I have never owned a real casserole dish, in the past I have always used a very old 8X8 glass baking dish for nearly all of my baking needs. Since I started preparing recipes from the VEGANOMICON I bake things in the oven and make a lot more casseroles than any other time in my life so I really need a new dish. I saw this beauty and I had to have it and now I have been using it left and right, forcing items into is sleek oblong shape.
I have wanted to make this recipe for Pumpkin Sage Crusted pasta since I first read about it; pasta with cashew ricotta mixed with caramelized onions and pumpkin combing for the sauce and then a crusty top of bread crumbs, walnuts and sage. Somehow I managed to hold off until the dish was weather appropriate. In my case in Austin TX that means the time when we get to where pants and turn off the AC because *gasp* it is only 85 degrees outside. My partner’s parents are coming in a couple weeks and I thought I would give this one a dry run to see if it would meet the not-in-laws approval.
This dish was fantastic! It is everything that I ever wanted but never find in Vegan Mac and Cheese. The problem with Mac and Cheese is that it is trying to be mac and cheese (which I used to love to make) and it will never be the same as its dairy counterpart. The Pumpkin Pasta, on the other hand, isn’t trying to be anything but a yummy, gooey, noodley casserole with a crispy top and so it succeeds by not having to compare to its non-vegan version. I usually find that the key to good vegan food is to
- not try to be something else
- utilize the wonder that is vegetables
and here the vegetables really shined. There are few things better in this world than caramelized onions and I realized I should really cook with pumpkin more. The cans are cheap and easy to work with and don’t seem to contain a lot of strange preservatives like some processed canned things and you don’t have to peel anything with is what is usually annoying about winter squashes. I served this dish with roasted asparagus and it made 6 meals. Six actual meals, not 6 “servings” which isn’t usually very correct for us. I think I will make it again for the family or at least the next time I am feeling sorry for myself. I think it would be a great recipe to southwesternize too, using cumin instead of sage for the topping and mixing jalapenos, sauteed peppers and maybe a can of tomatoes into the sauce. Me Gusta calabaza!