Sunday, December 29, 2013

Vegan Mac and cheese, dairy-free soy-free nut-free, made with pumpkin!

Ok so you'll now think I'm a huge tree-hugger, but I assure you I'm not. I'm not a vegan or a vegetarian, but I will eat and enjoy just about anything.  This recipe is several years in the making, and arose out of my need to use home-grown produce and my wife's and children's allergen needs.  I assure you it is delicious if not just like the real thing, much better for you and a great use for that frozen squash.  If you don't have nutritional yeast, it's still good, but the yeast gives it a nice cheesy flavor.  If you do stock a full line of vegan dairy foods like we do, I recommend adding some vegan provolone, cream cheese, cheddar, or other creamy substitutes.  If you are not strictly vegetarian or vegan, you might add a chicken bullion cube for even better flavor. Here you go:

2 Tablespoons olive oil or Earth Balance spread
2 Tablespoons flour
1-2 cups squash or pumpkin puree (I use neck, fairytale, cushaw, but any will do)
1 cup milk (rice, coconut, soy or regular depending on your needs)
2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast or brewers yeast
1 clove garlic (or 1 teaspoon dried)
1 small onion minced (or 1 Tablespoon dried)
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground chile powder (I use ancho or guajillo)
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil over medium heat.  If using fresh onion/garlic, saute briefly then add flour.  Stir for a few minutes to form a roux, then slowly add pumpkin and milk, stirring constantly until incorporated and thick.  Bring to a boil, then stir in remaining ingredients and reduce heat.  Cover and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  For the creamiest texture, pour into a blender and puree for a minute or two.  Pour over your favorite pasta and enjoy, and don't feel guilty about eating a pound of mac n cheese!

Another option:  Add 1 cup or so of cooked cauliflower into the mixture before pureeing.  Then you can skip the roux because the cauliflower will make it very thick.  It will change the flavor considerably and will add a ton of nutrition to your mac!

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