Friday, November 28, 2008
Long ago, I veganized this Butternut Squash and Parsnip Baked Pasta recipe from the November 2002 issue of Cooking Light. I hadn't made it in years because it's very time-consuming, but I missed this comfort food and decided to tackle it this past Saturday. Its warming fall flavors are perfect for this time of year and it's a dish I look forward to eating for lunch when I bring leftovers.
Here's my vegan version of the dish I've renamed Fall Harvest:
1 T olive oil
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups (1/2-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash (about 1/2 a small squash)
2 cups (1/2-inch) cubed peeled parsnip
1 T chopped fresh or 1 tsp dried rubbed sage
1 T chopped fresh or 1 tsp dried parsley (optional)
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/4-1/2 tsp salt, divided if using 1/2 tsp
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, divided
8 oz. uncooked penne pasta (you might need 1/8-1 tsp cornstarch depending on type of pasta used*)
1/2 cup grated vegan mozzarella cheese, divided
Vegan parmesan to taste (optional)
1 1/2 T vegan butter (I use Earth Balance)
2 T all-purpose flour
1 cup vegan milk (I use fat-free soy)
Preheat oven to 375°.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add red pepper and garlic and sauté until garlic turns lightly golden. Add squash and parsnip and sauté for 10 minutes. Stir in sage, parsley, nutmeg, allspice, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper and remove from heat.
Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain in a colander over a bowl, reserving 1 cup cooking liquid. Return pasta to empty pot, then add squash mixture and 1/4 cup cheese, and combine. Pour the mixture into an 11 x 7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.
Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and cook for 3 minutes, stirring constantly with a whisk. Add milk and cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly with a whisk. Gradually add reserved cooking liquid and cook for 2 minutes or until thick, stirring constantly with a whisk (*you might need to add cornstarch, 1/8 tsp at a time to thicken the roux if your pasta water isn't starchy enough). Add 1/4 tsp salt (omit if your butter has salt in it) and 1/4 tsp pepper.
Pour milk mixture (roux) over pasta mixture and sprinkle the casserole with 1/4 cup cheese. If desired, sprinkle vegan parmesan on the casserole to taste. Bake at 375° for 30 minutes or until lightly browned.
This time around, I used quinoa rotelle pasta, which apparently doesn't release much (if any) starch into its cooking water. When I realized that the roux wasn't thickening properly, I started adding cornstarch, a little at a time, until it thickened. I didn't measure, but I don't think I added more than 1/2 tsp.
Since I had Teese in the fridge, I thought I'd see how it worked in this dish. The flavor works very well with the veggies and spices, but, as you can see, it didn't melt! Well, it melted on leftovers that were heated in the microwave, but not when I baked it in the oven. Follow Your Heart mozzarella is just as good and effective in this casserole.
I'd say this is the most involved recipe I make because it requires 3 different pots and pans and the roux demands undivided attention. The results are worth the effort, but it's not something I could ever make after work on a weeknight. Save it for a weekend when you're craving comfort food.