Vegan comfort food to the max. Butternut squash, garlic, smoked paprika ... pureed into a velvety sauce that smothers al dente whole wheat penne. And then sprinkled with herbed bread crumbs, and baked until bubbly and golden-brown. Mmmm.
For the pasta:
8ounceswhole wheat penne pasta
1cupchopped yellow onionabout 1/2 medium onion
2medium cloves garlicminced
1/4teaspoonkosher salt + more to taste
1/8teaspoonfreshly ground black pepper + more to taste
1tablespoonTamari or low-sodium soy sauceto taste
4cupsdiced peeled butternut squashabout 1/2 medium squash
1/2cupcanned full-fat coconut milk
2teaspoonsfreshly squeezed lemon juice
For the breadcrumb topping:
1/2teaspoondried thymeor 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package directions, stopping 1 to 2 minutes short of the recommended cooking time so that the pasta is nice and al dente. Drain, return to pot, and set aside.
While the pasta is cooking, start the sauce. Set a large saute pan over medium heat. When hot, add the olive oil. Add the onions and saute, stirring occasionally, until soft and turning brown, 7-8 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, for another minute.
Add broth, stirring to loosen up the bits of cooked onion at the bottom of the pan. Stir in the dry mustard, smoked paprika, salt, black pepper, and Tamari. Add the butternut squash. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cover the pan. Cook until the squash is tender, 7-8 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Remove veggies from heat, remove lid, and let sit until cool enough to handle. Transfer to the pitcher of a blender. Add coconut milk and lemon juice. Puree until smooth. Taste and add additional salt and pepper, if desired. If the sauce is too thick to move around in the blender, thin it with a little more vegetable broth.
Pour the butternut sauce over the pasta in the pot. Stir gently to combine. Pour into a 2-quart baking dish (approx. 8-inch by 8-inch should be fine). It will seem seem soupy, but it will thicken up when it bakes!
Make the breadcrumb topping. Add Panko breadcrumbs to a small bowl along with the thyme, paprika, and salt. Mix to combine. Drizzle the olive oil over the breadcrumb mix and stir until combined. Spoon over the top of the pasta.
Bake at 350 degrees until bubbly and the breadcrumbs are golden brown, about 25 minutes.
Let cool for a few minutes before serving.
Use gluten-free pasta (I recommend brown rice pasta for this recipe)