This pumpkin macaroni cheese is a take on an hold favourite. Growing up in Scotland macaroni cheese was one of my core food groups. Be it out of a box courtesy of Kraft, in a Gregg’s macaroni pie, homemade with a criminal amount of grated cheese, milk and butter or as the standard veggie pub grub option I would usually have it once a week. My arteries were probably rejoicing when I gave up dairy! It was probably the dish I missed the most and since becoming vegan 18 months ago I’ve had mixed experiences with veganised versions. The first that I made with a cashew-based sauce was ok but it definitely wasn’t rich, gooey and cheesy like the real deal. I’ve also made a basic cheese sauce simply with almond milk, dairy-free butter, flour and tons of nutritional yeast. But undoubtedly the best that I’ve made have had butternut squash or pumpkin as the source of starch in the sauce.
I had a pumpkin for Halloween and I always use the insides for cooking. Last year I made a tasty pumpkin and chickpea curry and I love to dry and roast the pumpkin seeds. It baffles me that people throw them away when they cost so much in a bag! My pumpkin only cost 79p from Lidl and I didn’t get even get one of the biggest that was available. Given that a bag of pumpkin seeds can set you back around £5 the seeds are the most valuable part! Anyway, enough on food waste and back to the recipe.
You can substitute the pumpkin for butternut squash or sweet potato if you prefer or if pumpkins aren’t available.
This recipe is based on one from Making Thyme for Health which I’ve only recently discovered and has a decent range of health vegan recipes.
Pumpkin macaroni and cheese
- 2 cups of chopped pumpkin (could replace with butternut squash)
- 250g macaroni
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 white onion, finely chopped
- 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp chilli powder (optional)
- 1 stock cube
- 1/2 cup dairy-free milk
- 1/3 cup of nutritional yeast
- Salt and pepper
- 2 cups of kale, stems removed and finely chopped (optional)
- 1/2 cup grated non-dairy cheese (optional)
If you’re using fresh pumpkin cut it into chunks. I also use all the string bits as it’s going to get blended anyway. Boil for 10 minutes until soft. Drain.
Cook the macaroni as per the instructions on the packet (c. 10 minutes).
Meanwhile heat 1 tbsp olive oil and fry 1/2 the onions and all of the garlic for a few minutes until soft. Make 1/2 cup of stock with the stock cube. Add the turmeric, paprika and chilli powder to the onion and garlic and stir. Then add 1/4 cup of the stock. Add the pumpkin and cook for five minutes.
Add half the milk and nutritional yeast then blend until smooth. Add the rest of the milk tablespoon at a time until you get the thickness you want. If you want it thicker add 1 tablespoon of cornflour or plain flour. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
If you don’t want kale in it leave out this step. Fry the rest of the onion until soft. Add 3/4 of the kale and the rest of the stock and cook until the kale is wilted.
Add the pumpkin sauce to this then add your pasta cup at a time so that you get your desired sauce to pasta ratio.
Transfer to an overproof dish and top with the rest of the kale and the cheese if you’re using it. Grill for 5 minutes until crispy on top. Enjoy!