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4.87 from 15 votes

Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

Kids and adults alike will swoon for this Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese! The sauce is so creamy and smooth with no dairy at all. Gluten free option.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 6 large servings
Calories: 390kcal
Author: Nora Taylor

Ingredients

  • 1 pound diced butternut squash (about 4 cups chopped)*
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 16 ounces pasta of choice, I used little shells
  • Optional, for serving: thawed frozen peas, cooked kale, or roasted broccoli

Instructions

Cook the Butternut Squash

  • If using a fresh whole squash, peel and cut the squash into cubes. Measure about 4 cups (1 pound).
  • To cook in an Instant Pot: Add the squash and 2-3 cups of water, to cover, to your Instant Pot and cook on high pressure for 8 minutes. Carefully release the pressure and drain the squash.
  • To cook on the stovetop: Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then add the butternut squash cubes. Simmer for about 10-12 minutes, until the squash is fork tender. Drain.

Make the pasta

  • Cook the pasta according to package instructions, being careful not to overcook. Drain and add the noodles back to the pot.

Make the butternut squash cheese

  • In a high powered blender, add the cooked butternut squash along with the cashews, 2 cups of water, cornstarch, nutritional yeast, dijon, garlic powder, onion powder, lemon juice and salt. Blend until very smooth.
  • Add the cheese sauce to the pot with the cooked noodles. Stir constantly over low-medium heat for a minute or two until the sauce thickens a bit. Serve immediately.

Notes

  1. Nutritional information will vary greatly on the kind of pasta you use and what vegetable you add. I did my calculations using white pasta noodles and no added vegetables.
  2. You can also use canned butternut squash puree, or replace it with pumpkin! You will need 16 ounces (1 can) to replace the fresh squash.
  3. The butternut squash cashew cheese sauce freezes well. To freeze, pour into a container, leaving an inch or so of space to allow for expansion. Reheat on the stove or in the microwave. I wouldn't recommend freezing it with the pasta though, it gets soggy.
  4. Gluten Free: Use gluten free pasta.
  5. Cashew allergy? Substitute slivered raw almonds, or for a nut free option use 1/2 cup of full fat coconut milk for 1/2 cup of the water called for, and leave the nuts out entirely. 
  6. Vegetables to stir in: I love adding some Instant Pot Kale, roasted/steamed broccoli or simply thawed frozen green peas (a favorite with the kids).
  7. Make this easier by purchasing pre-chopped butternut squash! I find it at Costco and many other grocery stores. 
  8. If you don't have a Vitamix, you may want to soak the cashews in boiling hot water for 5 minutes before blending.

Nutrition

Calories: 390kcal | Carbohydrates: 70g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 622mg | Potassium: 477mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 4960IU | Vitamin C: 11mg | Calcium: 45mg | Iron: 2mg