I have always loved macaroni and cheese. It's one of my favorite comfort foods of all! But of course with Matt being lactose intolerant (and this being a plant based blog) I'm always looking for ways to avoid using dairy, and instead, use plant based alternatives so we can still enjoy our favorite foods.
There are so many healthy ways to make delicious mac n' cheese just using plants. This recipe uses a comforting cashew butternut squash sauce and a little nutritional yeast to give it a simple but very healthy cheese-like flavor. It's delicious and a great way to sneak in more veggies into your day.
If you have never used Nutritional Yeast, you should try it. It basically makes things "cheesy". I love the BRAGG nutritional yeast and you can usually find it in the oils/vinegar section or in the vitamin/supplement section of the grocery store. I've been using this product for about 5 years now and it's one of my holy grails and makes a mean cheesy cashew-basil sauce for my favorite dairy free lasagna...I need to get that on the blog soon! But seriously, it's so healthy (tons of vitamins and minerals) and super popular in the dairy free, vegan, and vegetarian communities. A great product that I highly recommend.
I will preface this by saying that this cheese sauce turned out to be more of a nice Fall and Autumn inspired mac n cheese. Which is perfect because it's almost Fall. So excited!
The addition of the oven roasted butternut squash really gives it the most delicious wholesome flavor that just reminds me of the joys and tastes of the upcoming cooler seasons. It's simple, creamy, fresh, and comforting. A healthy and nutritious mac n cheese alternative! It definitely does the job of satisfying my comfort food cravings!
If you have never made roasted butternut squash, have no fear. I have a very helpful recipe and video I put up on the blog last year for Roasted Butter Nut Squash with Thyme and Rosemary so check that out for a simple tutorial on how to roast the butternut squash in the oven - just omit the thyme and rosemary for this recipe.
Creamy Cashew Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese Recipe - Vegan / Dairy Free
1 cup roasted butternut squash
1 cup raw cashews (soak in water for 20-30 minutes before using them so they soften up)
2 cups unsweetened plant milk (I used almond milk)
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
2-3 Tbsp oil or melted vegan butter (I like the Earth Balance brand)
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
12 oz elbow macaroni
1. Prepare butternut squash by cutting it long ways down the middle and removing the seeds and pulp. Cut into small cubes and roast on a baking sheet with a little olive oil, salt, and garlic powder, in a 400 F degree oven for about 30 minutes, tossing them after 15 minutes. Click here for my video tutorial!
2. Prepare macaroni pasta according to package instructions.
3. Combine all of the ingredients (except for pasta) in a high speed blender and blend on high for 2-3 minutes until creamy. Sample it and adjust seasonings to taste! You may even need to add a little more nutritional yeast if you want it to be more cheesy.
4. Add the sauce to the pasta. Stir well and portion in individual serving bowls. Top with some fresh cracked pepper, smoked paprika, and more salt if needed! Dig in!