This Next-Level Vegan Mac n’ Cheeze will blow your mind! It is rich and creamy, packed with cheesy flavour and contains a bonus nutrition boost thanks to the pile of butternut squash that is pureed into the sauce.
SHOP THE POST
I recently created a recipe for Mac n’ Cheese using my Vitamix with butternut squash added to it as a way to ramp up the flavour and nutritional value of the dish. Our kids love mac and cheese . And it got me thinking about how I could make it vegan without compromising the taste since I know that not everyone who follows me eats dairy.
I wanted to use my Vitamix again (it worked so well the first time), but I knew that it couldn’t be a simple sub of the cheese for vegan cheese (which may work, but I wanted to get more creative) so I set to work to make a top notch Mac n’ cheese that Charles would enjoy. Because if he liked it I knew that it was a winner (he is a great cook so is a tough critic, isn’t the biggest mac and cheese fan and isn’t vegan).
Now, not to toot my own horn, but THIS recipe is one that I’m rather proud of! I was sitting there staring at my pot of cooked squash trying to think of what I could add to this to make it more flavourful (nutritional yeast is amazing but it has it’s limits), and as luck would have it a lonely onion was sitting on my counter with no place to go. Actually, it was supposed to be for a soup I was gearing up to make before I got side-tracked with this pasta. But I digress (again).
Caramelized onions!!!! That’s IT! Cried my inside voice. And my Ukrainian inside voice chimed in “why not add garlic”? Ok guys, let’s add both I replied. If you think I’m losing my mind you may be right, I spend a lot of time in the kitchen alone staring at my pantry trying to figure things out.
Cashew cream is a life saver for this dish (and many vegan dishes): it’s a breeze to make, I keep a sac of raw cashews on hand at all times! The caramelized onions turned out to be a game changer in this dish – and since I get asked about the non-stick pans that I use ALL the time, here they are if you are in the market for some new ones!
You can substitute regular bread crumbs for Panko (Japanese bread crumbs), it just will be a little less crunchy. Also, if you are vegan make sure that you purchase FORTIFIED nutritional yeast as your staple which contains extra B vitamins, notably vitamin B12 which is only found in animal products and is necessary for supporting our neurological health through myelin synthesis, aids in the production of red blood cells, and is involved in DNA synthesis and the metabolism of fat and protein.
Note that this is still a rich dish regardless of the fact that it is vegan (I personally don’t shy away from fat in my diet for the record). If you’re looking for more vegan comfort food, try this Creamy Garlicky Kale Mushroom Pasta, this Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Tomato Soup, or this Baked Mushroom Herb Polenta.
As always I would love to hear if you make this in the comments below!
Next Level Vegan Mac n' Cheeze
This Mac n' Cheese has zero taste compromise and rivals any good ol' Mac n' Cheese I've ever tasted! Loaded with butternut squash and caramelized onions, the flavour is off the charts and is so much more nutritious than the regular version! Note you will need a high powered blender like a Vitamix to make this.
- 3/4 cup panko
- 2 tablespoon melted vegan butter or olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon dry oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small onion, cut into thin slices
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed
- 3 cups cubed peeled butternut squash, cut into 1/2" pieces
- 1 1/4 cups cashew cream (see notes)
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1/4 cup vegan butter
- salt and pepper to taste
- 8 oz. tortiglioni or macaroni pasta (3 cups)
MAKE THE CRUMB TOPPING
Combine all of the crumb topping ingredients in a small bowl and mix together to combine. Set aside.
MAKE THE PASTA
Prepare the cashew cream as per the notes.
Add the oil to a small saucepan on low heat and add the onions and garlic cloves. Cook, stirring, until the onions are golden brown and soft, about 13-15 minutes. Set aside.
Cook the butternut squash in a pot of simmering water until soft. Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain in a colander and return to the pot when done.
While the pasta is cooking, add the cooked squash, cashew cream, nutritional yeast, flour, vegan butter, cooked onion and garlic mixture to the Vitamix blender. Blend, starting on low and gradually increasing to level 10, for 3 minutes until the mixture is hot and smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste (blend to combine).
Preheat the oven to broil.
Add the pasta sauce to the pasta, stir to combine, and transfer to an 8x8 baking dish. Sprinkle with the crumb mixture and broil until the crumbs are golden brown. Serve immediately.
Note: I make a batch of cashew cream once a week and use it in cooking for dishes like this. For this recipe simply soak 3/4 cup of raw cashews in boiling water for 20 minutes, drain, and add them (unblended) to the Vitamix container along with 3/4 cup of water and the squash and other ingredients as per the instructions. They will blend up to a smooth consistency in the sauce!