Vegan Butternut Squash Mac ‘n “Cheese”
When I was in university, this dish was by far the most requested from my friends. Every time we had a group dinner or potluck (which was actually a lot because my friends and I were cute af), EVERYONE wanted my “mac ‘n cheese”. I was always hesitant to call it that because it’s more like pasta with a delicious squash sauce, but everyone was quick to call it my “special” mac ‘n cheese, and it was always a huge crowd pleaser. Even our very non-vegan, cheese-loving friends were obsessed!
I never thought to put it up on here, I guess because there are so many recipes like it around the internet for dairy-free mac ‘n cheese. Many of them use cashews, which are undoubtedly decadent and delicious (and you can even add them in here if you want), but I was thrilled to discover that you can achieve the same thick, cheesy sauce with SQUASH! When I posted about this on my Instagram the other day, many of you requested it, so I’m here to deliver.
I’ve been making this recipe for probably close to 4 years, and over time, I’ve continuously adapted it from many different recipes. I got the idea to use miso from the Food 52 cookbook, which gives it that salty, umami goodness that you would typically get with cheese.
The following is my current easiest and tastiest version, so I hope you love it! I also always add some cooked green veggies (usually broccoli and/or spinach) to stretch it out and make it extra nutritious. Caramelized onions mixed in are certainly not a bad idea either 😉 The baked version with the gluten-free topping is totally optional, but definite brings it over the top if serving to a crowd!
- 1 small butternut squash
- ½ c. unsweetened, plain non-dairy milk (I like almond or cashew)
- 6 tbsp. nutritional yeast
- ½ tsp. garlic powder
- ½ tsp. salt
- ¼ tsp. turmeric
- 2 tsp. white miso
- 2 tbsp. olive oil or vegan butter
- ½ lemon, juiced
- 2 tsp. cornstarch
- 350g pasta of choice (about 4 servings)
- Veggies of choice to mix in (broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, onion, etc.)
- Optional: 1/4 c. or so of soaked raw cashews to make it extra decadent!
- 1 tbsp. vegan butter
- 1/4 c. raw sunflower seeds
- 1/4 c. almond flour
- 2 tbsp. hemp seeds
- Salt + pepper
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and slice your squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seedy flesh and drizzle the cut side with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place both halves cut side down on a baking sheet and bake for 40-50 mins (depending on size of squash) or the flesh is very soft when you insert a fork into it. Set aside to cool.
- In a large blender or food processor, add your milk, nutritional yeast, spices, vegan butter, lemon and cornstarch. Measure out 1 heaping cup of the butternut squash and place that in the blender as well. If you're using cashews, add them in as well. Blend on high until you have a thick, uniform, smooth sauce.
- In a large pot, cook your pasta according to the package instructions. Drain and place back into the pot, then pour in all your cheese sauce and allow it to cook on medium for a few minutes to thicken.
- If you're using veggies, cook them as desired (I like to give them a quick saute or steam them - spinach you can just stir right in because it will wilt in the hot cheese sauce!) then stir them into the pot along with the pasta and sauce and mix until combined.
- If you're making the topping, heat your vegan butter in a small pan over medium, then add in your topping ingredients. Cook them for a few minutes or until nice and browned, then remove from heat.
- Transfer all of your pasta into a large, oven safe casserole dish and sprinkle the topping over it. Place back in the oven (which should still be at 425) and let it cook for 10 mins or so, keeping an eye on it to make sure it doesn't burn.
- Remove from the oven, divide into 6 portions and enjoy!