I’ve been resisting mentioning the ‘A’ word in any recent recipes but, with the clocks having gone back here in the UK today and dark evenings on our doorstep, it’s safe to say that autumn is in full swing. At this time of year, our bodies need a helping hand as we start to crave hearty, warming meals.
Cranks, who have been making vegetarian food since 1961 (that’s over fifty years!), are one of the pioneers of vegetarian wholefood and they tasked me with creating a wholesome slow food dish especially for this time of year.
Slow food means several things: food that nourishes us from within, food that has been created according to the seasons and location, and food that has been cooked to bring out the flavours of its components.
With all of this in mind, I quickly settled on this vegan macaroni cheese. Macaroni cheese with a little nutmeg on top was always a proper comfort food for me when I was younger and this healthier make-over makes use of one of this season’s most iconic vegetables – the pumpkin.
Here are a few reasons why this dish is so great for autumn and winter:
- Pumpkins are a great source of energy-giving potassium and immune system supporting vitamin C
- Nutritional yeast is usually fortified with vitamin B12, which is considered to boost mood, energy and concentration
- Nutmeg is full of minerals and can act as an anti-depressant
The pumpkin in this recipe is slowly cooked in vegetable stock and could also easily be made in a slow cooker too, if you’d prefer. For an extra special treat, you could add cheese (vegan or non-vegan) to the sauce or grilled on top. You could also make the dish using wholemeal pasta but I chose to stick with a classic macaroni.
- 750g fresh pumpkin, peeled and cut into 2cm cubes
- 2 onions, chopped
- 500ml hot vegetable stock
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
- 1tsp Dijon mustard
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg, plus extra to serve
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 320g macaroni pasta
- 1tsp cornflour (mixed with 2tsp cold water to form a paste)
- 3tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)
- Add the pumpkin, onions, vegetable stock, garlic, mustard, nutmeg and black pepper to a large pan.
- Place the pan over a medium heat, cover and cook gently for around thirty minutes, stirring occasionally, until the pumpkin is tender.
- Set the pan aside to cool a little and bring a fresh pan of water to the boil. Once boiling, add the macaroni to the water and cook according to the pasta's instructions.
- Meanwhile, add the pumpkin mix to a blender and blend until smooth.
- Once cooked, drain the pasta and return to the pan. Add the pumpkin sauce and mix well to coat the macaroni fully.
- Return the pan to a medium heat, add the cornflour paste and stir to thicken.
- Remove from the heat, stir in the nutritional yeast, season with extra black pepper if desired and serve with a sprinkle of nutmeg on top.
I’m linking up with Recipe of the Week, Meat-free Mondays, Free-from Fridays, Healthy Vegan Fridays and at the Plant-based Potluck Party.
What foods do you find yourself craving at this time of year? If you’re looking for more slow food ideas, take a look at these ideas over on the Cranks website.
This post is in collaboration with Cranks – thanks to Cranks and the brands who help to support this blog! See this blog’s disclaimer for more information.