The baked crunchy top with the creamy and rich flavor of this Vegan Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese is healthy delicious goodness! Velvety butternut squash, blended with cashews and a medley of savory seasonings, creates a luscious, dairy-free cheese sauce that coats al dente macaroni. Topped with a golden breadcrumb crust, this dish bakes to perfection. Who knew comfort food could be so healthy and delicious?
Serve it up as a hearty weeknight dinner or as a crowd-pleasing addition to special gatherings, and savor the rich flavors of cozy, creamy, and delicious comfort food reimagined with a plant-based twist.
Toppings and Add-ins:
- Herbs: Freshly chopped herbs like parsley, chives, or basil can add a burst of freshness and color to your dish.
- Toasted Nuts or Seeds: Toasted pine nuts, almonds, or pumpkin seeds can provide a delightful crunch and nutty flavor.
- Extra Vegan Cheese: If you’re a fan of vegan cheese, you can sprinkle some grated vegan cheese on top before baking for an extra cheesy finish.
- Crispy Onions or Shallots: Crispy fried onions or shallots can add a delicious and savory crunch.
- Sautéed Greens: Stir in sautéed spinach, kale, or Swiss chard for a nutritional boost and a pop of color.
- Roasted Vegetables: Roasted cherry tomatoes, red bell peppers, or broccoli florets can add depth and a hint of smokiness.
- Vegan Bacon Bits: Vegan bacon bits or tempeh bacon can provide a smoky, savory element.
- Diced Roasted Red Peppers: Roasted red peppers add sweetness and a tangy flavor that pairs well with the creamy sauce.
- Caramelized Onions: Sautéed or caramelized onions can bring a delightful sweetness and depth of flavor.
- Chili Flakes: If you enjoy a bit of heat, sprinkle some chili flakes for a spicy kick.
Feel free to mix and match these toppings and add-ins to create a personalized and flavorful vegan mac and cheese that suits your taste preferences. Experimenting with different combinations can make this dish even more exciting and tailored to your liking.
What Herbs Pair Well with Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese?
Several herbs pair beautifully with vegan Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese, enhancing its flavor and adding a delightful aromatic touch. Here are some herbs that go well with this dish:
- Fresh Parsley: Chopped fresh parsley adds a bright and fresh flavor that complements the creaminess of the sauce.
- Chives: Finely chopped chives bring a mild onion-like flavor and a pop of green color to your mac and cheese.
- Basil: Fresh basil leaves can infuse the dish with a hint of sweet and slightly peppery notes, lending a Mediterranean twist.
- Thyme: Fresh thyme leaves or even a pinch of dried thyme can add earthiness and depth to the dish.
- Rosemary: A small amount of finely chopped fresh rosemary or a sprinkle of dried rosemary can provide a fragrant, woody aroma.
- Sage: Sage leaves, either fresh or crisped up in a little olive oil, can offer a savory, slightly earthy flavor.
- Tarragon: Tarragon’s mild anise-like flavor can be a unique addition to your mac and cheese.
Choose one or a combination of these herbs based on your personal taste preferences, and don’t forget to garnish your Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese with them just before serving to maximize their freshness and aroma.
More Delicious Mac and Cheese Recipes:
Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese
For the sauce:
- 2 cups cubed butternut squash (fresh or frozen)
- 1 cup unsweetened almond milk (or any plant-based milk)
- ½ cup raw cashews (soaked for a few hours or boiled for 10 minutes)
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard (optional)
- salt and pepper to taste
For the macaroni:
- 12 ounces (about 3 cups) elbow macaroni or your favorite pasta (use gluten-free pasta for a gluten-free option)
- ½ cup breadcrumbs (use gluten-free breadcrumbs if needed)
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- Cook the macaroni according to the package instructions until al dente. Drain and set aside. (Do not overcook)
- If using fresh butternut squash, peel, and cube it. Steam or boil the cubed butternut squash until it's fork-tender, then drain.
- In a blender, combine the cooked butternut squash, almond milk, soaked cashews, nutritional yeast, olive oil, minced garlic, onion powder, Dijon mustard (if using), salt, and pepper. Blend until smooth and creamy. Adjust the seasoning to taste.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked macaroni and the butternut squash sauce. Stir until the macaroni is evenly coated with the sauce.
- In a small bowl, mix the breadcrumbs, nutritional yeast, olive oil, salt, and pepper to create a breadcrumb topping.
- Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C).
- Transfer the mac and cheese mixture to a greased baking dish.Sprinkle the breadcrumb topping evenly over the mac and cheese.
- Bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the mac and cheese is heated through.
- Remove from the oven, let it cool for a few minutes, and optionally garnish with fresh parsley or chives.Serve your vegan Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese hot and enjoy!