This baked vegan butternut squash mac and cheese uses a creamy cashew cheese sauce without dairy, coconut milk or vegan cheeses. An indulgent and comforting meal that is easy to make.
- 1/2 a medium butternut squash**, seeds removed
- 1 large shallot, quartered
- 8 cloves of garlic with their peels
- 8 sprigs of thyme, optional
- 1/2 cup raw cashews, unsalted
- 12 sage leaves
- 1 cup unsweetened cashew milk
- 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
- 1 1/2 tbsp tapioca starch
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tsp white or yellow miso paste
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- 8 oz of pasta (I like to use small shells or macaroni)
- Avocado Oil, for roasting
- Kosher salt and pepper to taste
Bread Crumb Topping
- 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1 1/2 tbsp oil
- Set the oven to 400F. To a parchment lined baking sheet add the butternut squash, shallot, and garlic. Drizzle everything with oil, spread it over the cut side of the squash and toss everything else to coat. Season with a generous pinch of salt and top the squash with the thyme sprigs (optional), then flip it over so it is cut side down on the pan. Place the pan in the oven to roast for 20 minutes. Remove the garlic cloves and shallots then roast the squash for an additional 10 minutes or until fork tender.
- While the squash roasts, add the cashews to a bowl and cover with boiling water. Allow the cashews to soak for at least 15 minutes and drain. Then, bring a large sauce pan with water to a boil and salt generously. Once boiling, add the pasta and cook until al dente according to the instructions of the pasta. Reserve 1/4 cup of the pasta water and drain the pasta and place back in the pot.
- Once the squash is safe enough to handle, scoop out 1 cup of the flesh and add it to a blender along with the drained cashews, garlic, shallots, sage, milk, nutritional yeast, starch, paprika, lemon juice, miso, mustard, 3/4 teaspoon of kosher salt and reserved pasta water. Blend on high until the sauce is creamy.
- Pour the sauce over the pasta and mix to coat then place into a greased 9-in x 9-in baking dish. Combine the breadcrumb topping ingredients and top the pasta with the mixture. Place back in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until the crumb topping is golden before serving.
Salt your pasta water. Remember that this is an opportunity to infuse more flavor into your pasta, so salt it generously.
Adjust flavors to taste. Taste your sauce. Palates vary and you may find that the sauce needs some extra nutritional yeast, miso or salt. Do note that if you blended in the tapioca starch, you will have some of those starchy notes to the sauce. It will bake off.
Don’t skip roasting your squash. It adds a richer flavor to the sauce. I don’t like peeling butternut squash so I just roast it in half. But if you have cubed butternut squash, you can roast it in the oven for about 25 minutes until nice and soft.
**Roast extra squash. While I use half a medium squash in the recipe, everyone’s perception of size can vary. To be safe and make sure you have enough squash, just roast both halves. Save leftovers for other recipes.
If you don’t have a high speed blender, soak your cashews with boiling water from a teakettle for an hour or with cool water overnight. This will help to soften the cashews significantly so they blend easier.
Keywords: vegan butternut squash pasta, baked butternut squash pasta