Pumpkin Bisque and Mac n’ cheese

Thanksgiving has come and gone, and so has my cutie pie. He’s off to Kentucky for two months while I finish a 40 page paper and the rest of a busy semester. While he was here we made a vegan feast for my mom, stepdad, and stepbrother: all omnivores. The menu was as follows: pumpkin bisque, followed by festive vegan tart, mushroom gravy, cranberry sauce, roasted potatoes, roasted brussel sprouts, sourdough stuffing, and scalloped corn, followed by cranberry apple crisp for dessert. It was a success, I think.

Turns out that bisque means twice cooked. Who knew? The pumpkin bisque requires roasting the pumpkin, followed by melanging it in a soup. I think I managed to make a trisque (haha) because later in the week I used the soup to make pumpkin macaroni and cheese. It was so good.

The recipe for the bisque comes from my favourite plant-powered cookbook, Crazy Sexy Kitchen. I am slowly cooking my way through it. By the way, great gift for any foodie, unless they really hate veganism or healthy food. Also, keep in mind that when I post recipes from cookbooks, I often use slightly different ingredients, so you should still check out the original if you are interested.

I doubled this recipe, which was totally worth it, and fed 5 on thanksgiving, 5 lunches, and still had enough for mac n’ cheese.

Ingredients for the bisque
1 tbsp oil
2 cups fresh pumpkin, or half a medium cooking pumpkin (will explain)
1 medium white onion, diced
3 or 4 shallots, diced
5 cloves of garlic, oven roasted (will explain)
3 cups veggie stock
1 1/2 tbsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/4 cup sherry wine
1/2 tsp salt
Pepper to taste

To roast the pumpkin I cut it in half and took out the guts. The seeds were reserved for toasting later. I greased a cookie sheet and placed the pumpkin face down on it, then roasted it at 400*F for about 45 minutes to an hour. By inserting a fork it’s easy to tell when to take it out – if the fork goes in easily, it’s done.

Once the pumpkin was cooled, I cut it into smaller slices and used a fish de=boning knife to scrape the skin away from the pumpkin meat.

Another crucial step is to roast the garlic. At 400*F I placed five cloves of garlic in a tinfoil wrapped ball, having drizzled a bit of olive oil inside. I roasted the garlic for about 20 minutes. When it was done, it looked slightly brown when I opened up the foil.

Now the soup begins. I cooked the onion and shallots in oil until translucent, then added the rest of the ingredients. Using a hand blender, I pureed the soup until it was smooth. A blender would also do; a Vitamix would be superb. All that was left was to heat up the soup and serve with pumpkin seeds on top. Note that I did not used the pumpkin seeds that I roasted from the pumpkin, but rather used a different brand of store-bought pumpkin seeds. I found that the ones I made got too chewy in the soup (taste test!).

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Now for the mac n’ cheese….

Ingredients for pumpkin macaroni and cheese
2 cups pumpkin bisque
3 cups dry macaroni noodles
1 tbsp vegan margarine
1 tbsp flour
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 cup nutritional yeast

1 tbsp vegan margerine
1/2 cup breadcrumbs

I cooked the pasta until al dente and drained it, letting cool water pass over it to stop the cooking. In a sauce pan I melted 1 tbsp vegan margerine and made a roux with the flour (this involved whisking the flour with the butter and cooking it slightly, until a thick paste forms and bubbles). I added the pumpkin bisque and the rest of the ingredients, and whisked it until it came to a boil, letting it boil for a few minutes. The soup thickened up.

I put the cooked macaroni noodles into the sauce pan and mixed it until all the noodles were covered. I then transferred the noodles into a greased casserole dish.

In a small bowl I melted the other tablespoon of vegan margarine and then mixed in the breadcrumbs. I topped the casserole dish with the breadcrumb mixture, evenly spreading it over the macaroni. I baked the casserole for 20 minutes at 350*F with the lid on for most of it, but took the lid off and broiled it for a few minutes at the end.

I love pumpkin so much , so these dishes were a treat.

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Vegan Macaroni and Cheese

Macaroni and cheese has been my favorite food pretty much since I was able to eat solid food. As such, I was pretty excited to try making a vegan version of my favorite dish. One of the people I am living with right now has been vegan for two years, and has a cookbook called Let Them Eat Vegan by Dreena Burton. I decided to make the recipe called “Mac-oh-geez”.

Ingredients

3 1/2 cups elbow macaroni (don’t use much more than that)
Sauce:

1 1/2 cups unsweetened nondairy milk (I used soy milk)
3/4 cups cashews
1/2 cups almonds
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 garlic clove
2 tsp arrowroot powder (my vegan housemate had this in her pantry and let me use it, but I think cornstarch would work too)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp mustard powder
1 cup water
2 tbsp oil (I used grape seed oil)

Bread Crumb Topping:
1 cup bread crumbs
1 tbsp oil

I preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and lightly greased an 8 by 12 inch baking dish.

I cooked the pasta in slightly salted boiling water for 6-8 minutes, until al dente. It is important to remember that the pasta will keep cooking in the oven.

I put all the sauce ingredients in a blender, but reserved 1 cup of the soy milk. I blended the mixture until smooth, then added  the rest of the soy milk and blended it some more.

I put the cooked noodles into the prepared baking dish, and poured the sauce on top. It looked very saucy, but it really thickened up in the oven.

I mixed the bread crumbs and oil together and poured on top of the casserole, then covered it in tinfoil and baked it for 17 minutes. Then, I removed the tinfoil and baked it for another 7 minutes, until the top started to turn golden brown.

Overall, the mac and cheese looked exactly like the casserole I make with cheese, butter, and milk, and it tasted similar, but of course, not bang on. There was a slight sweetness to it that I am trying to understand; maybe the soy milk is responsible for this, even though it was unsweetened. But, with a little bit of pepper on top, and this dish can definitely satisfy the mac and cheese craving.

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Funny side note: with my peanut allergy, it can be very difficult to find nuts that were not processed on the same equipment as peanuts. Usually pistachios are easy to find in the grocery store, but not much else. Thankfully, Costco sells a brand called Kirkland that has many different options that are not processed with peanuts. I was able to buy a bag of almonds, but the bag of cashews had the “may contain” label on it. However, I found a bag of mixed nuts and fruit that were safe and had cashews in it! So, for this mac and cheese recipe, I picked out the cashews one by one. Yes, these are the lengths I will go to to try out a new recipe.