Somehow there is no way around mac’n’cheese when you live in the UK and have kids. It’s on most kids menus, be it in school or a restaurant and I get why kids love it, but (and there’s a whole lot of ‘buts’..). Anyway, there was no question that I had to come up with my own, healthy take on it. And suddenly mac’n’cheese is a regular in our house, no red flags, but all green ticks instead.
What you need:
400g whole wheat macaroni pasta
1kg butternut squash (weight includes skin) – peeled, seeds removed, cut into small chunks
2 tbsp rapeseed oil
2 garlic cloves – finely chopped or use a garlic press
3 tbsp rapeseed oil – this is to make the ‘cheese sauce’ now
4 tbsp plain white flour
300ml unsweetened plant milk – I use soy milk
3 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
1 tsp mustard powder
Half a teaspoon turmeric powder
Half a teaspoon nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste
300g frozen peas
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp garlic granules
How you do it:
In a frying pan heat up 2 tbsp of rapeseed oil before adding the butternut squash chunks.
Fry them on high heat for a few minutes stirring frequently before turning down the heat and covering the pan with a lid.
Gently fry for approx. 30mins, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile boil a large pan of lightly salted water and cook your macaroni pasta.
Once the butternut squash is about 5mins away from being cooked (you want it very soft and creamy), add the garlic and give it a good stir.
Transfer the garlicky butternut chunks to a food processor and blend for a minute.
Now add all your spices – nutritional yeast, mustard powder, turmeric, nutmeg and some salt – 3tbsp of rapeseed oil, the flour and a third of the plant milk.
Blend while slowly adding the rest of the plant milk until you get a smooth, creamy sauce.
Taste and add salt and pepper if necessary.
Once al dente (meaning it still has a little bit of 'bite'), it's time to drain your pasta.
Reusing the same frying pan add 1tbsp of olive oil to any leftover oil still in the pan and, on low heat, fry the breadcrumbs adding the garlic granules after a minute or two.
Stir frequently and keep a close eye on it as it browns very quickly.
Once the breadcrumbs are lightly browned and crunchy add a pinch of salt and turn off the hob.
Pour your butternut ‘cheese’ sauce into the pasta pan, then add the frozen peas and – on low heat – mix everything gently until hot.
Stir in roughly ¾ of the breadcrumbs, then serve up with an extra sprinkle of breadcrumbs and some coarse black pepper (optional) on top.