Pumpkin Mac N’ Cheese (Vegan)
- 225g pumpkin (Jap or Butternut), peeled and cut into 5cm chunks (about ¼ medium pumpkin)
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- 3 garlic cloves, unpeeled + 1 extra large garlic clove, peeled
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus a little extra for drizzling
- 5 fresh sage leaves
- ¾ cup unsweetened almond milk (or other dairy-free milk)
- ½ cup raw cashews, soaked for 4 hours, or overnight, drained and rinsed
- 1 teaspoon dried onion flakes (or ½ teaspoon fine onion powder)
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- Juice of ½ lime
- 500g uncooked orecchiette or elbow pasta (or gluten-free alternative)
- Sea salt, black pepper
- 2 cups sourdough breadcrumbs (made from about 150g of day-old sourdough, or sub gluten-free bread/crumbs)
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius (350F) and line a large baking tray with baking (parchment) paper. Place the pumpkin on the tray and sprinkle with smoked paprika, salt and pepper. Add the unpeeled garlic and toss all together with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Spread over the tray and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes, or until the pumpkin is soft and slightly caramelised. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool slightly.
- Transfer the roasted pumpkin to the bowl of a high speed blender, squeeze out the roasted garlic from the skins and add. Add the almond milk, drained cashews, onion flakes, nutritional yeast, 2 tablespoons olive oil, ½ teaspoon fine sea salt and ¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper. Blend until smooth, about 1 minute. Add a good squeeze of lime. Taste and add a little more salt, or lime, if needed.
- Meanwhile, prepare the pasta according to the instructions on the package in salted boiling water, cooking until al dente (just cooked). Strain, reserving ½ cup of pasta water.
- Add the drained pasta back into the saucepan and gently stir through the sauce, adding a little pasta water, to thin slightly, if needed. You want it to be quite saucy, so it doesn’t dry out in the oven. Taste and season with more salt, pepper, if needed. Transfer the pasta to a large (or two smaller) oven-proof dishes.
- Make some sourdough breadcrumbs by pulsing the bread in a food processor, with a 1 large clove of garlic. Sprinkle evenly over the pasta. Season with a little more salt, pepper and drizzle with olive oil.
- Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until the breadcrumbs are lightly golden and crunchy. Serve hot.
Prepare In Advance: Make the sauce and pasta and store separately for up to 3 days in the fridge. Heat the sauce a little first, thinning out once warm, if needed, then combine together just before baking.