Macaro-no-cheese with crispy kale
Aine Carlin gave up meat and dairy in 2010 and has turned a successful food blog into an exciting new book.
The one thing I often encounter when people discover I'm vegan is an immediate lamentation for my cheese-less existence.
It's true that cheese is no longer a part of my life, and despite having previously spent most of my days as a total dairy fiend, even I can't quite fathom why I simply don't miss it.
Perhaps, in part, it has a lot to do with dishes like this one, which perfectly replicates that ultimate comfort food feel - and something tells me you won't be boo-hooing about the lack of cheddar either.
1 x 750-900g butternut squash, halved and deseeded
200g full-fat coconut milk
1 scant tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 vegetable stock cube
1 tsp cider vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the crispy kale
1 tbsp olive oil
150g kale, torn into bite-size pieces
1 tsp sea salt flakes
Preheat the oven to 200˚C/gas mark 6. Place the squash, flesh side down, in a roasting tin and pour in about 100ml water. Bake in the oven for an hour or until the flesh is completely soft. Leave the oven at the same temperature to cook the kale later on. Set the squash aside to cool slightly before scooping out the flesh with a spoon and blitzing with the coconut milk to a smooth purée in a blender.
Pour the purée into a saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer before adding the Dijon mustard, crumbled stock cube and cider vinegar. Season, and add a little water to loosen the sauce. Continue to simmer for a further 20 minutes until it thickens and turns pale yellow.
Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Add the pasta and cook for just slightly under the recommended time. While the pasta is cooking, rub the olive oil all over the kale pieces. Spread out over a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes or until completely crisp. Sprinkle sea salt flakes over the top.
Drain the macaroni and transfer to the pan of squash sauce. Stir to combine and heat through gently on a low heat for about five minutes.
Serve in heated bowls and top with the salty, crispy kale.