This creamy, high fiber and carotenoid rich mac and cheez is delicious and swoon worthy. I created this recipe while trying to find a comparable mac and cheez to the ooey gooey boxed kind I grew up with. Little did I know that blue boxed mac and cheese was laden with food dyes, sodium, and preservatives. The older, adult me is much more aware of what goes into my body. However, that doesn’t change the fact that I still miss the general flavor. Not to mention the ease of preparation!
This is take one of my attempts to find that kid friendly recipe. While this recipe is fantastic, it is certainly more of an adult mac and cheez with hints of rich cashew flavor. Yet, I will say, it still remains smooth and mild thanks to the roasted butternut squash addition. I also took it a step further and baked it, adding some crunchy toasted panko crumbs on top to take it to the next level of textured bliss.
This mac and cheez can be made richer by using more cashews or made milder by using more butternut squash. It really is your taste buds’ desicion!
My mac and cheez is perfect to take to a potluck or bake a big dish for leftovers throughout the week. It is pretty to look at and tastes like a dream!
- Box of whole grain penne (or any pasts of choice, really)
- 1 large butternut squash, peeled, scooped, and diced
- 1 C of soaked cashews
- 1 ½ C of vegetable broth
- 1 C of almond milk (or other dairy free milk)
- ½ C of nutritional yeast
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp pepper
- 1 C panko crumbs
- 4 tbs olive oil
- Soak cashews overnight (or 8 hours). Drain and place into a blender.
- Turn oven to 375 degrees. Place butternut squash onto a cookie sheet. Drizzle with a 1-2 tbs olive oil. Sprinkle a little salt and pepper onto the squash. Place in oven and roast for about 30 minutes until fork tender. Pull out of oven and let cool for several minutes.
- Bump oven down to 350 degrees.
- While squash is cooling, cook your pasta and set aside.
- Add vegetable broth, almond milk, nutritional yeast, ¼ tsp salt, and ¼ pepper to blender that has the cashews already in it. Add the butternut squash when cool enough to handle. Blend until a rich smooth consistency forms. Taste. If needs more salt and/or pepper then add now.
- Place a skillet on the stove with 2 tbs olive oil. Once hot, add panko crumbs and toast until turn lightly brown. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, mix the pasta and about ¾ of the blender of butternut squash mixture. Should be very saucey (is that even a word??). This is alright because the pasta continues to absorb the sauce in the oven and you do not want it to be too dry upon serving. Set the remaining ¼ butternut squash mixture to the side.
- Add the mixed pasta and sauce to a large casserole dish. Top with toasted panko crumbs.
- Place casserole dish in 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes or until dish is heated through. Let cool for a few minutes and serve immediately.
- My leftover pasta lacked as much creaminess as the first time I had it, so I used the remaining ¼ butternut mixture on top to give me that desired creaminess again.