The election is behind us. There’s a promising coronavirus vaccine on the way from Pfizer and BioNTech. The foliage shimmers in all its autumnal glory. Things seem to be looking a bit up.

Let’s chase down all this good news with a nourishing bowl of comfort food: Mac and cheese. But vegan culinary wizard Chef Chloe Coscarelli being the star that she is, has jazzed things up to make a classic colder weather comfort dish even better. Her secret? Canned pumpkin and curry paste, as the celebrity plant-based chef revealed in a recent Instagram post.

By giving the traditional supper an Asian-inspired flair, Coscarelli breathes new life into a standard mac and cheese recipe, along with plenty of nutrition thanks to wholesome ingredients like pumpkin, garlic, red curry paste, and fresh cilantro. We also love the touch of sweetness the recipe gets from coconut milk and some brown sugar. To make it for yourself, check out the full recipe in her IG caption below.

As a fellow graduate of Coscarelli’s culinary school, the Natural Gourmet Institute, now part of the Institute of Culinary Education, I can personally attest to the power of curry. On one particularly grueling, hot day in the steamy kitchen, we made a curry sauce from scratch with roasted and ground cumin, ground cumin, cloves, peppercorns, curry powder, the works, and the reward of that homemade labor hitting your tongue was well worth it. Which is to say, it was delicious, but took quite the effort to make from scratch.

These days, when half our days seem to be dominated by reading up on the ever-evolving coronavirus situation, post-election news, and going stir-crazy from the whole not seeing our friends thing, picking up a jar of red curry paste is a decision we strongly back. With that reclaimed 30 minutes of your life, go ahead and treat yourself some more—we hear that leftover pumpkin purée fares pretty well in these Vegan Pumpkin Almond Butter Brownies.

P.S. Love plant-based mac and cheese? Try this vegan sweet potato mac and cheese and host a little vegan mac and cheese contest.

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