Recipe | Butternut Squash Mac n’ Cheese

Ohhhhh myyy gosssshhhh.

I can’t believe I haven’t shared the recipe for my favorite vegan comfort food in the universe with you all until now. Even when I wasn’t a vegan, mac n’ cheese (the gross dairy kind) was one of my favorite junk foods and guilty pleasures. Now that I make a vegan version at home, there’s no need to call it junk food or a guilty pleasure anymore! It’s actually really good for you, and tastes pretty darn awesome.

This recipe needs a strong enough blender to get all of the sauce whipped up into the creamy delight that goes in your pasta. If you don’t have a blender, ask a friend or family member that have one if you can borrow theirs! My blender was definitely an investment, so consider if adding one to your kitchen would be useful for you or not. 👍

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 cup cashews (soaked in water overnight or boiled to soften)
  • 2 cups cooked butternut squash
  • 1 box (12 oz) of any pasta (I used tri-color rotini)
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 3tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric (*optional)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk 
  • 1/4 cup vegetable stock (as needed)
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar

Peel the skin off of your butternut squash with a SHARP vegetable peeler. If you don’t have one, you can cut the skin off carefully with a knife. Chop the ends off and discard them. Composting is a great way to use those end pieces!

Cut the squash in half and scoop out the insides with a spoon. Discard those pieces as well. Now you can cut the squash halves into cubes / chunks. Make sure they aren’t too big, because they won’t cook as quickly that way.

Preheat your oven to 375℉ (190℃). Line a baking tray with some foil and spray it down with some non-stick cooking spray or coat with olive oil. Spread out the squash chunks evenly and sprinkle a touch of salt and pepper over the top. Bake for 30 minutes and flip around the pieces halfway through the cooking time.

While the squash is cooking, boil your cashews for 15 minutes and then drain them (or if you have soaked them already then get them out!) Set the cashews aside in a bowl and grab a separate bowl to mix all of your seasonings together. Stir together the smoked paprika, salt, pepper, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, onion powder, and *turmeric.

Add the seasonings to the bowl of cashews and toss well to coat them evenly. Let them sit in the bowl until the squash has finished cooking.

Check to make sure the squash is soft and a fork can go right through it easily. It may also get golden brown and slightly crisped up on most of the pieces, which is perfect. 👌 Let the squash cool down for about 10-15 minutes. Blending piping hot food isn’t the greatest idea. 🙊

Once the squash has cooled down, add it to the blender along with the cashews, almond milk, and apple cider vinegar. Take your time and add 1/4 cup of vegetable stock at a time if the sauce is too thick. I had to do this once or twice to make it a creamier consistency. You want the sauce to pour out of the blender easily, without too much scraping or prodding involved. When your done it should look something like this.💛

I cooked my pasta of choice when I was done with the sauce, but you can prepare it whenever you are ready. Cook to your desired taste, and then pour the sauce right in. Stir it up well and then stand back and admire your work.✨

This makes great leftovers for the next day, but I recommend you reheat it and stir it up pretty well. The sauce can thicken up once it is refrigerated. But it’s still delicious anyway! 😋

I hope you give this recipe a shot and enjoy it just as much as I do! As always, you can post a photo of your creations with the hashtag #sunlightofthemind so I can see the cool things you try!

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