Last week I was running errands when I came across a man sitting cross-legged on a street corner, bundled up in blankets. I stopped and handed him the brownie I had wrapped up for this very reason. Walking away, I felt an ache in my heart knowing that- in that very moment- there wasn’t much else I could have done to change the man’s circumstances. Each day I see countless people walk pass those in need on the sidewalks without giving a second glance. It’s easy to dehumanize the homeless and to forget that they, too, are real people with very real feelings and a backstory we don’t know about. It’s easy to pass judgment, and it’s easy to forget that everyone is fighting a battle we don’t know about. What I find the most interesting is that people always seem to have “spare change” for the latest smart phone, television, or pair of shoes, but never seem to be able to spare change- or even kindness- for those who are truly in need. Even if change can’t be spared, let us be more conscious, kind, and empathetic this holiday season. (And, you know, all other seasons…)
Below zero weather has officially hit Toronto and the only thing I want to do after a long day at work is cozy up at home with something warm. My intake of fresh, leafy greens has significantly decreased; in an attempt to eat almost exclusively local produce, most of my vegetables consist of root vegetables: winter squash, sweet potatoes, potatoes, onions, carrots, and beets. I usually make myself soup or a lazy salad with roasted vegetables, but it can get boring after a while and I like to mix things up. Cue: this vegan butternut squash mac and cheese, which is warm and melty and basically everything you want to eat in the winter. This dish doesn’t require much of a recipe and you could really ace it by just tasting, which is, realistically, what I do every time I make it. BUT for everyone’s sake (and mine, I suppose) I decided to write down some measurements each time. This recipe is tried and true, and if you love nutritional yeast, garlic, and pasta as much as I do, I think you’ll love this mac and “cheese”. I first shared this recipe on the site two years ago, but it was very poorly photographed. So this is really vegan butternut squash mac and cheese 2.0.
Before we get onto the recipe… some stuff that caught my eye this week in the food and sustainability world:
- COP21! The Paris Climate Summit is happening from November 30th to December 11 so there’s quite a bit going on in the sustainability world. I marched with Greenpeace at the 100% Possible March today (writing this on Sunday Nov 29th), but more on that another time.
- Tales Of A Warmer Planet via The New York Times
- Climate Change Could Have Link With Terrorism, UN Chief Ban Ki-moon tells CBC via CBC
- This Week Will Be The Last Time Anyone Alive Experiences a C02 Level Below 400ppm via Daily Kos
- Pope Francis Speaks Out Against GMOs via the Tanzania Alliance for Biodiversity
- More Than Half The Trees In The Amazon At Risk Of Extinction. Are Your Groceries To Blame? via Civil Eats
NOTES: If you prefer a runnier sauce, add nut milk as needed or until you reach your desired consistency. I used orecchiette in lieu of macaroni but use whatever pasta your heart desires :)
- 1 large butternut squash, around 1 kg, chopped into cubes
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil for roasting + another 2
- 5 cloves garlic
- 3/4 cup nutritional yeast + more if desired
- 1 cup unsweetened nut milk – see notes
- 1/2 cup fresh or frozen spinach
- 1/2 cup frozen peas
- 1/4 teaspoon paprika
- sea salt and pepper, to taste
- 3 cups pasta of choice
For the breadcrumb topping:
- 1 cup / 100g~ breadcrumbs
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 400ºF/205ºC. Melt the tablespoon of coconut oil and toss with the chopped butternut squash in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper and roast on a large pan until soft, around 20-30 minutes.
- When the squash is done, remove from the oven and begin to sauté the garlic with the remaining coconut oil. Reduce the heat of the oven to 350ºF/175ºC.
- Add the spinach and peas. When the greens begin to wilt, add the butternut squash. Place the vegetables in a blender with the nut milk and blend until smooth, adding nut milk until you reach your desired consistency or pour the nut milk into the pot with the veggies and blend with an immersion blender. Pour the mixture back into the pot and add the nutritional yeast.
- Bring a pot of water to a boil and generously salt. Once it reaches a rolling boil, add the pasta and cook until al dente. While the pasta is cooking, prepare the breadcrumbs by sautéing the garlic in oil on medium heat until fragrant. Coat the breadcrumbs with the garlic oil mixture and set aside.
- Drain the pasta and transfer it to an ovenproof dish. Pour the sauce over and top with breadcrumbs. Place the dish in the oven and bake for 20 minutes.
Your edible plant enthusiast,