Even as a food blogger and lover of cooking, sometimes I just don’t want to be in the kitchen, especially when I get back late from a rehearsal or the gym and am too burnt to even think. And, on those occasions, sometimes leftovers just won’t cut it. So, I head for the healthiest frozen comfort food I know – Amy’s vegan mac ‘n cheeze with rice pasta. I usually like to add some vegetables to it (steamed broccoli, spinach, tomatoes, etc.) to make it a bit more nutritious, but when I reached for the freezer this past week, a new addition crossed my mind. You’ve probably already guessed it.
“What about pumpkin?” I know, I know, I’m still in the pumpkin phase. But Halloween’s over, so
I’ll be over it soon I’ll be buying 20-30 cans of pumpkin to last me through the year.
Anyway, at the thought of this, I called in one of my roommates and ran the idea past her, which she promptly made a face at and declared was disgusting. I was still determined, so I headed to Google, where I found a Vegan Pumpkin Mac ‘n Cheeze recipe by the wonderful Oh She Glows. Therefore, I owe a lot of credit for this recipe to Angela, and to Bob. Bob’s Red Mill, that is. Their nutritional yeast has a recipe for vegan cheeze on the back :P I don’t eat vegan, and I LOVE cheese, although I do like to keep dairy as a “once-in-a-while” food. Also, if you’re like me and you love cooking for others and entertaining, it’s nice to have tricks up your sleeve to meet different dietary needs. Plus, this is so flavorful that your omnivorous guests hopefully won’t care that there’s no actual cheese in it.
For this recipe, I also used Ancient Harvest brand quinoa pasta. I like quinoa pasta a lot, because its taste and texture are (to me) most akin to that of regular pasta. It feels sinful to eat, but it actually isn’t! Plus, quinoa pasta is a great substitute for all the gluten-free folks out there.
The sauce for this is also chock-full of warm, woodsy herbs which compliment the pumpkin really well. But, the sweet pumpkin flavor itself it hardly overwhelming. Instead, it thickens the sauce and gives it a beautiful orange color. This sauce could also be repurposed for other things, like vegan nachos. I mean, it tasted pretty good when I scraped the pot with some spicy blue corn chips, so I’m just assuming…
Vegan Baked Pumpkin Mac ‘n Cheese
(Serves 7-8 appropriately, 5-6 realistically)
- Dry 8-12 oz. pasta of your choice
- 1 & 1/2 cups regular, unsweetened almond milk
- 2 tbs. vegan butter substitute (I used earth balance with olive oil)
- 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
- 2 heaping tsp. dijon mustard
- 1 cup pumpkin purée
- 2 tbs. regular or gluten free oat flour
- 1/2 tsp coarsely chopped rosemary (fresh or dried)
- 1/2 tsp thyme (fresh or dried)
- 1/4 tsp paprika
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 3/4 cup vegan cheese substitute, like Daiya (optional)
Preheat oven to 375˚F. Cook pasta according to directions on box and drain. If using quinoa pasta, the pasta will become very sticky after you drain it, so I would recommend stirring in a teaspoon of your vegan butter substitute to keep the noodles from sticking together. In a saucepan over medium heat, warm the almond milk, stirring occasionally. Whisk in your butter substitute, nutritional yeast, mustard, pumpkin, and oat flour until the sauce has thickened and begins to bubble. Remove sauce from heat and combine with pasta. (Note: you don’t have to use all the sauce, as this recipe makes a LOT… I totally used all of it.)
Prepare a greased skillet or baking dish. If using a vegan cheese substitute, pour in half of the pasta mixture, and sprinkle half of the vegan cheese on the first layer. Then, pour the rest of the pasta on and repeat with the remaining cheese. Bake for about 10-15 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and/or the outer layer begins to brown a bit.