Mac and Butternut Squash Cheeze (Dairy-free)
Since I was a kid, mac and cheese has been one of my favorite meals, so naturally I had to create a healthy version. Butternut squash and cashews create the creamy base for this sauce, while the nutritional yeast and other ingredients give it the “cheesey” flavor. It’s important you soak the cashews, especially if you aren’t using a high speed blender. If you don’t have the time to soak the cashews for hours, a short cut is to bring a small pot with water and cashews to a boil then cover and remove from heat and let cashews soak for 15 minutes. Also, I suggest using Banza pasta which is made of chickpeas, or a pasta made from lentils, or beans for the added protein. Zucchini noodles are another great option if you are looking for a lower carb choice. This sauce keeps well in the fridge for a couple days!
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours and 20 minutes
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1/4 cup chopped yellow onion
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1/8 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 1/2 cups peeled and chopped butternut squash
- 1/2 cup cashews
- 1/2 cup almond milk
- 1 tbs organic Dijon mustard
- 1 tbs Frank's red hot sauce
- 2 tbs liquid from jarred mild banana pepper rings
- 1/3 cup nutritional yeast
- Dash of black pepper
- 1 box of pasta of choice (I prefer Banza)
- Optional: few drops of liquid smoke
- Optional additional ingredients: spinach, broccoli, tomato
- Place raw cashews in a cup or small bowl and cover with water. Let the cashews soak in water for at least 2 hours. Once done soaking, drain water and set cashews aside.
- Peel and chop the butternut squash. I typically buy my butternut squash already prepared for me as it can be a chore to peel and chop yourself! Chop the onion, then peel three garlic cloves and dice them.
- In a pot, steam the peeled and chopped butternut squash. Once the butternut squash is cooked through (can stab with a fork), drain all water and add the squash to a high speed blender. A regular blender will work as well, but high speed is preferred to get that extra smooth consistency.
- Using a separate pot, cook pasta according to box directions. My favorite pasta is Banza, which is made of chickpeas, but you can use any kind of pasta you like. If you are looking for a low-carb option, try zucchini noodles.
- While the pasta is cooking, heat olive oil in a frying pan for 1 minute then add chopped onion, garlic, and smoked paprika to the pan and saute for 2-3 minutes until the onion becomes translucent and the paprika is fragrant. Once the onion and garlic mixture is done, remove from heat, and add to a high speed blender.
- Then add the rest of the ingredients to the blender (including the soaked cashews). Turn on blender and start low and increase to higher speed, blend for 30 seconds on highest setting, until the sauce is creamy and smooth. Once the pasta is done cooking, mix in the sauce with the pasta.
- Optional step- add in steamed veggies such as broccoli or spinach, and enjoy!