I created this recipe especially for a cooking demo I for the fall 2016 Herbivore Festival at Crafton Hills College in Yucaipa, CA. To celebrate the most popular flavor of fall, pumpkin, I created this familiar and flavorful pumpkin mac & cheese with green chard and toasted pine nuts. With the holidays just around the corner, this dish would make a great side item at any dinner party or served with a nice side salad, it could be a stand out entrée – Happy Fall!
History of mac & cheese
There are a couple of stories as to the origins of mac & cheese in America. The one that seems the most referenced and best documented started when president Thomas Jefferson encountered macaroni in northern Italy. He brought a machine back to the United States. His daughter is credited with creating the dish that was first made with macaroni and parmesan. Later is was made with cheddar cheese.
- 1 lb penne or spiral pasta
- 1 Tbsp dairy-free butter (I like Earth Balance or Smart Balance)
- 1 Cup unsweetened almond milk (any nut milk will work)
- 1 Tbsp cornstarch
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 6 Tbsp nutritional yeast
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1/2 Tsp salt
- 1/2 Tsp pepper
- 1/4 Tsp of cayenne pepper (optional)
- 1 Cup canned pumpkin puree
- 2-3 leaves swiss chard, chopped
- 1/2 Cup pine nuts – toasted
- Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
- In a small pan toast the pine nuts on medium heat until slightly browned. Pour them onto a plate and let cool.
- Melt the dairy free butter in a saucepan over medium heat.
- In a separate bowl whisk together milk, cornstarch, and garlic powder then add this to the saucepan
- Add the nutritional yeast Dijon, salt, pepper and cayenne the saucepan and continue to whisk.
- Add the pumpkin puree and whisk until heated.
- Place the pasta in a large bowl and pour the heated sauce over it.
- Add the chopped green chard and stir until combined.
- Let it sit for a few minutes to let the chard wilt and soften.
- Top with toasted pine nuts and serve
Makes 4 to 6 servings