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Kathryn Budig’s Butternut Squash Mac ’n’ Cheese

butternutsquashmac

MAKES 6 TO 8 SERVINGS

I grew up on a steady diet of boxed macaroni and cheese (it was my dad’s specialty: open box, boil water, and stir in mix). As I grew older, I still craved it, but the excessive dairy always made me ill. I’ve tried tons of vegan versions, and it wasn’t until I played with butternut squash that I found success. This dish is ridiculous. My girlfriends are constantly asking me to whip it up. It’s the ultimate comfort food without the payday that follows. Dig in!

1 butternut squash, peeled, cleaned, and cubed

2 tablespoons extravirgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

2 teaspoons smoked sea salt

2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning

16 ounces brown rice penne

2 to 3 shallots, chopped

2 to 3 garlic cloves, chopped

½ cup white wine

2 teaspoons mustard powder or Dijon mustard

1 cup unsweetened almond milk

1 teaspoon chipotle powder

3 tablespoons nutritional yeast

2 teaspoons paprika

2 teaspoons sea salt, plus more to taste

½ cup gluten-free bread crumbs

½ cup grated Parmesan (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 425?F. Toss the butternut squash with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, the smoked sea salt, and the Cajun seasoning. Roast for 30 to 40 minutes, or until soft. Leave the oven on.

2. Meanwhile, cook the pasta to al dente, following the package directions. Drain and set aside.

3. Sauté the shallots in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil for 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook for another minute. Deglaze the pan with white wine, cooking for 2 minutes and stirring to scrape any browned bits into the sauce; stir in the mustard powder.

4. Combine the roasted squash, almond milk, shallot mixture, chipotle powder, nutritional yeast, paprika, and 2 teaspoons salt in a high-speed blender. Puree until smooth.

5. Grease a 4-quart casserole pan with olive oil or coconut oil spray. Add the cooked pasta and pour the butternut squash mixture on top. Mix well. Top with the bread crumbs, Parmesan, if desired, a quick drizzle of olive oil, and a light shower of sea salt. Bake the casserole for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the top is light gold.

From Aim True by Kathryn Budig. Copyright © 2016 by Kathryn Budig. Reprinted by permission of William Morow Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

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