So, those January blues… feeling them yet?
I had a really bad case of the January blues last year. When the sun came round early in March and we had that glorious month of sunshine and heat, I’d never felt better. To avoid that dip in my mood again I’m planning on filling the last winter months with lots of good food, fun activities and regular feel-good film nights.
I know people often associate comfort foods with unhealthy ingredients; meals that leave you feeling bloated, sluggish and like you’ve swallowed an anvil. The sort of comfort food I’m talking about is more nutritious than that but still gives you the fuzzies when you need them most.
Turn on the oven and switch on the fairy lights… it’s time to get cozy!
Serves 2 as a main meal, 4 with sides
Prep time: none
Cooking time: 10 minutes + 20 minutes
200g macaroni (or any pasta shape you have; I used wholewheat penne)
1 tbsp flour
1 generous tbsp vegan margarine
200ml non-dairy milk
4 tbsps nutritional yeast (nooch) + 1 tbsp to sprinkle
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp mustard (optional)
1/2 can pumpkin puree, unsweetened
salt and pepper, to taste
Cook the pasta according to package instructions.
In a saucepan melt the margarine over medium to high heat, then add the flour, stirring with a wooden spoon to combine both (this creates what we call a ‘roux’.) Gradually pour in the non-dairy milk whilst continuously stirring. After a handful of minutes the sauce will begin to thicken. If it threatens to boil over, lower the heat a tad.
You can now add the nooch, garlic powder and mustard to the sauce, stirring as you do so. When the sauce has thickened sufficiently, take the pan off the heat and stir in the pumpkin puree.
When the pasta is cooked, drain the water but retain about half a cup of the cooking water, which you will stir into the sauce to bind it and thin it out if you have accidentally cooked it too long.
Pour the sauce over the pasta and stir. At this point, you can serve the pasta if you can bear to wait no longer, but if you want a little more va va voom to your meal, pour the pasta and its sauce into a greased pie dish, sprinkle some nooch over the top and bake for 20 minutes in a pre-heated oven at 180ºC.
* The mustard gives the sauce a very cheesy flavour. If you want a milder flavour, omit the mustard. Additionally, if you do choose to use mustard, just use your favourite kind–I’m not too bothered about the whole English or Dijon thing.
* Tip: keep stirring the sauce so it doesn’t burn or boil over.
* If you’re still hanging on to Christmas and its trademark flavours, add less or no nooch at all and instead double the pumpkin puree and sprinkle a little bit of ground cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves to the sauce. Omit the mustard, too.