Zesty Mac and Cheese (Vegan AND PALEO!)
So…. Let’s talk about fall. Let’s talk about….. how I have a closet full of sweaters, I’ve done really well and haven’t bought any new ones (because where the hell am I going, let’s be totally honest), but am bummed because normally I get to go to wineries, fun parties…. Who am I kidding, WORK is my fashion show. Even still, the little things I miss the most have gotten to me a bit… down.
So, I eat my feelings. Working on that…. But for now, we eat.
I’ve been trying to eat a lot less meat in general, and with that – I figure, why not reduce animal stuff altogether? It isn’t actually difficult once you know some basic swaps – vegetable broth for chicken broth, vegan mayo for regular, dairy-free milks (cashew, almond and oat for ones without flavor!)… even if you’re not looking to go “vegan” per se, I find that these little swaps are great ways to cut down cholesterol, sodium or calories in general, if you need to. That, and I have several friends that have dietary restrictions, so I love a challenge.
I was familiar with butternut squash as a sauce, but this was kind of a “winging it” type of thing. Some of these ingredients aren’t normal things one has in their kitchen, but they’re worth buying, and at least in my area, can be found pretty easily. If you have an immersion blender or regular blender, you’ll need it for tonight.
Please note… as good as this is, I realize that some of my friends reading this just want the real thing. Just shoot me an email if you want a real Pennsyl-tucky dairy filled Mac-and-cheese recipe…., my mama makes a mean recipe I also happen to know how to make…. 😉
Zesty Mac and Cheese (Vegan with PALEO option!)
Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 45 min
- 1 1/2 cups paleo-friendly noodles, like Jovial Cassava noodles
- 2 cups of cubed butternut squash, fresh or frozen
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 2 tbsp vegan sour cream (I love this brand, search the link where to find it – omit if strict paleo!)
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp paprika
- ½ tsp chili powder
- 1 heaping tbsp cumin
- 1 tsp sea salt
- Sprinkle of pepper to taste
- 2 tbsp vegan butter, or ghee
- ½ cup of vegetable broth, plus more if needed for texture
optional – breadcrumbs:
- 2 tbsp almond flour (if not paleo, panko breadcrumbs can be used)
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- sprinkle of sea salt
- 1 tsp of parsley
- In a sauce pan, add a tbsp of your preferred cooking fat, your onion and squash. Sauté your onion and butternut squash until soft, about 7-8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cover with a lid to ensure steam stays in to soften them faster.
- Once soft, add your vegetable broth. Continue to simmer for another 2-3 minutes, adding some salt and pepper. Now, add your paprika, garlic, cumin and chili powder.
- At this step, you can either use your immersion blender to puree until smooth, or place into a blender and puree until smooth. The texture should be somewhat thick like cheese sauce and soupy, but not thick like veggies or thin like soup. Add vegetable broth accordingly to adjust texture. Set sauce aside so that the flavors can meld.
- In a separate put, bring water to a boil – add your noodles, and boil until al dente.
- While they’re boiling, preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a skillet or pyrex dish (my skillet is an 8 inch mini Lodge skillet).
- Once noodles are cooked and drained according to cooking instruction, Mix them into your sauce. It may look like you have “too much sauce”, but it will absorb slightly into the noodles once baked. Place into your skillet or baking dish, and bake until golden, about 20-25 minutes.
- While your macaroni is baking, if using paleo breadcrumbs, mix together all breadcrumb ingredients in a dry small frying pan and toast slightly over medium heat until starting to brown. If using regular breadcrumbs – no need to pre-toast. With 5 minutes left of cooking, remove the mac and cheese and sprinkle your breadcrumbs over top – bake another 5 minutes until starting to brown further, but not burning.
- Serve while hot. Enjoy!