When the world gets crazy, I often turn to food for comfort. Cooking is one of those spaces where my inner dialogue switches off and the worries and stresses of the outside world melt away. There is something truly cathartic about chopping vegetables, stirring risotto until it slowly soaks up all its liquid, or coaxing bread ingredients into one, live mixture of warm, rising dough.
But it’s two fold. Once you’re done with the part that relaxes the mind and carries you off somewhere, you get to sit down with the people you love and enjoy good food — one of the finest parts of life.
So far, 2021 has given us a run for our money. It’s not like we weren’t prepared. Despite the importance we place on New Year’s Eve, there is no invisible barrier that will allow us into the new year and keep out our trials from the year past. There is no filter to protect us from everything we have caused, and everything that has happened to us the year before. We have started 2021 full to the brim with challenges presented to us throughout 2020.
It is disheartening. The time of year that we normally get to unwind — recover from a bustling holiday season, and figure out what it is we want out of the coming year — has been ripped from under our feet. Instead, Covid-19 continues to worsen with each passing day. The transfer of power in our democracy was put in serious danger, and it seems like everywhere you turn, people rely on conflicting sets of truths to uphold their beliefs. Their identity. Hatred seems abundant.
All the while the world is still burning down around us and world leaders are far too distracted, rightly so, with the present threat to think about long-term solutions to that absolute threat.
Nothing pasta and red wine can’t fix, right? Wrong. But it may be the greatest form of medicine right now. The ultimate comfort food to share with the people we love. Those we are able to be with and hold close during this tumultuous hour.
I’m usually a fan of making homemade pasta. It’s incredibly simple and the noodles are silkier and more flavorful than those out of a box. This, however, is just a recipe for sauce. Creamy butternut squash pasta sauce is simple and comes together quickly. It’s comforting, delicious and completely plant based. Any substitutions and additions can be made as this is an easy recipe to get creative with.
½ small butternut squash (about 400g), roasted with olive oil salt and pepper
4-5 garlic cloves (more or less depending on your garlic preference)
1 cup Almond milk (or other milk, plant or dairy. Add more or less milk for a thicker or thinner sauce)
½ broth (or water)
¼ cup pasta water
1 tbsp. nutritional yeast (optional)
1 tsp. Salt
2 tsp. Pepper
2 tsp. Sage
2 tbsp. Lemon juice
1 tbs. Apple cider vinegar
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Roast butternut squash and garlic together (drizzled with olive oil, seasoned with salt, pepper and sage) until very tender, 30-45 minutes.
- Boil pasta, reserving ¼ cup of pasta water.
- Combine roasted squash, garlic, almond milk, broth, pasta water, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, Apple Cider Vinegar and additional salt, pepper and sage in a food processor or blender. Blend until creamy. Add more milk for preferred consistency.
- Reheat in a saucepan prior to serving.
- Top with any array of ingredients. I topped this batch with pepitas and fresh arugula. Try with your favorite toasted nuts or seeds, sausage or other spicy or salty meat/ meat alternative, or any fresh greens.