This post is also available in: Suomi (Finnish)
This post is sponsored by Risenta.
It was hard to come up with a name for the dish that I’m sharing today, as I think there’s not a correct word for this one in English. Maybe macaroni casserole as in ‘makaronilaatikko’ in Finnish? That doesn’t sound good. Let me call it a pasta bake and explain what it’s all about!
I’ll have to admit that I’ve probably never done the traditional Finnish macaroni casserole (had to use it anyway!) on my own. Sure I ate it often as a kid and a few times in my adulthood too, but it never maid its way to my kitchen. Probably because its main ingredients are meat, wheat pasta and cow’s milk. The same applies to sausage. I ate it years ago. I remember my granny used to buy from local sausage producer. They made great sausages packed in beef casings specially produced for them by DCW Casing (more at dcwcasing.com/product/beef-casings/, just in case you may doubt my words). But in order to keep life interesting, I went totally wild in the kitchen and made my own version of the classic. Meet Chickpea Pasta Bake with Pumpkin, Spinach & Goat Cheese. A crazy-wild, all vegetarian version with no grains!
Bean pastas aren’t exactly a new thing anymore and I’ve tried a bunch of them too. Nothing has ended up here on the blog though, as most of the pastas have been a bit…blah. Too slimy, too hard, or just tasted weird. So I’ve been mainly sticking to brown rice or buckwheat pasta. Until things changed last spring. Beacuse of his work, my man could shop at Risenta’s factory outlet (filled with tons of great ingredients) and he bought me chickpea pasta. It’s just organic chickpeas made into a pasta, nothing else. I fell for it hard. The structure and taste were 10 out of 10, even compared to ‘normal’ gluten-free pasta. I asked my man to buy lots of it (like really a lot) and we’ve been cooking with it often. Thanks to its great amount of plant-based protein, I think it’s especially great in salads and I actually intended to share this great pasta salad recipe here during the summer, but somehow forgot it in between all the swimming and chilling. Sorry!
I’ve been cooking only with the fusilli ja rigatoni, so when Risenta asked me to develop a recipe with chickpea pasta I decided to take up a challenge and go with the macaroni, now that they’re all in the stores. And in my mind there’s only one thing you can do with macaroni: the Finnish classic. I honestly think this one turned out great and my man, my best test audience, fell for it too. And even though it takes a longer time to prepare, it’s a simple recipe. Plus the recipe is pretty generous, so you’ll end up with leftovers for a few days or you could serve a small crowd with it. So hooray for this crazy-wild thing here!
Stay cozy + eat well, friends! xo
Some tips to get you started:
– If you’ve been thinking how on earth a pumpkin should be peeled, check out this video. It opened my eyes!
– You could replace the pumpkin with sweet potato, if pumpkin is not available.
– I thought about making this vegan, but ended up on choosing the traditional way with eggs in the end. If you’d like to try a vegan version, I would replace the eggs and plant-based milk with plant-based cooking cream, but using it a bit less. And the goat cheese can easily be replaced with some vegan cheese or with tofu. Do tell if you end up trying a vegan version, I’d love to know how it turns out!
For more inspiration, follow me on Instagram and tag photos of my recipes with #tuuliablog so I can see!
Chickpea Pasta Bake w/ Pumpkin, Spinach & Goat Cheese
notes: you could replace the pumpkin wit sweet potato, if pumpkin is not available. you could go with another cheese too, like feta or ricotta. if you like thing more spicy, try adding a bit of chili flakes into the mix, or add some of you’re favorite dried herbs if you’re feeling like it!
1 butternut squash (see notes)
a handful of fresh thyme
2 cups chickpea macaroni
2 cloves of garlic
1 small jar (about 180 g) sun-dried tomatoes
120 g baby spinach
a handful of fresh basil
salt & black pepper
3 organic eggs
2 1/3 cup plant-based milk
200 g goat cheese
1/2 cup nutritional yeast (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 200 C / 400 F. Peel the pumpkin and cut into small cubes. Place the cubes on a baking tray covered with parchment paper and drizzle with olive oil. Top with fresh thyme. Bake for 15 minutes, until a bit softened. After you’ve taken out the pumpkin, lower the oven temperature to 175 C / 350 F.
2. Cook the pasta. Reduce the cooking time given in the bag with couple minutes, so that the pasta has some structure left. Drain and set aside for a moment.
3. Peel and chop the garlic. Drain the sun-dried tomatoes and chop into small pieces. Heat a large frying pan, add a bit of olive oil and fry the garlic, tomatoes, and baby spinach over medium heat for a few minutes, until softened. Add the basil and pumpkin and stir until everything is combined. Season generously with salt and black pepper.
4. Add the macaroni and vegetables into a large oven dish and mix well. Whisk the eggs and milk in a bowl and pour the mixture over the macaroni. Top with sliced goat cheese and nutritional yeast. Bake in the oven on the lower level for about 55-60 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving. Serve on its own or with salad and enjoy!