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 (1.5-2lb)
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
- Butternut squash, steamed
- 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 chunks0
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 1/4 cup 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.