Vegan Mac N "Cheeze"

I love this smooth, creamy rich sauce to pour over pasta for a cheesy, comforting dish! The butternut squash really makes this look like cheese sauce, the cashews make it super creamy, and the nutritional yeast gives it the cheesy flavor. I've made this using Banza, a gluten-free pasta made from chickpeas (and its delicious)! But feel free to use your favorite pasta! Enjoy!

Ingredients:

- 1 package of Banza pasta (or your favorite pasta/alternative)

- 1/2 onion, diced

- 1 stalk of celery, diced

- 1 carrot, diced

- 1.5 cup cubed butternut squash, peeled (could also sub sweet potato)

- 1/2 cup cashews (key ingredient for creamy sauce!)

- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast

- 1/2 tsp sea salt

- 1/4 garlic powder

- Garnish: parsley, paprika

- optional breadcrumb topping (recipe below)

 

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Heat a dash of olive oil in a small pot. Add diced onion and cook 1-2 minutes.
  2. Add diced celery and carrots and cook for another 2-3 minutes. 
  3. Add butternut squash, cashews, and water- just enough to barely cover the butternut squash (approximately 2 cups) and bring to a boil. Salt the water with 1 tsp of salt.
  4. Cook for about 10 minutes, or until vegetables are tender and soft enough to blend. Cooking time will vary slightly, depending on the size of the vegetables. Test by piercing with a fork- the texture should be soft enough to go through very easily.
  5. Meanwhile, cook your pasta of choice according to it's instructions. Drain & set aside.
  6. Transfer veggie/cashew mixture to your blender along with the cooking water. (Should end up using approximately 3/4 cup of the cooking water, but adjust as needed).
  7. Add 2 tbsp nutritional yeast, 1/2 tsp salt & 1/4 tsp garlic powder to blender.
  8. Blend until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.
  9. Pour creamy sauce over cooked pasta.
  10. Garnish with chopped parsley, a sprinkle of paprika, or crispy breadcrumbs (optional).

Breadcrumb Topping:

Ingredients:

- Slice of bread

- olive oil

- garlic powder

- salt

- paprika

1. Roughly chop a slice of bread (of your choice- I used a gluten-free Food For Life bread) and place pieces in a food processor.

2. Pulse food processor until bread resembles crumbs.

3. Heat a bit of olive oil in a pan.

4. Add breadcrumbs, a dash of garlic powder, paprika, & salt.

5. Toss together and cook in olive oil until golden and crispy.

6. Sprinkle on Mac 'N Cheese for crunchy topping!