Feature Recipe | Butternut Mac n Cheese
Never in a million years did I guess that when the kids saw a butternut squash it would trigger “PLEASE MOM, CAN WE HAVE MACARONI & CHEESE TONIGHT?” 😝 Until we decided to go plant-based, butternut squash was my prized vegetable for winter soups — and its culinary promise ended there. I was never intrigued enough to experiment with this gorgeous winter squash variety until I started to see butternut squash praised as the ultimate ingredient for creamy, rich plant-based cheese sauces.
After more than a dozen different ways of making plant-based mac n cheese I would say this is THE ONE for two reasons:
1/Simplicity: Begin with a basic roux sauce (vegan butter, soy milk and flour) and layer on the flavour.
2/Cashew-parmesan cheese, sage and Dijon mustard are a dynamite trio that harmonizes with the sweet, slightly nutty taste of the butternut squash.
If kid-friendly isn’t in your wheelhouse don’t be put off by this recipe…add a layer of sophistication by garnishing with finely chopped scallions, crispy Panko Topping and/or sea salt flakes. In the spirit of ultimate comfort food here are a few of our favourite cheesy pasta dishes:
This & That
- 1 lb dry pasta
- 1 large butternut squash
Savoury Parmesan Cheese (yields approx. 1 cup)
- 3/4 cup raw cashews
- 2 tsp hemp seeds (shelled)
- 1 tsp Himalayan pink salt
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 2 Tbsp vegan butter
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 green onion, finely chopped
- 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1.5 cups soy milk
- Steamed butternut squash (approx.. 1.5 lb/650g)
- Pinch dried sage
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 3/4 cup savoury parmesan cheese
- 1/3 cup reserved (pasta) cooking water
- 1/4 cup savoury parmesan cheese
- 1 green onion, finely chopped (Optional)
- Crispy Panko Topping (Optional)
Prep It (see Recipe Notes)
1/Prepare one batch of Savoury Parmesan Cheese; set aside
2/Prepare one batch of Crispy Panko Topping; set aside (Optional)
3/Steam 1.5-2lbs butternut squash, peeled, deseeded & cut into coarse chunks
4/Cook 1lb pasta as directed; reserve 1/2 cup cooking water
1/Add vegan butter to a pot on medium-low heat. Once the butter has melted, add minced garlic and chopped green onion to the skillet. Sauté for a few minutes until onions start to become tender.
2/Reduce heat to low. Add flour and soy milk to the pot. Whisk until you have a roux mixture for your sauce base.
3/Adjust to medium-high heat. Add steamed butternut squash, dried sage, Dijon mustard and 3/4 cup parmesan cheese to the skillet. Combine well. Cook (lid covered) for 10 minutes.
4/Transfer mixture to a food processor or high-powered blender. Process until the mixture is puréed into a smooth mixture.
5/Add reserved (pasta) cooking water. Process for 30 seconds. Taste and adjust seasoning as required. Your sauce is ready!
Pour sauce over plated pasta and garnish with reserved parmesan cheese, finely chopped scallions and Crispy Panko Topping (optional).
*How to prep Savoury Parmesan Cheese:
Add dry ingredients to a food processor or high-powered blender. Pulse until well combined. Add lemon juice. Pulse until the mixture just starts to combine.
Important! Don’t pulse too much– the cheese should be granular and not a paste.
*How to prepare Panko Topping:
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
- Pinch of Himalayan pink salt
In a small prep bowl combine olive oil, panko breadcrumbs and a pinch of salt until the mixture has a coarse/crumbly texture.