Sunday, November 1, 2015

Vegan Pumpkin Macaroni and "Cheese"

Back when we all still ate dairy, one of my favorite recipes for Autumn was a pumpkin mac-n-cheese. There were so many things to love about that recipe... it was warm, hearty and creamy, but also a bit healthier than straight up mac-n-cheese, due to the generous amount of squash in the sauce. When I started moving from vegetarian to vegan a few years ago, I began working on ways to adapt my favorite recipes to suit my new vegan ways. This fall, I finally got around to revamping this one, and I have to say, it's still every bit as delicious as the original recipe, but without the animal products.

Instead of the cheddar and cream called for in the original recipe, this adaptation uses my favorite cashew cheese spread as a base, along with some unsweetened nut milk. The cashew cheese can be made up ahead of time, and kept in the fridge until you need it. I usually make a batch each week to have available for spreading on sandwiches, using as a veggie dip, or making creamy sauces like this one. It will keep up to a week in a sealed container in the fridge.

As for the pumpkin, I like to use fresh roasted pumpkin, but you can use canned if you prefer. If you do use canned, you'll probably need to add a bit more nut milk, as it will be thicker than fresh. To roast your own, cut a sugar pumpkin in half, scoop out the seeds, then place it face down on a greased baking pan and bake at 350 until soft enough to stick a fork in easily. This will take about 45 minutes for an average size pumpkin... adjust accordingly if your pumpkin is larger or smaller. After you bake it, let it cool and scoop the pumpkin out of the skin.

And now for the recipe...

Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese

16 oz box of macaroni (you can use a gluten-free pasta, if you prefer)
1/2 cup cashew cheese
1-1/2 cup of cooked pumpkin
3/4 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk (I use almond, but you could use soy, hemp, whatever)
1/4 tsp nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste

While the pasta is cooking, add all the remaining ingredients to a blender or food processor and blend until creamy, adding more milk if necessary to make a nice, creamy sauce. Transfer to a sauce pan, and heat through.When the pasta is done, drain it and add the sauce, stirring to coat. You can eat it just as is, or you can transfer to a casserole dish, top with breadcrumbs and bake at 350 for 15 minutes.

served up with sauteed kale

If you have leftover cooked pumpkin after you make this, check out these ideas to use up what's left:

Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal (vegan)
Creamy Pumpkin Soup (vegan)
Pumpkin Bread (vegan)

1 comment:

  1. I just saw a similar recipe in the whole foods magazine and thought I needed to try this. Now I have even more of a reason. I keep trying to decrease the animal products in our diet, but it's really difficult!