Creamy Butternut Squash Pasta (Vegan & GF)

I’ve been craving mac and cheese for about 2 years now. Sad, I know. But I’ve decided that the effects cheese and milk have on my system aren’t worth the temporary satisfaction of a hot, steamy, comforting, cheesy, melty, delicious bowl of mac and cheese. That’s what I keep telling myself, anyways. However, I recently discovered the plethora of GF pasta options available in grocery stores like Whole Foods and ALDI, and  knew that I could find a way to fill the mac and cheese void in my life. Butternut squash is (obviously) the answer. I know there are still some of you out there who don’t want to be members of my butternut squash fan club *ahem, Matt* but let me tell you, this recipe is a game changer.

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Let’s talk about some of the seemingly unnecessary/obscure ingredients I use in my recipes, because I promise that once you stock up on them, you’ll use them all the time…

  1. Nutritional yeast- This is a staple for your dairy-free pantry that mimics the flavor of Parmesan cheese in any dish, and is full of protein, vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals.
  2. Smoked paprika- I never knew or cared about the difference between regular paprika and smoked paprika until our trip to Southern Spain last year. Smoked paprika is used in lots of traditional vegetable dishes like chickpea stew, and as soon as I got home I bought a jar. A little goes a long way to create a smoky heat that brings out the flavor of just about any vegetable. Buy some!
  3. Roasted garlic- I know this seems like an extra step, but the flavor of roasted garlic is mild with this wonderfully creamy texture that makes a big difference in your finished product. I roast a couple heads at a time and keep them refrigerated in a jar so I can squeeze a couple cloves into whatever I’m cooking. I have instructions below.

Creamy Butternut Squash Pasta

Makes about 4 servings

1/4 C raw cashews

Olive oil

Salt & pepper

1 package cubed butternut squash (about 3C)

3 cloves garlic

Juice from 1/2 a lemon

2 T nutritional yeast (optional)

1 t onion powder

1/2 t smoked paprika

1/4 t chili powder

1/4 – 1/3 C vegetable broth or water

1 package GF pasta

Optional roasted vegetables for serving (Brussels sprouts or kale)

Sriracha (optional)

Method:

Soak cashews in 1 C of boiling water for at least 30 minutes, until they soften and absorb a good amount of the water.

Preheat oven to 375°. Toss cubed butternut squash with olive oil, salt & pepper and roast in oven for about 30 minutes until tender. Remove from oven and set aside. (If you are making roasted vegetables to go with your pasta, make those now, too.)

Roasted garlic- Slice the very top off of a whole head of garlic, drizzle with olive oil and wrap in aluminum foil. Roast in oven for about 20 minutes until fragrant.

Prepare GF pasta according to package instructions. Do NOT over cook!

In a blender, combine roasted butternut squash, drained cashews, about 3 cloves of roasted garlic, lemon juice, nutritional yeast and seasonings and pulse until combined. Add broth or water a little at a time and continue to pulse until you reach desired consistency (I left mine pretty thick).

Combine cooked pasta with sauce and top with roasted vegetables of choice and sriracha, hot sauce of choice, or crushed red pepper. Enjoy!

 

 

Chicken Pot Pie (DF, GF)

There are few things as comforting and satisfying as something home-made, fresh out of the oven on a cold and rainy fall day. I have been craving chicken pot pie and finally mustered the courage to try a grain-free, dairy-free version. If you know me, you know I LOVE making pie, but this one presented a challenge with its absence of gluten to keep the crust pretty and in-tact.

If you don’t need to make this recipe dairy-free/gluten-free/paleo, go ahead and buy a store-bought crust to save time. You can make this a double crust or single crust pie!

If you’re feeling up to the challenge, I swear it’s worth it! The dough was easy to pull together, but not as easy to roll out, so I’ve included some helpful tips below.

I made chicken breasts in the crock pot yesterday, and had them shredded and ready to go in the fridge, which saved me a lot of time during prep and clean-up. The filling is filled with colorful veggies, herbs, and the coconut milk/chicken broth combo is so hearty. It turned out amazing. (I had to stop myself from snacking on it while I rolled out the crust). I swear you won’t notice the absence of dairy in this dish.

