Ladies, it’s time to pull on your Fugg boots and belly up to the Starbucks bar to order ye sugar-laden Pumpkin Spice lattes! Just kidding, it’s like 99 degrees and I’m sitting in bed sweating. Le sigh…it’s ice water and sandals for me. Los Angeles, have you no mercy??
Having 4 seasons of summer is fun, I guess.
…if you’re a masochist and also a freak of nature and like also we can’t be friends.
On a lighter note, I have successfully sprouted an herb garden on my apartment porch (okay, fine FINE I bought them as starter plants) but they totally still count. I planted rosemary, basil, cilantro, sage, thyme and oregano. So far, they’re thriving…minus the lavender that was already there and is so beyond dead, I should have bought a tombstone for it instead of a new pot. I have become this weird creepily-attached plant mother…watching over them, obsessing over them, breathing too heavily on them. Like, I’m the batty lady watering her plants in her tube socks at 6 am just a littttttle too exuberantly. I don’t have a dog. So sue me.
I’ve been putting my herbs in EVERYTHING I’ve been cooking. One day I’ll have a huge stinky farm where I can grow all my veggies but until then…these herbs will have to suffice. SO, what do earthy sage, sweet pumpkin and creamy dairy-free cheese sauce have in common? THEY ALL TASTE DELICIOUS IN MY MOUTH. Plus, they look damn fine together. See above drool-worthy pic and slightly artsier pic below. YAS.
The health properties of this nutritious take on a classic Fall comfort dish are abundant. Grannies rejoice; sage’s oil extract is a terrific memory enhancer and contains active compounds similar to those engineered to stop the progression of Alzheimer’s. Pumpkin is not just for carving and/or squashing on people’s front porches, turns out it’s super rich in antioxidants and has one of the highest levels of Vitamin A (code for good eyesight) around. Nutritional yeast delivers a healthy dose of Vitamin B12 and when you toss it with quinoa pasta, you’re fillin’ up on fiber as well. Sayonara, Kraft. We don’t need you ’round the dinner table no mo’.
Pumpkin Sage Mac n’ Cheese
- 2 tablespoons Earth balance (or other non-dairy butter replacement, can also use extra-virgin olive oil)
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 3/4 yellow onion
- 2 cups mushrooms, sliced (optional)
- 1 cup unsweetened plain plant-based milk
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch (can also use arrowroot powder)
- 5 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
- Sea salt, to taste
- 1 cup fresh pumpkin puree (or 1 cup Organic pumpkin-only canned puree)
- 1 bunch fresh sage
- 8 oz fiber-rich elbow macaroni pasta (I used ancient grain GF quinoa)
- Cook pasta according to directions and set aside to cool.
- In a medium pot, heat the Earth balance over medium-low. Add garlic and saute 2-3 minutes. Add onion and saute another 3 minutes more.
- Carefully spoon out the veggies into a high speed blender along with milk and cornstarch. Bled until liquid consistency. Add this mixture back into the pot and set over medium heat.
- When mixture begins to bubble, stir in the nutritional yeast, black and cayenne peppers, and chili powder. Add a little more milk or some water if it’s too thick. Stir in the pumpkin puree and sage and let it thicken and bubble for 3-5 minutes. Taste to see if it needs more salt and/or peppa. Remove from heat, combine with pasta and stir in mushrooms (if using).
- You can either chop some of the sage leaves and mix them in, or fry them. They’re deliciously crunchy when fried, trust me. To fry, heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a small skillet over heat. Toss in 6-7 leaves of sage at a time, frying for 3-5 seconds or until brown. Remove and let dry on a paper towel, then give a sprinkle of course sea salt. Repeat in small batches for however much sage flavor you want. Stir fried sage in with pumpkin mac and serve warm.