I first made this months ago with the very first of the butternut squashes of the season. I had decided ahead of time that it would be a “non-photo” night since casseroles are not the easiest subject matter. Of course, after we made it, I was regretting not having the camera out because it tasted way too good not to share.
For the second go-around, I made it with sweet potatoes only because that had a better ring than “butternut squash surprise.”
If you’re vegan, this will taste like a baked mac and cheese. If you’re not vegan, it will just taste awesome and you won’t really believe it’s vegan (surprise). Or if you use gluten free bread crumbs on top instead of panko, it’s gluten free (double surprise).
serves 2 big eaters, or 3 regular eaters, with extra sauce. My pan is pictured is 7×9. Increase pasta and bake in a larger pan to serve more.
1-2 T olive oil
1 large shallot, chopped (or 1/4 of an onion)
1 heaping cup sweet potatoes, chopped (or butternut squash)
8 oz veggie broth
3/4 cup coconut milk, light
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/4 cup nutritional yeast (not to be replaced with regular yeast)
4-5 sage leaves, chopped
1 teaspoon maple syrup
Salt and pepper
2 cups uncooked pasta (I used Jovial brown rice fusilli)
2 cups chopped fresh spinach
1/4 cup scallions
1/4 cup to 1/2 cup panko (or gluten free bread crumbs)
Pinch of red pepper flakes
In a medium saucepan, heat oil. Add shallots, salt & pepper. Cook until translucent. Add sweet potatoes, garlic, broth and coconut milk. Cover and simmer until potatoes are cooked and soft (about 15-25 minutes), stirring occasionally.
Start your pasta, cook until al dente, and reserve some pasta water for later.
To your sweet potato mix, stir in dijon mustard, nutritional yeast, sage, maple syrup. Add more salt & pepper.
Blend in a high speed blender (a vitamix is recommended).Taste and adjust. Add some of the starchy pasta water to thin it out if it’s too thick.
In a large bowl, place the spinach and scoop the hot pasta noodles on top (so the hot pasta starts to wilt the spinach). Mix in the sweet potato sauce, thinning with more pasta water if necessary.
Place in a baking dish. Top with scallions, a sprinkling of panko, pinches of salt, pinches of red pepper flake, and a drizzle of olive oil on top.
Bake in a 350 degree oven for approx. 20 minutes (uncovered) until the top is brown and crusty. I turned on my broiler for the last couple of minutes to help with the browning.