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Chicken Pot Pie (dairy-fee & gluten-free)

makes one 8″ round pie

For the crust:

**single crust recipe

1 C almond flour

1/4 C tapioca flour

1/4 C coconut flour

1/2 t salt

9 T cold Earth Balance vegan butter, or 9 T cold ghee

1/2 t dried oregano

1/2 t dried thyme

1 t onion powder

1 t garlic powder

2-3 T ice cold water

Method:

Combine all ingredients besides water in food processor, pulsing until dough begins to lump together. Slowly add water, 1 T at a time, stopping when all dough comes together. You don’t want to add too much, or it’ll be tricky to manage when rolling out. Scrape dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap, and flatten into a disk. Cover completely with wrap and set in fridge for about 1 hour.

For the filling:Pie4

2 C cooked chicken (rotisserie chicken works great)

2 herb cubes (from my last post!)

3 medium carrots chopped

3 stalks celery chopped

1 medium yellow onion chopped

1/4 C green peans or green beans (I used frozen)

2 garlic cloves minced

1/4 C arrowroot powder or corn starch

1 C light coconut milk

3/4 chicken broth

Salt & pepper

1/4 C chopped fresh parsley

Method:

Heat 2 herb cubes (or 2 T oil) in dutch oven over medium heat. Add chopped carrots, celery, and onions. Saute for 2 mins or until onions turn translucent. Add in frozen (or fresh) peas/green beans and garlic, and saute for another 2 minutes until fragrant.

Add arrowroot powder or cornstarch and mix to coat vegetables. Slowly add coconut milk and chicken broth, making sure to scrape bottom of pan. Season with salt and pepper, and bring to a low boil. Continue to heat and mix until simmering and you see the mixture thicken. Spoon filling into bottom of pie dish and set aside to cool slightly. Sprinkle filling with fresh parsley.

Heat oven to 350°

If you cheated and bought pie crust at the store (jk I’m not judging), make sure it’s nice and defrosted so it’s easy to work with. If you made it per my recipe above, take it out of the fridge and roll out between two sheets of wax paper or plastic wrap. DO NOT attempt to roll it out on your counter- GF dough is very sticky.

Transfer dough on top of pie and pinch around the edges to seal to the pie pan. Brush it with a little egg wash if you’re feeling fancy, and prick a few holes in the top for ventilation. Place in middle of preheated oven with a cookie sheet underneath to catch any filling that bubbles over. Bake for about 30-40 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

Serve warm with more fresh herbs on top. Enjoy!

The Denver Central Market

I’ve been a little behind on posting because I’m in Denver for work. However, I’ve loved getting to know the different areas surrounding the downtown and it’s been lots of fun trying all the amazing restaurants and bars Denver has to offer. My good friend Annie lives in Denver and spent Friday night showing me around her neighborhood, the River North (RiNo) area. We ordered fun cocktails at Death & Co, ate dinner at Finn’s Manor, which is an indoor/outdoor bar with multiple food trucks to choose from, and stopped in and out of some bars on our way down Larimer St where Oktoberfest was taking place. As you can see below, we do not like each other and we did not have any fun.

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Tonight, I brought my coworkers back through the River North district and we decided to stop for dinner in Denver Central Market. This airy marketplace is full of different stations, including a full-service butcher, a bar, a candy store, bakery, and multiple meal options. It was exactly what we were looking for and lent itself to our different tastes and dietary restrictions.

The dinner we enjoyed here was so fresh, colorful, and wholesome. My friend Grace ordered a Caesar salad with vegan cashew dressing and (non-vegan) Parmesan 🙂 I ordered dinner at the grill station- half a free-range chicken, roasted vegetables, and a beet salad which was perfectly balanced with fennel and red onion. The weather in Denver was beautiful yesterday, and it felt so nice to sit outside with a glass of rosé  and eat a plate (mostly) full of vegetables.

Salad
Caesar Salad with vegan cashew dressing
dinner
Half chicken with roasted vegetables, beet and fennel salad and arugula

flowers

The market also had a florist section with bunches of vibrant fresh flowers. I know that if I lived near, I’d stop here multiple times a week on my way home from work 🙂 The block the market is located on is full of impressive mural art and many cute shops and bars. If you’re ever in Denver looking for a great place to explore, I highly recommend spending some time this neighborhood.