When people start getting all pumpkin crazy (circa October every year), I sneak over to the squash bin and buy up all the butternuts. I think roasted butternut squash makes just about everything better (soup, pizza, pasta, pie…I could go on). Roasting the squash makes it sweet and addictive.
This simple baked macaroni and cheese is a great dish for a holiday dinner party. Pair it with some lemon-garlic kale (recipe at the bottom of this post) and you have a delicious (somewhat healthy) fall twist on Southern comfort food.
Butternut Squash Mac n’ Cheese
serves four as a dinner portion
takes about 40 minutes to make (including baking time)
- 8 ounces of dry pasta (I used brown rice mini shells)
For the cheese sauce:
- ¾ cup raw, unsalted cashews
- ¾ cup unsweetened, unflavored almond milk
- 1 cup of roasted butternut squash (click to see how)
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast
- 2 T Earth Balance
- ½ lemon, juiced
- 2 cloves of garlic (or more if you love garlic)
- 1 t sweet white miso (optional)
- 2 t Dijon mustard
- pinch of cayenne
- pinch of nutmeg
- 4 fresh sage leaves
- ½ t salt
- black pepper to taste
For the breadcrumb topping:
- 2 slices of stale bread, toasted (I used Rudi’s gluten free to keep the whole dish gluten free)
- 1 t Earth Balance
- 5 fresh sage leaves
- dash of salt
- dash of pepper
- Preheat your oven to 325
- Lightly oil a small glass casserole dish, my little Pyrex is about 8 x 6, but an 8 x 8 square is perfect. (Note: you can easily double the amount of pasta, cooking a pound, and use a larger casserole, 9 x 13, as the cheese sauce recipe makes enough to cover a pound of pasta – you will just also need to double the bread crumb recipe so have enough to coat the top).
- Put a large pot of water on to boil and cook your pasta per the package instructions.
While your pasta cooks (my brown rice pasta takes 14 minutes), you have time to get the sauce and breadcrumbs made: this dish comes together fast, which is one of the reasons I love it!
- If you have a high-speed blender (like a VitaMix) just throw every single thing in and blend on high for about 90 seconds, until smooth and creamy.
- If you don’t have a high-speed blender, but do have a spice grinder or a Magic Bullet, you can powder the cashews first. Then blend everything together for three or four minutes.
- If you have only a blender or food processor, just soak the cashews in water for at least 30 minutes (preferably a few hours) before making the sauce, and then drain off all of the water and blend them with the other ingredients.
- Toast your bread.
- Tear it up and place it, the Earth Balance, the sage leaves, and salt and pepper into a food processor and pulse them about a dozen times until crumbly.
Put it Together
- Finally, drain your pasta
- Gently toss with 1 cup of cheese sauce (the recipe will make 2 cups, just save the other cup in the fridge and eat it later with a spoon)
- Put it all in your casserole dish
- Top with the breadcrumbs
- Bake it, uncovered, at 325 for 20 to 25 minutes until the bread crumbs are fragrant and crispy!
And to serve on the side:
Lemon Garlic Kale
- 1 large bunch of kale (I like Lacinato because I don’t feel like I have to de-stem it)
- 1 t Earth Balance
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- ½ lemon, juiced
- salt and pepper to taste
- While your pasta bake is in the oven, wash and chop all of the kale.
- Heat 1 t of Earth Balance in a large, heavy bottomed pot over medium high heat.
- Add in the minced garlic (I like four cloves, but adjust to your taste), and stir for one minute until you can smell the garlic (but don’t let it brown).
- Toss the chopped kale into the pot, cook for three minutes until bright green and starting to wilt.
- Take off the heat & add the juice of half a lemon and some salt and pepper to taste.