Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Recipe: Vegan Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese

Alright, I can hear the criticisms now.  A vegan mac and cheese?  Yes, friends, it's possible.  And no, there's no cheese.  But! Some recipes do a great job with non-cheese mac dishes, so I decided to try my hand at it.

I went with a recipe from Le Petite Eats.  It seemed pretty straightforward, so I went to the local store and picked up all the ingredients, including something called nutritional yeast, which I'd never heard of before.  I'll be honest, however, and mention that this was not a pure vegan mac and cheese.  I wasn't willing to pay eight bucks for a giant portion of vegan butter substitute when all I needed was 2 tablespoons, so I used regular butter instead.  There.  Now that that's off my chest...

I began by steaming the cut up butternut squash in a vegetable steamer.

Then, started putting all the ingredients together under instruction of the recipe.  It was weird how many spices I would need to add flavor since with a regular mac and cheese, it's relatively straightforward.

There was also the need for a kind of vegan bechamel sauce.  This recipe used cashews and almond milk.  Not many cashews.  Just a handful.  It was hard not to just eat them.  Mmmmm, cashews...

There was also a fair amount of prep for the sage breadcrumb topping.  Some butter, breadcrumbs, garlic and sage leaves all had to be prepped and made crispy over the stove.

As I started to realize how many steps would be included in this recipe, I decided some wine was in order to get me though the journey.

After the butternut squash had been steamed to a soft, easy to cut state, it was time to puree in the blender.  This actually proved pretty challenging since the butternut squash kept forming a kind of air pocket above the rotating blades, so I had to constantly start and stop the blender to pop the air pocket.

Once the butternut squash puree was ready, I started the process of heating up the bechamel sauce.  Once that was hot and formed a somewhat thicker consistency (it never really got all that thick...), I added in the butternut squash puree and mixed it all together.

Then it was time to add in the noodles.  The sauce was so thin that it almost didn't even seem to cover all the noodles.  It also didn't help that they were basically the same color.

Then, everything was transferred into an oven safe bowl and topped with the sage and breadcrumb topping.  Popped into the oven for 20 minutes to toast the breadcrumbs, and then, it was done!

The final product had a pretty okay flavor.  I don't know that I would call it a mac and cheese substitute really, but my boyfriend seemed to enjoy it.  He even went back for seconds.

Unfortunately for me, I did not have such an enjoyable time with this recipe.  I'm slightly convinced that I may have had some kind of allergic or intolerant response to the nutritional yeast.  It's possible it was also some bad butternut squash, but since I had such a negative reaction and my boyfriend was relatively fine, I have a feeling it was more than that.

So, that's what I get for trying to go vegan (or almost vegan).  I guess it's good I still really like cheese.

Happy New Year 2016!  I hope the year ahead is filled with lots of good times and good meals.  And good macs! :)

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