Feeding Your Soul
The benefits of comfort food are a real thing, they can keep you uplifted and warm on the inside. Over the years, I’ve discovered that I can adapt traditionally sugar and butter-laden comfort foods to become vibrant and healthy comfort foods that still nourish and feed my soul. One of my go-to’s is my vegan mac and cheese.
SERVES 4 - 6
1 small – medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into approx 2 inch pieces
Coconut oil or olive oil
Sea salt or pink salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large shallot, chopped
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/2 – 3/4 cup vegan parm
12 ounces of gluten free brown rice elbows (I used Jovial), cooked according to directions
Scallions, for topping
Red pepper flakes, for topping
3/4 cup cashews
1/4 cup hemp hearts
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
For the vegan parm: Combine all ingredients in a food processor or hi-speed blender and mix until it turns into a crumbly, fine meal. Store in a container in the fridge, and it will last for a few weeks.
For the mac and cheese: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and toss the squash with oil until just coated. Season with salt and pepper. Bake until cooked through, about 30 or so minutes.
Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium. Add 2 tablespoons of oil; once melted add the onion and shallot and a pinch of salt. Saute until soft, 5 – 7 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for 2 – 3 minutes. Add the turmeric and paprika and toast for one minute, being careful not to burn. You can add a pinch of red pepper flakes here if that’s your thing. Turn off heat and set aside.
Once the squash is cooked through, add a heaping cup to a hi-speed blender or food processor along with the onion mixture and 1/2 cup of vegan parm. Blend with just enough vegetable broth or water until smooth. It should be just pourable but it’s ok if it’s still pretty thick as you’ll use some pasta water to thin it out. Add more vegan parm, as desired, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Cook pasta according to directions, draining and reserving a cup of pasta water. Add the cooked pasta into the same large skillet (no need to wash it after cooking the onion mixture in it), adding about a cup of sauce and a 1/4 cup of the pasta water. Toss the pasta with the sauce until well coated, adding more cheese sauce and pasta water as needed.
Serve in bowls topped with scallions, red pepper flakes, and vegan parm. Enjoy!
Plant-based cook and health coach Lily Kunin is the founder of Clean Food Dirty City and the author of the cookbook Good Clean Food. With her trademark less-is-more approach, Kunin is all about making irresistibly clean, wholesome food—using dairy-free and gluten-free ingredients.