This vegan butternut squash mac and cheese adds all the comfort of the real thing with an added boost of nutrition and an extra vibrant color.
The creamy vegan sauce is made from roasted butternut squash blended with garlic, olive oil, cashews, nutritional yeast, and seasonings. Lightly cooked spinach is tossed in with the pasta for a boost of nutrition and color, and the dish is finished with a crispy breadcrumb topping. Leafy greens and squash support a healthy immune system with their mix of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytonutrients.
macaroni and "cheese"
- 2 tablespoons tablespoons Sun Harvest extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 large yellow onion, diced
- 1/3 cup First Street unsalted cashews
- 1 1/2 cups cooked butternut squash, cubed
- 1 1/2 cups First Street unsweetened almond milk
- 1 teaspoon Sun Harvest yellow mustard
- 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
- 5 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce or tamari
- 2 teaspoons First Street onion powder
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pound Sun Harvest dry elbow macaroni
- 6 cups Sun Harvest fresh spinach (or First Street frozen spinach, thawed)
- 2 tablespoons Sun Harvest extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 cup First Street panko bread crumbs
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Sun Harvest and First Street are private label brands available at Smart & Final grocery & warehouse stores.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.
Heat a skillet over medium heat, once hot; add the olive oil, onion, and garlic and cook, stirring, until the onions are soft and tender, about 8 minutes.
Remove from heat and transfer to a high-powered blender. To the blender, add the cashews, cooked squash, almond milk, mustard, nutritional yeast, soy sauce, onion powder, salt and pepper. Blend the squash mixture on high until very creamy and smooth, about 2 minutes, scraping the sides as needed. Set aside.
Make the panko topping: Return to the same skillet and add the olive oil over medium-high heat. Stir in the panko crumbs, salt, and pepper, and toast until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Set aside.
Cook the pasta according to package instructions until al dente. (Reserve 1½ to 2 cups pasta cooking water.) Drain the pasta and set aside.
To the same pot used to cook the pasta, stir in the creamy butternut squash sauce and cook until the sauce is hot, about 5 to 6 minutes. Add the cooked pasta with 1 cup of the reserved pasta water and mix with sauce. Fold in the spinach and adjust for seasonings. (Hint: The sauce and pasta will thicken significantly as it sits; if desired, stir in more of the remaining reserved pasta water to loosen.)
Top with the toasted breadcrumbs and serve immediately.