"Once you make this, there’s no turning back."
“Once you make this, there’s no turning back,” says Kumai. The creamy sauce is made from a velvety-smooth, incredibly creamy base of coconut and pumpkin puree. You'll also add delicious umami flavor by incorporating a combination of miso and nutritional yeast, two probiotic-rich ingredients that help balance your gut microbiome and boost your digestion. Finally, breadcrumb topping makes it extra crave-worthy (and who doesn't love a crispy first bite?).
The recipe is flexible, from the pumpkin—start from scratch, or use canned—to the pasta. “I love using shells or penne in my mac and cheese, but feel free to use elbow macaroni or whatever pasta you’d like,” says Kumai. “You could also swap in whole wheat or gluten-free pasta.”
Keep reading to get the recipe—and don’t plan on leftovers.
Candice Kumai’s vegan mac and cheese recipe with pumpkin
Coconut oil or olive oil cooking spray, for pan
1 medium pumpkin, peeled, halved, seeded, and chopped into 1-inch cubes (or substitute organic canned pumpkin, about 22 ounces or 1 1/2 cans)
4 to 6 garlic cloves, peeled
2 sprigs fresh thyme
22 ounces coconut milk (about 1 1/2 cans)
3 Tbsp organic miso paste
4 cups pasta shells or penne, cooked and drained
1⁄4 cup plus 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
For the breadcrumb topping
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 Tbsp granulated garlic powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup finely chopped kale or parsley leaves
2 Tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly coat a 9 x 13-inch pan with coconut oil or olive oil cooking spray.
2. In a large saucepan, combine the pumpkin, garlic, thyme, coconut milk, and miso. Season with salt. Cook over medium heat, uncovered, stirring occasionally, and making sure the all the pumpkin is submerged. Simmer until the pumpkin is fork-tender, about 30 minutes. Remove and discard the thyme sprigs. Carefully place the squash mixture in a powerful blender and purée until smooth.
3. Meanwhile, cook pasta in salted water until just al dente. Drain and rinse with cool water. Spread pasta in the prepared pan and pour the pumpkin-coconut milk purée over the pasta. Gently fold in the nutritional yeast and mix well to combine, ensuring that all noodles are coated. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake, about 30 minutes, until bubbling and cooked through.
4. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine all topping ingredients.
5. Remove pasta from the oven, uncover, and sprinkle with breadcrumb topping. Broil on high, two to three minutes, until breadcrumb topping is golden brown.
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