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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Tofu “Ricotta” Stuffed Eggplant Rolls

Making ricotta-like filling is one of my favorite ways to use tofu. I often prepare it and use it in lasagna, shell noodles, peppers, portabellos and, here, eggplant. A vegan version of eggplant rollatini, this is a perfect primer for those who are new to trying tofu.

eggplant rollatini

Tofu Ricotta-Stuffed Eggplant Rolls

2 to 3 large eggplant, sliced about 1/4-inch thick lengthwise (8 slices in total)
Olive oil
1 batch tofu “ricotta” (below)
About 4 cups (960mL) your favorite marinara sauce (I use a homemade version with lots of chunky vegetables)

Preheat the oven to 425F. Put the eggplant on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil. Bake for about 8 to 12 minutes until softened. Remove from oven and set aside. Reduce oven temperature to 375F.

Put a small scoop of the tofu “ricotta” on one end of each of the 8 slices of eggplant. Roll each securely, then place in a baking dish that will fit them all snuggly (such as an 8-inch square). Top with the marinara. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until eggplant is tender and sauce is bubbling. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Tofu “Ricotta”

1 (350g) package extra-firm tofu, drained
2 tablespoons (30mL) nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon (15mL) cashew butter
1 tablespoon (15mL) lemon juice, plus more to taste
2 teaspoon (10mL) Italian seasoning
1/8 teaspoon (1mL) onion powder
1/8 teaspoon (1mL) garlic powder, plus more to taste
Sea or Himalayan salt to taste
Fresh ground pepper to taste

Put all ingredients in the food processor. Pulse until well combined. This can be made up to 2 days in advance. If using immediately, test for seasoning after pulsing. If you’re making it in advance, test for seasoning before using.

Brined Herb Tofu

Tofu, I know, isn’t everyone’s go-to, but this briny, tangy tofu makes a perfect sandwich filling. The tofu is reminiscent of feta with that salty, brininess to it, and it’s made for layering it in crusty bread (say, with roasted red peppers and red onions, grilled portabello slices, black olive tapenade, and baby spinach) for a summery sandwich full of flavor. It’s pictured here with my recipe for Yellow Mustard with Smoked Paprika.

IMG_7915

Brined Herb Tofu

1 pound (454g) extra-firm tofu, cut into 1/4-inch slabs
2 1/2 cups (560mL) water
1/2 cup (120mL) white balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup (80mL) lemon juice
1 tablespoon (15mL) dried basil
1 tablespoon (15mL) dried oregano
2 teaspoons (10mL) fine sea or Himalayan salt
1 teaspoon (5mL) yellow miso paste

Wrap the tofu in paper towels. Top with a heavy pan for 30 minutes, replacing the paper towels once, to remove all excess moisture.

Meanwhile, put the water, vinegar, lemon juice, basil, oregano, and salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce and let simmer 25 minutes. Stir in the miso paste.

Put the pressed tofu in a container. Pour the brine over the tofu, submerging completely. Let cool. Cover and refrigerate at least 24 hours. The tofu will become more flavorful as it sits in the brine. Use within 5 days.

homemade mustard and brined tofu1