This Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese is the ultimate autumn recipe. This rich and creamy pasta dish is made with wholesome, plant-based ingredients (yes, it’s totally vegan) that your body will thank you for!
Cashew cream is my favourite way to make creamy pasta dishes (like my popular Creamy Tomato Pasta). Not only do cashews create the perfect rich and creamy texture, they’re also rich in Vitamin E, Magnesium and Zinc. To make this dish even more seasonal, you can also swap out the butternut squash for pumpkin.
This pasta dish makes for a delicious lunch or dinner to make around Christmas time. It’s seasonal, creamy and so comforting. For more seasonal recipes, try out my Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread or my Pumpkin Freezer Fudge!
If you make this Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese then please make sure to comment below or tag me in your recreations over on Instagram using @ginabnutrition – I love to see them!
How do I Add More Taste to my Mac and Cheese?
To enhance the taste of your vegan butternut squash mac & cheese, you can experiment with a variety of flavors and seasonings. Here are some suggestions to help you add more depth and complexity to your dish:
- Herbs and Spices: Incorporate a blend of herbs and spices to elevate the flavors. Consider adding a pinch of smoked paprika, thyme, rosemary, or nutmeg for extra depth and aroma.
- Roasted Garlic: Instead of using garlic powder, roast a few cloves of garlic and blend them into the sauce. Roasted garlic adds a mellow and slightly caramelized flavor that can enhance the overall taste.
- Caramelized Onions: Instead of using raw onions, caramelize them by sautéing them slowly until they turn golden brown and sweet. This can add a rich and complex flavor to the dish.
- Hot Sauce or Red Pepper Flakes: For a touch of heat, consider adding a dash of hot sauce or red pepper flakes. Spiciness can help balance out the creaminess and sweetness of the dish.
- Miso Paste: A small amount of miso paste can add umami and depth of flavor. It complements the savory elements of the dish and enhances its complexity.
- Roasted Vegetables: Roast additional vegetables like red bell peppers, cauliflower, or broccoli, and mix them into the mac and cheese. Roasted vegetables can add a smoky and slightly sweet dimension.
- Fresh Herbs: Chopped fresh herbs like parsley, chives, or basil can add a burst of freshness and color to the dish. Sprinkle them on top just before serving.
- Vegan Cheese Varieties: Experiment with different types of vegan cheeses for added flavor diversity. Some vegan cheeses have stronger flavors that can enhance the cheesiness of the dish.
- Citrus Zest: In addition to lemon juice, you can add the zest (outer peel) of lemon or orange for a fragrant and citrusy note.
- Sautéed Mushrooms: Sautéed mushrooms can provide a rich and earthy flavor that complements the creaminess of the sauce.
- Nuts and Seeds: Consider adding toasted nuts or seeds like pine nuts, walnuts, or pumpkin seeds as a crunchy topping. They can contribute texture and a nutty undertone.
How to Make My Vegan Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese
Here’s the ingredients you’ll need to make this Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese
- Butternut Squash (2 Cups, peeled & cubed): Butternut squash is a nutritious vegetable rich in vitamins A and C, as well as fiber and antioxidants. It adds a sweet and creamy texture to the dish.
- Onion (1/2 Large, peeled & quartered): Onions are commonly used to add flavor to dishes. They contain antioxidants and certain nutrients, contributing to the overall taste of the mac and cheese.
- Cashews (1/4 Cup, soaked): Cashews provide a creamy and slightly nutty flavor to the sauce when blended. They also offer healthy fats and protein. Soaking them helps soften them for easy blending.
- Garlic Powder (1/2 tsp): Garlic powder is used to add a hint of garlic flavor to the dish. It has less pungency compared to fresh garlic but still imparts a pleasant taste.
- Nutritional Yeast (3 tbsp): Nutritional yeast is a common ingredient in vegan dishes. It lends a cheesy flavor and is often used to mimic the taste of cheese. It’s also a good source of B vitamins.
- Dijon Mustard (1/2 tsp): Dijon mustard adds a tangy element to the sauce, enhancing the overall flavor profile.
- Lemon Juice (2 tsp): Lemon juice provides acidity and brightness to the sauce. It helps balance the flavors and adds a fresh note.
- Salt & Pepper (to taste): Salt enhances the flavors in the dish, while pepper adds a hint of spiciness.
- Unsweetened Dairy-Free Milk (1/4 Cup, of choice): Dairy-free milk (such as almond, soy, or oat milk) is used to achieve the desired consistency of the sauce. It also adds creaminess and moisture.
- Pasta (200 grams): Pasta serves as the base for the mac and cheese. Choose whole wheat or gluten-free options if desired.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Olive oil can be used for sautéing the onions and for a subtle depth of flavor.
- Fresh Parsley (optional): Fresh parsley can be used as a garnish to add color and a touch of freshness.
- Vegan Cheese or Parmesan (optional – for garnish): Vegan cheese or vegan parmesan can be sprinkled on top for an extra cheesy flavor and visual appeal.
Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese (Vegan, Gluten & Soy Free)
- 2 Cups Butternut Squash peeled & cubed
- 1/2 Large Brown or White Onion peeled & quartered
- 1/4 Cup Cashews soaked in boiled water for 15 minutes
- 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
- 3 tbsp Nutritional Yeast
- 1/2 tsp Dijon Mustard
- 2 tsp Lemon Juice
- Salt & Pepper (adjust to taste)
- 1/4 Cup Unsweetened Dairy-Free Milk (of choice)
- 200 grams Pasta
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Fresh Parsley (optional)
- Vegan Cheese or Parmesan (optional – for garnish)
- Add the butternut squash and chopped onion to a steamer
- Steam for around 10 minutes until the butternut squash is tender
- Put the pasta onto boil according to packet instructions
- Add the steamed butternut squash, onion, soaked cashews (drain and rinse them first), lemon juice, garlic powder, mustard, nutritional yeast, salt, pepper and milk to a blender
- Blend until smooth
- Add the blended sauce to a small saucepan and heat gently over a low heat while stirring
- Drain the pasta and drizzle over a little olive oil
- Stir the pasta into the sauce until it is all coated
- Serve with fresh herbs, vegan cheese and enjoy!
What does Butternut Mac and Cheese Taste Like?
Butternut squash mac & cheese is a unique twist on the traditional mac and cheese dish. The addition of butternut squash imparts a subtle sweetness and a creamy texture to the dish, while the combination of other ingredients helps create a savory and cheesy flavor profile. Here’s what you can generally expect in terms of taste:
- Creaminess: The butternut squash, when blended with the other ingredients, adds a velvety and creamy texture to the sauce. This creaminess is reminiscent of traditional mac and cheese.
- Sweetness: Butternut squash has a natural sweetness that comes through in the dish. This sweetness is balanced by the savory elements, such as nutritional yeast, garlic powder, and seasonings.
- Savory and Umami: The addition of nutritional yeast, Dijon mustard, and garlic powder provides a savory and umami-rich flavor similar to that of cheese. Nutritional yeast in particular is known for its ability to mimic the cheesy flavor commonly found in mac and cheese.
- Tanginess: The lemon juice and Dijon mustard contribute a tangy and slightly acidic note to the sauce, enhancing the overall flavor complexity.
- Comforting and Familiar: Despite the unique ingredients, butternut squash mac and cheese retains a comforting and familiar feel, making it a satisfying option for those who enjoy mac and cheese but are looking for a plant-based alternative.