Though everyone’s idea of “comfort food” may be different, pretty much everyone would agree that mac and cheese would be on the list.
And probably toward the top of that list too.
But fear not – you CAN have your mac and cheese and eat it too. Guilt-free.
This version is just as cheesy, indulgent and delicious as the original – while boasting the added benefits of being vegan and gluten-free too.
Empty-calorie macaroni is replaced with quinoa – which is naturally gluten-free and chock full of important nutrients. And the milk and cheese are there too – just in dairy-free form.
But the most winning feature of this dish?
All that creaminess that you look for is there – thanks not to cream, but to cooked and pureed butternut squash.
The list of health benefits found in this winter gourd is long. Butternut squash is low in fat but high in fiber. It’s full of potassium, vitamin B6 and beta-caroten, along with vitamin C (bring it on, winter!).
This dish would make a great side to any protein, or give it the star treatment and make it the main course for your next Meatless Monday!
1 small – medium butternut squash, halved and seeded
½ cup almond milk
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
3 – 4 cups cooked quinoa (see notes, below, for how to cook)
1 – 2 cups non-dairy cheddar shreds
salt and pepper
Pre-heat oven to 375; line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper (lightly oil if using foil). Place the squash, cut sides down, on your prepared baking sheet and bake for one hour. Let sit till cool enough to handle; keep oven on.
Scoop out cooked squash and place in a blender. Add the almond milk and mustard and blend till smooth – mixture should be the consistency of applesauce or pumpkin puree.
Transfer mixture to a bowl and add the quinoa and one cup of the cheddar shreds. Mix well and season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon into individual ramekins and sprinkle with more cheddar shreds if desired.
Bake for 30 minutes, till golden brown and bubbly. Serve immediately.
Cook quinoa as follows: Place ½ cup quinoa in a fine mesh strainer and rinse thoroughly. This removes quinoa’s natural coating – called “saponin” – which can make it taste bitter or soapy (do this even if the package says “pre-rinsed”). Place in a small saucepan with 1 cup of water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and set aside till ready to use.