Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Squash Mac & Smoky Italian Collards

There's an awful lot of cooking and storing involved in keeping up with seasonal produce at peak harvest time.  You have to prepare the bounty (wash, dry, peel, chop), then cook it, then eat some of it and preserve the rest (freeze, can, dry, etc.).   It is an incredible amount of work, the volume of produce is at its peak threatening to overwhelm even the most casual bystander.  But, don't throw up the sponge!

After preparing and roasting my squash and washing and chopping my collards, I finally got to make a meal.     

It was as fine as cream gravy.

Squash Mac
Advance Prep Needed: Roasted Squash

*1.5 cups raw nuts 
*Cashews, walnuts, pecans, etc. or a combination.  I used 1 cup cashews + 1/2 cup pecans.
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 clove garlic
1/2 to 1 tablespoon sweet, white miso
1 tsp Kosher salt
1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1/8 tsp nutmeg
freshly ground pepper, several grinds 
(I never measure pepper because I always use fresh and just grind it into recipes as needed)
3 cups seasonal squash, roasted:  2 cups for the sauce, 1 cup for assembly
(My small butternut and medium acorn squash yielded 3.5 cups roasted)

2 cups hot pasta water
(I prefer to make my pasta sauces with blended nuts and pasta water rather than almond or soy milk thickened with arrowroot.)
1 pound of pasta, cooked 
(any kind, but a wagon needs wheels, don't it?) 
1/2 Cup Perfect Pepitas or French Fried Onion Pieces (I used Wegmans brand)
About 1 tablespoon vegan butter 

Bring a large pot of water to a boil (I use my 8 quart stock pot) for the pasta.  It takes about 20 minutes to heat a large pot to boiling, at least it does in my house, so you can start your sauce recipe below.  

Prepare the sauce:  

For a high speed blender (such as a VitaMix):  Add all ingredients except pasta water and reserved one cup of cubed squash in the order listed (cashews first, and so on, so nuts are down closest to the blade) to your high speed blender.  Now, you gotta wait for your pasta water. Once water is boiling, salt it, and add pasta.  Wait until your pasta is about halfway through it's cooking time (so some of the gluten is available in the water) and scoop at least two cups of the water out with a Pyrex measuring cup (or a coffee cup!) and set aside.  At this point, you'll have about six minutes left to make the sauce before your pasta is done cooking, and, guess what? That's enough time!  

Add 2 cups of that hot pasta water to the ingredients in the blender, cover (and put a dishtowel over the top in case of spurts) then blend on high for about 60 to 90 seconds, using the tamper as needed to get out air pockets.  Once sauce is thoroughly blended, turn off blender.  Your pasta timer is probably going off, now.  When it's done, drain your pasta and return to the cooking pot.  Add sauce and stir to coat until it is the consistency you prefer (some people like more sauce, some less).  

For a food processor:  Add nuts through pepper, and pulse to blend, scraping down periodically, until well combined.  Add squash and pulse/scrape until combined.  Add some pasta water a tablespoon at a time and pulse and scrape until the paste loosens a bit.  Then, with the motor running, drizzle in the rest of the water through the opening at the top of the processor and process until smooth.  This is kinda like making a pesto, folks.  

Arrange in a greased baking dish with the reserved 1 cup of squash cubes:

Cover with about 1/2 cup of French Fried Onions or other crunchy topping of choice, like Perfect Pepitas  and dot with little pieces of vegan butter.  Bake at 350 for about 10-15 minutes, just until the top is crispy and the butter is melted.  

The sauce yields about 4-5 cups of sauce, total.  I had leftover sauce, so I put it in an ice cube tray to freeze for use later this winter.

Serve with Smoky Southern (Italian) Collards or any green of your choosing.  Enjoy!

Now your wagon's ready to roll!

Tomorrow I pick up our next CSA box...

Homesteadin' it, October 1st through October 31st, 2012


  1. You are the second person I have seen putting the french fried onions on the mac bake. I need to try that some time.

    1. Hi PWC! Those fried onions are really tasty and convenient. A friend recommended them for a crunchy element in burritos and wraps, and I thought since I had eaten all of my pepitas (they were the crunchy thing that was SUPPOSED to go on top of this Mac!) that I would just put those on top, they were delish!


  2. Oh YUM. I love any kind of food with the word smoky in the title! :)

  3. Oh maaaaan I have been craving collards like crazy lately; this is a great combination. I love that you use pasta wheels! Everythings more fun to eat in wheel shape!

    1. Thank ya' kindly! I love the wagon wheels, too!

  4. That looks awesome & I love that shape of pasta!

    1. Jojo, your comment puts wheels on my wagon!


  5. Great idea! And wagon wheel pasta is so much fun :)

    1. Howdee, Dynise! Thank ya' kindly for the compliment and for pullin' your horse up to this ol' post.


  6. Wagon wheels are so great! Someone needs to make a xgfx version stat!

    1. Could just use brown rice pasta, no? I don't know if it comes in wheels, though...

  7. I am afraid to have those can of fried onions in the house. I could eat about 5 cans of those babies even without the collards.

    1. Nothin' to fear about a little ol' can o' onions!