vegan mac and cheese recipe

S.W. Recipe: Vegan Butternut Squash Mac ‘n “Cheese”

 So, if you think this post is going to be all about how I love mac ‘n cheese, but how I’m vegan and the struggle is so real… you’re wrong. For one, I’m one of the few people in the universe that is lukewarm on mac ‘n cheese (childhood incident involving vomit – k?). Moreover, I am decidedly NOT vegan. I like half and half in my coffee, cheese pizza, yogurt, Ben & Jerry’s, etc.

I do, however, know I should at least try to sometimes avoid the deliciousness that is dairy for the sake of my skin. I also have a bizarre obsession with root vegetables (the S.W. team actually makes fun of how many sweet potatoes I consume), could eat pasta for every meal, and I am always down for a culinary experiment for the sake of a blog post. Also, I’m not too crazy about regular mac ‘n cheese, so I figured why the hell not make a butternut squash vegan mac ‘n cheese for y’all?

 

Let’s stop talking about me and start talking about this recipe and why you, dear reader, should be interested in it. To get your burning question out of the way.. this doesn’t really “taste like cheese” in the traditional sense, nor does it have that gooeyness that makes all the boys come to the yard. With that said, this dish is deeply comforting, vaguely cheese-y (the cashews add creaminess and the nutritional yeast adds tang), and it is the color of mac ‘n cheese. SO IT’S CLOSE ENOUGH! 🙂

 

In all seriousness, what you don’t get in cheese you do get in health: This dish is great for you and, by proxy, great for your skin. To elaborate… while awesome, dairy can pose skin problems for people given its high hormone content (ew, I know). With this recipe, you’re going 100% dairy-free (which is dandy) plus you’re getting crazy-high levels of skin-loving Vitamin A from ye golden squash. Win win. The addition of protein-packed cashews, immune-boosting (and all-around superfood) nutritional yeast, and some fresh herbs (sage and thyme) means this is basically the healthiest damn pasta you’ll ever encounter. You should probably also wear it as a face mask, just sayin’.

 

Ahead is the recipe and method — read on and dig in. Second and third helpings are, by the way, totally mandatory.

 

S.W. Vegan Butternut Squash Mac ‘n Cheese

INGREDIENTS:

  • 12 oz tube / shell dry pasta (pick your poison – I prefer the plain old gluten version, but you could do whole wheat, brown rice, gluten free, whatever)
    2 butternut squash
    the juice of one lemon
    3-5 tablespoons nutritional yeast
    several bunches of fresh thyme and sage
    One cup cashews, soaked in water for 2 hours
    One cup cashew milk
    1 cup panko breadcrumbs, sautéed in olive oil and herbs (for topping)

METHOD:

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

BOIL (yes boil) your butternut squash in a large stockpot. Cook for 45 minutes, or until you can poke the flesh easily with a knife. Scoop out the flesh from the skin and transfer into a food processor. Add the lemon juice, soaked cashews, cashew milk, nutritional yeast, and all the herbs you want. Blend until smooth. (this is your “cheese”)

Meanwhile, bring your pasta to boil, cooking for 3-4 minutes LESS than the suggested cooking time. While your pasta boils, you can saute your panko breadcrumbs in a skillet with a generous pour of olive oil and add in herbs towards the end. The breadcrumbs should be brown and crispy.

Remove the pasta and mix together with your “cheese” in a baking dish, being sure all noodles are covered. Add the panko breadcrumbs on top. Transfer the dish into the oven and cook for 30 mins…. then EAT!

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