I love macaroni and cheese but I don't love the fat and calories that come along with it. A few weeks ago one of my friends was telling me about a vegan mac and cheese recipe she made using butternut squash and cashews. She said it had a good consistency and actually tasted pretty good.
I went searching for the recipe because I thought it sounded interesting. The one I found was a vegan recipe using the squash, cashews, some spices, and pasta water to make the sauce. I was really concerned how the cashews would be in the sauce. I thought that it might make it grainy and not very good.
As I was making the sauce I liked that the butternut squash turned the sauce the color of a cheese sauce so it actually looks like cheese. The consistency surprisingly wasn't too bad. The cashews get ground up and aren't too grainy. I added in some spices along with some mustard to give it a little more flavor.
I ended up serving the sauce two different ways. The first way was as the recipe is written and then I sprinkled some Parmesan cheese on top of the dish. The cheese is totally optional and obviously would turn the dish vegetarian instead of vegan. The other way was to add a half cup of cheese to the sauce and then pour it over the macaroni.
The vegan sauce is good. It's not fooling anyone into thinking it's a cheese sauce but it has good flavor and I'm sure it's a great vegan substitute. My only problem with it is that it was a little sweeter then I would have liked from the butternut squash. When I added the cheese it seemed to be not as sweet and I enjoyed it a lot.
Either way this is a delicious macaroni and cheese recipe. It also has a lot less fat and calories using the squash and cashews instead of cheese. I was most surprised that the consistency was similiar to that of a cheese sauce. I would definitely make this as a meal when people who eat vegan come over for dinner.
- 1½ c. butternut squash, peeled and chopped
- ½ onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves
- 16 oz. macaroni
- ¼ c. reserved pasta water
- ¼ c. raw cashews, soaked in water
- 1 T. lemon juice
- 1 t. salt
- 1 t. black pepper
- 1 t. Dijon mustard
- ½ t. garlic powder
- ½ t. paprika
- ½ t. nutmeg
- ½ c. cheddar cheese, shredded (optional)
- Place the squash, onion, and garlic in a large pot of water over high heat. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 15 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
- Meanwhile, cook the macaroni according to the package directions. Drain, reserving ¼ cup of pasta water.
- Place the butternut squash, onion, garlic, cashews, lemon juice, salt, pepper, Dijon, garlic powder, paprika, and nutmeg in a food processor. Process until completely smooth.
- Add in the reserved pasta water and blend until a sauce has formed. If using the cheese add it in now and blend until smooth.
- Pour the sauce over top of the cooked macaroni noodles. Mix to coat the noodles and serve hot.
- bottom of the blender.
- Add butternut squash sauce to the macaroni noodles and stir, making sure every noodle is covered in sauce. Warm through if needed.