Vegan Mac & Cheese With Butternut Squash

Vegan Mac & Cheeze // Casual Classic

Full disclosure: I am not vegan, nor would I like to be (no offense to all you that are, I just really enjoy a good, grass fed hamburger on occasion). The reason I attempt vegan or vegetarian recipes sometimes though, is because I don't like to eat meat at every meal and I really try to limit my intake. Also, when I'm craving some bad food, like mac and cheese, I try my very best to give it a healthy twist so I don't feel like crap after eating it. This one was a huge success!

Vegan Mac & Cheeze // Casual Classic

We love doing some type of yummy comfort food on Sunday's, whether it's pancakes (paleo and gluten free of course), quinoa bowls, or this time, vegan mac and cheese. I honestly have to say, I wasn't sure this one would work. How could you fake mac and cheese? Let's just say I was super doubtful. I got on my computer and searched for some recipes, and stumbled across this one, by one of my favorite food bloggers. 

Now this recipe has a slight twist... It's not your typical "cashew cheese and nutritional yeast" vegan mac. This one uses butternut squash as the main cheesy ingredient, and it was freaking good. A little garlic, a little dijon mustard, some almond milk and nutritional yeast, and the result was a creamy, cheesy sauce. I do have to say though, I used a really high quality, organic, grass fed butter instead of Earth Balance in this recipe. I can't stand that stuff! I also went with trader joes quinoa and brown rice gluten free pasta, which is my absolute favorite. I added some peas for a little extra protein and flavor, but you can add anything from kale to sausage. 

Vegan Mac & Cheese // Casual Classic

I doubled the recipe below as I wanted to have some leftovers. It's Thanksgiving week, and we have barely any groceries in our house and are heading out of town in a couple days, so this was the perfect Sunday meal. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 1 butternut squash
  • 1 bag Trader Joes gluten free brown rice and quinoa pasta (or whatever pasta you prefer)
  • EVOO (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1 tbsp organic grass fed butter (or Earth Balance for vegan)
  • 3/4 cup unflavored and unsweetened almond milk (I think cashew milk would be amazing in this recipe though)
  • 1 tbsp arrowroot powder (or flour if not gluten free)
  • 6 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tsp himalayan salt & pepper to taste 

Directions:

  1. Preheat the over to 425 degrees F.
  2. Peel and cut the butternut squash in half. Scoop out and remove the seeds. Chop the butternut squash into little cubs and toss in the EVOO, salt and pepper. Place on a baking tray and bake for about 35 minutes or until it's soft to the touch.
  3. While the butternut squash is cooking, start on the cheese sauce. Heat the butter in a pot over low/medium heat, and whisk the almond milk and arrowroot powder in a separate bowl until there are no clumps. 
  4. Add the almond milk mixture to the pot and stir. Add the remaining ingredients (dijon mustard, garlic and onion powders, nutritional yeast, lemon, salt and pepper) and mix over low heat until the mix thickens.
  5. Cook the pasta according to the package.
  6. Once the butternut squash is done cooking, mix 1.5 cups of the cubed butternut squash with the cheese sauce in a blender. Puree until smooth.
  7. Add the butternut squash/cheese mix to the pasta and stir until it is well blended. You can also add in the peas, broccoli or whatever mix in you want at this point. 
  8. ENJOY!!