Penne with Roasted Delicata Squash and Vegan Mornay Sauce

Vegan Mornay Sauce

Until a few years ago I hadn’t ever cooked winter squash. Hell, I probably hadn’t even ever eaten winter squash outside of the canned pumpkin in a pie. They always seemed so daunting. The peeling, the cleaning of the seeds, the stained hands. And then there was the cutting. In my mind it was akin to opening a coconut, and one slip of the (very dull) knife in my (very clumsy) hand and I’d be down a finger. But maybe the acquisition of a couple of proper grown-up knives gave me courage.

I started with acorn squash. They’re so cute and curvy and ready for stuffing. So they became a Thanksgiving centerpiece. But the flesh came out stringy and dry and mushy, making for nothing more than a really pretty and seasonally appropriate bowl.

And then I found this. The simplest, most delicious butternut squash soup you could hope for, perfect for topping with cranberry compote for a really stunning color combination. And I haven’t looked back since.

Last year I fell in love with the delicata squash. It’s sometimes hard to find, and its smaller size and less flashy appearance make it easy to overlook. But here’s the thing: You can eat the skin. Meaning none of that annoying peeling. Just chop it up, toss it in olive oil, salt, and pepper, and throw it in the oven for a wonderfully comforting side dish that’s nicely crunchy on the outside, with a bite provided by the slightly waxy skin, and incredibly smooth on the inside. Or do as I did here and, after roasting, toss it with penne and a vegan mornay sauce for an indulgent, grown-up version of mac and cheese. And don’t forget to roast the seeds (delicata is a way better payoff here than stingy butternut) and sprinkle them on top.

The best part? Matilda, who had recently decried a loaf of pumpkin bread for being ” too pumpkiny,” said, without prodding, “I like this squash.” Success.

Vegan Mornay Sauce

adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child et al.

I used Teese vegan cheese in this sauce, as I prefer its flavor over other brands. And when I opened the pantry to grab the flour and realized the all-purpose canister was empty, I used whole-wheat pastry flour instead, which worked just fine. This is best served very hot, as it loses it’s silky texture as it cools.

1 Tbsp Earth Balance Margarine

1 1/2 Tbsp flour

1 cup unsweetened soy milk

Approximately 1/4 cup mozzarella-style vegan cheese, grated

salt and pepper to taste

Heat soy milk in small saucepan or in the microwave until warmed through. Melt margarine in small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour and let the mixture bubble, stirring constantly, for about two minutes. Slowly pour in heated soy milk. Whisk until the sauce thickens and can coat the back of a spoon. This should only take a couple of minutes.

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