Some folks will be celebrating Valentine’s Day this month. This inspired a look at the process of love as an important ingredient in whatever dish we bring to the table. During our Africa fundraiser workshop we looked at just this. What is it that we wish to celebrate on Valentine’s Day or any other day that has been given to us? What is our most important ingredient? Can we right Now, right Here, practice the deepest desire of our Heart?? What a fun exploration! This month you are invited to practice the process of unconditional love, gratitude, curiosity, wonder, reverence….the deepest desire of your Heart as you cook. For inspiration, below is a classic comfort food recipe with a vegan twist. Love on!
Butternut Squash Mac ‘n Cheese (by Angela Liddon)
For the butternut squash:
- 1 large or 2 medium (2 to 3 pounds total) butternut squash, halved and seeded (For a quick and easy option, swap the roasted butternut squash for 1 cup of canned butternut squash or pumpkin puree.)
- Grapeseed, olive, or sunflower oil
- Fine sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
For the cheese sauce:
- 1 cup roasted butternut squash
- 1 Tbsp. vegan buttery spread
- 3/4 cup unsweetened and unflavored almond milk
- 1 Tbsp. potato starch or cornstarch
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast, or more to taste
- 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
- 3/4 tsp. garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp. onion powder
- 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice, or more to taste
- 1/2 to 3/4 tsp. fine sea salt, to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 to 3 tsp. chickpea miso (or other light miso), to taste
For the pasta:
- 8 ounces macaroni, mini shell, or rotini pasta (use gluten-free, if desired)
- Mix-ins of choice (e.g., cooked squash, kale, spinach, broccoli, peas, etc.)
- Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or spray with oil. Lightly spray or brush the oil onto the orange flesh of each squash half. Garnish with salt and pepper. Place the halves cut-side down on the baking sheet. Roast for about 35 to 50 minutes, uncovered, until a fork or knife easily slides through the squash. The skin will be lightly browned and the squash may be brown in some spots (which only adds to the flavor).
- When there are about 20 minutes left of the squash’s roasting time, cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain.
- After the squash is finished cooking, flip it flesh-side up and let it cool for 10 minutes or so before handling.
- Into a blender add the cheese sauce ingredients (butter, milk, starch, nutritional yeast, Dijon, garlic and onion powder, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and miso) along with 1 lightly packed cup of the roasted squash (simply spoon it out of the skin and measure). Blend on high until smooth.
- Add the cooked and drained pasta back into the pot and stir in all of the cheese sauce. Chop the leftover squash into small cubes, scoop the cubes out of the skin, and add them into the pot (along with any other mix-ins you like). Heat over medium and stir until thickened. Add more salt and pepper to taste (and more lemon juice if you want a bit more brightness). Serve immediately.