I am sure I am not alone when I say Mac ‘n’ Cheese was a childhood favourite. Often creamy, cheesy pasta is not the healthiest or most nutritious of dishes, however with a few tweaks, this old classic can be reworked to contain more fibre and protein and makes a delicious creamy plant-based pasta dish. If portioned correctly, this can be a stand-alone dish or a small side dish.
I combined two recipes from two books that I love, Niomi Smart’s, ‘Eat Smart’ and Rhiannon Lambert’s, ‘Re-nourish.’ This exceeded my expectations and is now one of my favourite curl-up on the sofa dinners. The recipe below serves two.
200g pasta (I used red lentil pasta)
6 ripe cherry tomatoes
1/4 small butternut squash (approx. 250g), peeled and chopped
40g unsalted raw cashew nuts, soaked in water overnight
125ml of non-dairy milk (I used Alpro Unsweetened Almond Milk)
2tbsp nutritional yeast
2 large handfuls of spinach (optional)
30g rolled oats
1. Preheat the oven to 190*C.
2. For the ‘cheese’ sauce, steam the squash for 15 minutes until soft.
3. Cook the pasta and quinoa in separate pans, according to the packet instructions. Drain both and rinse with cold water. Tip back into the pans and set aside.
4. Drain the soaked cashews and add to a food processor, blender or bowl and hand-blender along with the steamed butternut squash, milk, nutritional yeast and spinach if using.
5. Blend all of the ingredients together until smooth.
6. Stir the cheese sauce into cooked pasta and then spoon into an oven proof dish.
7. For the topping, combine the quinoa with the oats. Scatter this mixture over the mac ‘n’ cheese.
8. Finally add the chopped cherry tomatoes on top.
9. Bake in the oven for 20-24 minutes, or until golden and crispy on top.