Everyone has a favorite mac and cheese recipe. This one, which uses sweet, creamy butternut squash in the sauce, is mine. To create an authentic cheese flavor, I use a combination of nutritional yeast, miso, smoked paprika, salt, and lemon juice. I highly recommend including the optional vegetables. In addition to providing some contrasting color and texture, they’ll round out the meal, so you won’t have to worry about making an extra side dish. Reprinted with permission from Food52 Vegan by Gena Hamshaw © 2015, published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Photographs copyright © 2015 by James Ransom.
- 1 1⁄2 to 2 pounds butternut squash (about 1 medium), peeled and cubed (see Note)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- 3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
- 1⁄2 cup coconut milk
- 1 1⁄4 cups unsweetened almond milk
- 1⁄2 cup plus 2 tablespoons large-flake nutritional yeast
- 1 tablespoon arrowroot powder
- 1⁄4 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon white miso
- 1 pound elbow pasta
- 2 cups cooked vegetables (optional; choose from steamed chopped spinach, blanched peas, or lightly steamed broccoli florets)
- 1⁄2 cup dry breadcrumbs
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Oil a 7 by 11-inch pan.
- Coat the squash with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, then spread it evenly on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until very tender and just starting to brown. Remove from the oven. Decrease the oven temperature to 350°F.
- Meanwhile, heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, until just starting to brown. Add the coconut milk and 3⁄4 cup of the almond milk.
- Whisk in the nutritional yeast and arrowroot powder. Cook, whisking constantly, until nice and thick, about 5 minutes.
- Transfer the sauce to a large bowl and add the remaining 1⁄2 cup of almond milk, the butternut squash, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1⁄4 teaspoon of pepper, and the paprika, lemon juice, and miso. Stir to distribute the ingredients somewhat evenly.
- Working in batches, transfer to a blender or food processor and process until totally smooth and creamy.
- Bring a pot of salted water to boil over high heat. Add a drizzle of olive oil to prevent sticking. Stir in the pasta and adjust the heat to maintain a low boil. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is al dente. Drain well and let cool briefly.
- Put the pasta in a large bowl and add the vegetables. Add the sauce, using only 2 cups of it if not adding the optional vegetables. Stir gently until thoroughly combined. Spread the mixture evenly in the prepared pan and scatter the breadcrumbs evenly over the top.
- Bake for 20 minutes, until the top is golden. Serve right away.
Note: If you don’t have a good knife, see How to Cut a Butternut Squash Without Losing Your Mind.
- Here are more Contemporary Casseroles.
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