Is it dorky that I was excited to post this recipe purely because I couldn’t wait to put “cheeze” in the title?
After making Veggie-stuffed Squash Boats a few weeks ago, I knew the stringy insides of a spaghetti squash would be the perfect way to paleo-ize my favorite “desert island food” of macaroni and cheese. I love macaroni and cheese. It was my go-to homesick meal throughout college, so much so that when I scored my first big girl job and apartment, my mother bequeathed to me the pot she always made our mac and cheese in as a housewarming gift. I still have it, and as I’ve gotten more inventive in the kitchen, I have also gotten more clever with variations and ways to convince Neil it’s something “all-new” and “totally different.” I think he’s just pretending to buy it.
Because this is macaroni and “cheeze,” meaning absolutely dairy-free, it’s also vegan. As I was telling a fellow blogger via Twitter yesterday, I feel like being Paleo day-to-day for me has been mostly a dive into veganism. Since our diet is largely plant-based and paleo advocates forgoing dairy, bread and excess sugar, we usually find that vegan recipes are not only are devoid of those, but healthfully-minded as well.
1 medium spaghetti squash, peeled and chopped (yields: 5-6 cups raw)
2 tablespoons olive oil (or oil preference)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
3/4 cup raw almonds
1 cup coconut milk, plus more to thin out if necessary
3 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons kosher salt + additional if desired
6-7 tablespoons Nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
2-4 tablespoons sriracha sauce to taste or 2 to 4 tablespoons pureed canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (pureed using a food processor or blender), or to taste
1/4-1/2 tsp Paprika + more to season
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4-1/2 tsp Tumeric powder, optional (gives the orangey colour)
15 oz/450 grams/5 cups of pasta of your choice (we used brown rice pasta)
Spray oil, to coat baking dish if desired
- Preheat oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment or foil.
- Peel and chop spaghetti squash. In a bowl mix chopped squash with olive oil and 2 teaspoons kosher salt and mix until all the squash is thoroughly coated. Transfer to baking sheet and roast in oven for 40 minutes, flipping squash at about the 20 minute or halfway mark.
- Place almonds in food processor. Process until a fine crumb forms similar to corn meal. Add remaining cheeze sauce ingredients (almonds, coconut milk, garlic, lemon, salt, nutritional yeast, pepper (and a few pinches of additional salt), chipotle peppers in adobo sauce/sriracha sauce and seasonings and process again until smooth. Leave the sauce in the food processor while you wait for the squash.
- Cook pasta according to the package directions. When squash is finished, add to the food processor and blend with cheeze sauce until smooth. Taste, and add additional seasonings or chipotle peppers in adobo sauce as desired. Thin the sauce with additional milk as necessary for desired consistency.
- Drain and rinse pasta with cold water. Return pasta to pot and add cheeze sauce on top (there may be a little extra, so to it to a saturation level you desire). Heat in pot, or pour into a casserole dish (I used a standard 13 x 9 x 2-inch glass baking dish. Top with additional paprika and freshly ground pepper, and bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes.
Makes 4-6 servings
We added broccoli to the mix, but really, anything goes! It took all of me not to run to the store for an over-priced loaf of gluten-free bread. I LOVE breadcrumbs on top of my mac and cheese!
In the interest of full disclosure, this in no way tastes like traditional macaroni and cheese. If you love the good stuff, this probably won’t cure your craving. It’s a different bird. The texture is not as smooth, and it’s not as salty or stringy. It’s simply not melted cheese. But it is warm, creamy and slightly sweet. I’d love to try another variation that utilizes the “spaghetti” as the noodles with the sauce added to it. Too many ideas, so little stomach room!
By the way, while I was tinkering around on the web, I found this. I kid you not, an entire recipe book centered around macaroni and cheese. There’s one for grilled cheese as well. Is it cheat day yet?