. J
12.       Mix the squash and remaining soymilk in a food processor or with an electric mixer (1/2 cup).
13.       Add the butternut squash mixture to the “cheesy” mixture, whisk together until combined.
14.       Pour the sauce over the pasta and mix in chopped kale.
15.       Top with Hungarian Smoked Paprika and enjoy!

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