Creamy Vegan Mac and Cheese with Butternut Squash

The best vegan mac and cheese recipe for satisfying those cheesy cravings. A hearty and satisfying bowl of smoky, cheesy yum!

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Nothing says comfort food more than a creamy mac and cheese.

It seems everyone has some childhood memory attached to it, and for me it always reminds me of dark, wet and cold nights with winter around the corner.

Even while I loved this dish growing up – and it was never just a side dish in our family, always the star of the show! – I always found it rich and heavy, and started eating it less as an adult.

So you can imagine how excited I was to create a vegan mac and cheese recipe that brought back all the silky creaminess and gooey cheesiness I remember but without the heaviness. The nutritional yeast, miso, lemon and dijon give the cheesy tang to the dish, while the veggies and seasonings replace that heaviness with a warming, smoky and slightly spicy hum.

Light, creamy, smoky and soooo cheesy all the way, with a kick of heat if that’s your thing. It certainly is mine!

 

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I tried a lot of vegan mac and cheese recipes tweaking as I went along and there are two things that make a really big difference.

First,  I’ve seen quite a few recipes online that use only butternut squash and cashews which for me results in a very runny sauce.

I prefer using cauliflower or potato (I use both here) along with butternut squash as it gives more body to the sauce and means you don’t ever have to use cornstarch or any other thickener. Just blend thoroughly until you have that drip-off-the-spoon-gooiness.

Second, and only if you have the time, try roasting the butternut squash before blending it in with the other ingredients.

Roasting pretty much any vegetable caramelizes the sugars and gives an autumnal depth to it, and it works wonders with the squash in this vegan mac and cheese sauce. Simply roast the butternut squash at 420 degrees for 30 minutes or until it is soft enough that you can press it with a fork, and then add to other vegetables to blend at step 5.

If you would like to have this as a casserole, you can add the finished pasta with sauce on top to a casserole dish and cover with breadcrumbs and a sprinkling of Italian herbs. Pop in the oven at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

Comforting, creamy, smoky and cheesy – everything you want as the cold weather draws in!

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Vegan Mac and Cheese with a Smoky Butternut Squash Sauce

Yield: Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces macaroni elbows
  • 100 grams potato, cubed
  • 200 grams butternut squash, cubed
  • 100 grams cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • 1 cup almond milk (unflavored)
  • ½ cup cashews
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 tbs lemon juice
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp white or yellow miso
  • Ground black pepper to taste

Method

  1. Soften the cashews by soaking in hot water for 20 minutes or cold water for 4 hours or more.
  2. Cook macaroni al dente or as per package instructions. Drain, reserving the water, and set aside.
  3. Place potato, cauliflower and butternut squash into a deep pan and cover with water. Bring to a boil for 12 minutes or until soft enough to blend.
  4. Heat oil in a pan and roast garlic until just beginning to brown.
  5. Add sauce ingredients to a blender and blend well until smooth. Add some of the reserved cooking water a little at a time to thin if required. If you roasted the butternut squash (whoo hoo!) it will be lovely and sticky and so take a bit longer to thin out. Adjust salt, pepper and seasonings to taste.
  6. Add pasta to a bowl and cover with your creamy, cheesy sauce.

This cheese sauce really hit the spot for me with all those smoky, cheesy flavors. Let me know how it turned out for you in the comments!

 

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