We ate this recipe for the first time on a chilly Spring day when a salad just wouldn’t cut it. This is a recipe by Anna Jones who describes it as a vegan version of Macaroni Cheese, which she calls ‘Mac and Greens’; but I don’t think that does it justice. It is a pasta bake with multi-layered flavours – tomato, basil, broccoli, plus the silky texture of butternut squash – that just happens not to be made with cheese sauce.
Serves 6 not so hungry people, or 4 hungry ones
1 large bunch of fresh basil
50g rolled oats
a head of broccoli
300g cherry tomatoes
150g toasted blanched almonds
freshly ground black pepper
300g pasta of your choice [we used gluten-free which worked well]
one 400g piece of squash, deseeded and cut into thin slices [we used a butternut]
Preheat the oven to 200°C / fan 180°C / gas 6. Put a large saucepan of salted water on to boil.
Put half the basil, oats, broccoli, a good glug of olive oil and the seasoning into a food processor. Pulse until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. It will be a bit damp, but that’s okay. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside. Rinse the food processor and add the tomatoes, almonds, remaining basil and 2 tbsp olive oil. Whizz to a nearly smooth paste, season and whizz again. Set aside. When the water is boiling, add your chosen pasta and sliced squash. Cook together for half the time this type of pasta usually takes, it should be fairly undercooked. Drain and reserve a mug of the pasta water.
Return the pasta to the saucepan, add the tomato mixture and stir. Add a little of the reserved pasta water at a time, stirring, until the sauce becomes the consistency of double cream. It needs to be a bit runny as the pasta will soak up the sauce during baking.
Transfer this mixture to a large baking dish or casserole. Sprinkle the green crumbs across the top. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the top is crunchy and golden.
Remove from the oven and wait 10 minutes before serving.
What would I do differently next time:-
add a tablespoon of tomato puree to the tomato mixture
add one crushed garlic clove to the basil mixture
5 to remember
la textura sedosa – the silky texture
cuando el agua está hirviendo – when the water is boiling
la consistencia de – the consistency of
tiene que ser un poco chorreante – it needs to be a bit runny
machado – crushed
This recipe is from ‘A Modern Way to Eat’ by Anna Jones [UK: Fourth Estate]