If, like me, you're trying to follow a healthy diet but keep craving comfort foods, do yourself a favor and pick up vegan chef Chloe Coscarelli's brand-new cookbook Chloe Flavor, which hits shelves March 6 (until then, you can preorder it on amazon.com). It's packed with delicious plant-based recipes to satisfy all your unhealthiest cravings—think cinnamon roll pancakes, McVegan breakfast sandwiches, and General Tso's tofu. My personal favorite, though, is Coscarelli's ridiculously good Butternut Mac. It may be dairy-free, but this dish still delivers plenty of creamy goodness, thanks to ingredients like roasted butternut squash and raw cashews.
I can also attest that it's surprisingly easy to make. After roasting the butternut squash with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper, you blend it with raw cashews, garlic, a pinch of dried rosemary, and water to create a super-silky "cheese" sauce (sans the cheese). I didn't have a big enough blender for all the ingredients, but it worked fine to make the sauce in two batches using my handy NutriBullet.
Mix the sauce with the pasta of your choice (I used Ancient Harvest Organic Quinoa Pasta Elbows), and you're done. To take the recipe up a notch, sprinkle on some paprika and Coscarelli's smoky shiitake "bacon" mushrooms (recipe below).
About 5 cups (20 0z.) peeled and cubed butternut squash
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2¼ tsp. sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 pound elbow macaroni (gluten-free pasta optional)
2 cups water, plus more as needed
½ cup raw cashews
1 garlic clove
½ tsp dried rosemary
Toppings: Smoky Shiitake Bacon (recipe follows) and smoked paprika
- To roast the butternut squash, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. On a small rimmed baking sheet, toss the squash with the olive oil, ¼ teaspoon of the salt, and season with pepper. Roast for about 30 minutes, until fork tender, turning occasionally with a spatula during baking.
- Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook to al dente according to the package directions. Drain the pasta and return it to the pot, off the heat.
- In a blender, combine the roasted butternut squash, water, cashews, garlic, rosemary, and remaining 2 teaspoons of salt. Blend on high speed for about 2 minutes, until very smooth. Add the sauce to the pot with the pasta and toss to coat. Taste and adjust the seasoning. If the sauce is too thick, add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the desired consistency is reached. Top each serving with Smoky Shiitake Bacon and dust with smoked paprika.
Smoky Shiitake Bacon
Yield: About 1/2 cup
About 1 cup (4 oz.) shiitake mushrooms, de-stemmed and thinly sliced (about ¼-inch thick)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
¼ tsp. sea salt, plus more as needed
¼ tsp. smoked paprika
¼ tsp. garlic powder
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
- On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss the mushrooms with the olive oil and salt. Arrange the mushrooms in a single layer. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, turning occasionally with a spatula, until lightly browned and very crisp. Remove from oven and toss with the smoked paprika and garlic powder. Season with salt to taste. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.
Reprinted from Chloe Flavor. Copyright © 2018 by CKC Sales, LLC. Photographs copyright © 2018 by Christina Holmes. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC.