As you know we are eating as many vegan meals as possible. This dish would be very easy to make strictly vegan. I used a small amount of butter, however, but it was still vegetarian. Since we are being strict with our fats, macaroni and cheese is certainly a dish that is not on our menu! I ran across this recipe on Pinterest, of course, and this is the second time we've had it. Tonight was the first time our picky eater Cole tried it. I talked it up, calling it a 'Mac n Cheese' dish. It looked enough like baked mac n cheese that he didn't question it. I like ketchup on mine (so sue me) so I suggested he try that because I knew it would give it even more of an authentic taste. He loved it and went back for seconds THEN thirds!! I kept asking him if he wanted to know what was in the dish and he insisted that I do not tell him. That drove me nuts and we all got a laugh out of the fact that I wanted to tell him so badly!
Here is the recipe if you would like to try it. If you are vegan or lactose intolerant you can easily replace the butter in the recipe with a small amount of vegetable broth. It will effect the taste a little, but certainly not enough to spoil the dish.
ROASTED BUTTERNUT SAGE PASTA
First, melt 1/4 c butter slowly until the foam disappears. Add 1 chopped onion and a stem of fresh sage leaves and saute for a few minutes and 1 lb. of diced/cubed butternut squash and 1 1/2 c. water. Cook until the squash is cooked through. You can omit the butter and add some vegetable broth to saute the onion in. Once the squash is cooked well,remove the sage leaves and puree in either a blender or use an immersion blender. The result will be a smooth puree. S & P to taste.
While the squash mixture is cooking, bring a pot of water to a boil and add a good amount of salt to the water before adding your pasta. I used farfalle or some other similar type of pasta. Use a pasta that has curls or edges to help hold the sauce. When it is cooked al dente, drain water reserving 1 cup of liquid. Add the pureed sauce to the pasta and add extra water if needed to make the mixture moist, not dry. At this point, you can serve it like it is, or place in a greased casserole and top with bread or cracker crumbs that are sprayed lightly with cooking spray. Bake in 400 degree oven about 15 minutes, just long enough to brown the crumb topping. Serve (with ketchup!). It truly has a cheesy flavor! It looks like a deep cheddar cheese sauce.
It goes to prove that we eat with our eyes first! If it looks like mac n cheese, it's easier to convince a picky eater that there is cheese in the dish!