This new vegan mac and cheese recipe has helped us replace our normal mac and cheese with a healthier version. Not only does this mac and cheese not have dairy, it also is made with butternut squash which gives it a a sweeter taste while adding some vitamin A. The nutritional yeast helps add B12 to the meal as well as make the sauce resemble that cheesy goodness we are so accustomed to with mac and cheese.
Vegan Mac and Cheese
In our quest to eat a more healthy diet, Elena and I tried out this new vegan mac and cheese recipe. We have always been fans of mac and cheese for as long as we have been together. We always gravitated to the box shells and cheese as a comfort food for us. This recipe hits all of those same buttons, but in a much healthier fashion. Between the butternut squash, cashews and nutritional yeast, we are able to include more of the important vitamins and minerals into dinner, while not having to give up on the creamy cheese delicacy that is mac and cheese.
Cooking the Butternut Squash and Preparing the Cashews
To begin this recipe you want to start with cooking the butternut squash since it will take the longest. Preheat your oven to 400º and wash your butternut squash. Take a peeler and peel the squash down to the point that you only see orange and can no longer see any skin. Cut the squash in half, remove the seeds and pulp and cut the squash into cubes so that it will cook a little faster in the oven. Evenly cover the cubed squash with 1 tbsp. of olive oil and place on a foil covered baking sheet. Before placing the squash into the oven, peal two cloves of garlic and add them to the baking sheet as well. The squash is now ready to enter the oven. Set the timer for 25 minutes and start on the noodles. To allow for the cashews to be added to the food processor later, they need to be softened. This can be done by taking one cup of cashews and submerging them in hot water, but not boiling, for at least 15 minutes.
Cooking the Noodles
We went with Banzi rotini for our noodles. To cook 16 oz. of rotini noodles, use a large stock pot and fill with water and a dash of salt. Bring the water to a boil and add the noodles. Constantly stir as Banzi rotini will create a good amount of foam as it cooks. If it foams to much, you may need to reduce the amount of heat until the foam reduces. The noodles should be finished after approximately 7 to 9 minutes depending on your preference of how well cooked you like your pasta. Before draining the noodles, save 1 cup of the water. Drain the noodles and set to the side.
Making the Sauce
The butternut squash should now be finished. You can tell when the butternut squash is finished when a fork will easily pierce the squash with little resistance. The cashews can also be drained at this time. In a food processor, combine the cooked butternut squash and garlic with the cashews and two cups of vegetable stock. Next add a 1/2 tsp. of ground pepper, 1 tsp. of smoked paprika, 1 tsp. of salt, 4 tbsp. of nutritional yeast, 1 tsp. of Dijon mustard, 1 tsp. of onion powder and finally 1 tsp of apple cider vinegar. Blend the mixture until you get a smooth consistency. If you are finding that the sauce is a little to thick, you can add some of the left over water from cooking the noodles.
All that is left to do is to mix the sauce with the noodles and serve! We decided to pair this dish with some steamed broccoli and meatless meat balls and topped our mac and cheese with some basil and red pepper flakes.