Baked Buttercup Macaroni

This baked casserole is reminiscent of mac-and-cheese, with a rich, nutty sauce encasing hearty macaroni and a crispy topping. Serve alongside sautéed rapini or kale, and a few scoops of homemade cranberry sauce. I wrote this over 5 years ago, but it’s definitely a favourite that I make  often (or variations of). Excuse the photography — I’m sure you get the idea.

Baked Buttercup Macaroni

Baked Buttercup Macaroni

   

For the casserole
2 cups (480mL) gluten-free macaroni (I like Barilla the best, Tinkyada next)
2 tablespoons (30mL) extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 large onion, chopped
1 medium buttercup squash, roasted, seeded and peeled (about 2 cups (480mL) mashed)
1/4 cup (60mL) roasted cashew butter
3 tablespoons (45mL) nutritional yeast flakes
1 1/2 tablespoons (22mL) sweet rice flour (mochiko flour)
3/4 teaspoon (4mL) ground sage
3/4 teaspoon (4mL) garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon (2mL) ground nutmeg
Himalayan or fine sea salt to taste
Fresh ground pepper to taste
2 to 4 tablespoons (30 to 60mL) unsweetened nondairy milk (as needed)

For the topping:
3 tablespoons (45mL) finely chopped pecans
2 tablespoons (30mL) ground flaxseeds

Cook the macaroni to al dente, according to the package directions. Drain well. Use 1 tablespoon (15mL) of the oil to grease a 9-inch square glass baking dish. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Heat the remaining oil in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, until softened and golden, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the squash, cashew butter, nutritional yeast, sweet rice flour, sage, garlic powder, nutmeg, salt and pepper into a food processor. Process until smooth, adding water or milk if the mixture is very thick. It should be about the consistency of a thick sauce.

In a small bowl, stir together the pecans and flaxmeal.

Add the macaroni to the oiled dish. Scrape in the squash mixture, mixing until combined. Sprinkle with the pecan mixture. Bake for 30 minutes, until lightly browned and crisp on top. Let cool 5 minutes before serving. 

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Spring Pea and Arugula Pasta

Spring peas add a touch of sweetness to this quick pasta salad. The red pepper flakes add a bit of a kick, which complements the fresh mint.

pea pasta salad mint arugula

Spring Pea and Arugula Pasta

1/2 pound (227g/8oz) gluten-free elbow pasta (I prefer Tinkyada)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 shallots, halved and sliced
1 cup fresh or frozen spring peas
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
2 cups lightly packed arugula
1/2 cup lightly packed fresh mint, finely chopped
Fine sea or Himalayan salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Lemon to taste, optional

Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain and set aside to cool.

Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the peas and red pepper flakes. Cook until the peas are soft, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat, scrape the mixture into a bowl, and add the pasta. Mix well. Cool completely.

Once the mixture is cool, add the arugula and mint. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving. Serve with freshly squeezed lemon juice, if desired.