Original Recipe: Butternut Squash Mac n’Cheese

Pasta is a well-known vice of mine, and macaroni and cheese was a particular comfort food for me growing up. Because dairy just does not agree with me and no dish is worth the stomach pains, I had to find another way to enjoy this childhood favorite. I’ve come across many of these recipes using butternut squash, but I like to play around until I come up with my idea of perfection. The sauce is creamy, cheezy, and satisfying, (with a “z” to distinguish from ACTUAL cheese), and truly is the ultimate comfort food. We had a bout of extremely cold, windy, wintry weather this weekend, and I made this Friday night in a desperate attempt to warm my bones. It worked! I think you’ll find it quite effective too.

Also, this recipe is a great way to sneak in some extra veggies. I add some of this into my hubby’s “real” mac n’ cheese — it allows me to use less butter and milk and therefore cuts the fat significantly. He doesn’t seem to notice 😉

This recipe takes a little preparation, so I recommend making the cashew cheeze ahead of time. (I pretty much always have a batch made — it’s so versatile!) Otherwise it takes less then 30 minutes to prepare. So, without further ado:

Butternut Squash Penne & Cheeze

Serves 3-4 (depending on who you’re feeding — I have a 16-year-old son, so this only feeds the two of us!)

Ingredients:

  • 1 small butternut squash
  • 1/2 box penne pasta
  • 1 cup cashew cheeze (see below)
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to taste

Prepare the butternut squash one of two ways.

1) Quick prep – fill a casserole dish with about 1 inch of water. Slice the butternut squash and place the halves face down in the dish. Cover with plastic wrap (BPA free) and microwave for 10-15 minutes until pierced easily with a knife.

2) If you’re not pressed for time, preheat oven to 400. Cut squash in half and brush with olive oil. Place face down on a baking sheet and roast for 20-25 minutes until pierced easily with a knife. (I prefer this method simply because roasting brings out some great flavor from the squash!)

Cook pasta while squash is cooking, as per usual pasta-boiling directions.

Cashew Cheeze:

  • 1 cup raw, unsalted cashews (boiled for 10 minutes)
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2/3 cup warm water
  • pinch sea salt
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp yellow mustard
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth, scraping down sides as needed. Scoop cooked squash out of the skin and into the food processor. Blend until it looks like this:

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Your cheeze sauce is ready. When pasta is done cooking and has been drained, dump it back into the pot and pour the cheeze sauce over the top. Stir well to combine, season to taste, and serve immediately. Served with steamed broccoli or other favorite green veggie.

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Dig in!!

Peace, love, and veggies,

Jean

 

 

 

Vegan Kale Pesto

This pesto is so versatile. It’s great on pasta, but also in wraps or as a pizza sauce. I’ve even dipped raw veggies in it. It’s super simple to make, too!

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Ingredients: 

2 cups kale, stems removed

1/2 cup fresh basil leaves

2 cloves garlic, peeled

Juice of 1/2 lemon

1/4 cup olive oil

2 Tbsp nutritional yeast

1/4 cup walnuts, toasted (optional)

Place all but olive oil in a food processor and process until chopped. With the motor running, stream in the olive oil. Pulse until you have a smooth paste consistency. Enjoy with, well, whatever!