Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Butternut Squash Mac ‘n Cheeze

IMG 2422 thumb   Butternut Squash Mac ‘n CheezeOver the past couple years, I’ve made many different vegan cheeze sauce recipes. The initial ones weren’t what I would consider spectacular, but with trial and error I’ve made recipes that not only satisfy my cravings, but make me crave the new recipes instead of actually craving cheese itself.
As a former cheese addict, this is big.
Last year, I fell in love with cashew-based vegan cheeze sauces. When you blend or process cashews with nutritional yeast, herbs, spices, and almond milk, you get this thick and creamy vegan cheeze sauce that can be added to macaroni, casseroles, spread onto sandwiches, and more.
I especially love making this cashew-based Butternut Squash Mac ‘n Cheeze:

see more after the cut...

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This below, is my favourite Cashew-Based Vegan Cheeze Sauce (without the squash).
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Lately, my focus has shifted to sauces that I can make without cashews.
The cashew-based sauces are delicious, but they can be quite heavy. I’ve been working on sauces that can be thrown together in just a few minutes on the stove top.
My first attempt was my 5-Ingredient Cheeze Sauce. Just almond milk, Earth Balance, flour, nutritional yeast, and S & P.
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Some of you asked for a version that didn’t have as much fat in it. This recipe has 4 tablespoons of Earth Balance, but I knew that I could make it much healthier and lighter with a little work!
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This weekend was cold, wet, and gloomy, and it was the perfect weekend to make some comfort food. I decided to make a lighter Butternut Squash Mac ‘n Cheeze.
But of course, I wasn’t so sure if it would work. I figured there was a good chance I’d be eating bad mac ‘n cheese for a week straight while Eric ate cereal for dinner.
But it’s always good to hang onto a glimmer of hope.
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I roasted a Butternut Squash, but if you want to save time you can always used canned squash as an option.
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How to Roast Butternut Squash

Preheat the oven to 425F. Start by slicing your squash in half (try not to slice your finger off like I almost did). I used a 3.5 pound squash for this recipe, but you only need 1 cup of cooked squash for the sauce (I had 4 cups of squash leftover, fyi). Scoop out the seeds & guts with a spoon.
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Peel the two halves and chop off the top and bottom.
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Slice into 1-2 inch chunks.
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Add the chunks into a large casserole dish or roasting pan. Drizzle on extra virgin olive oil and mix well with your hands. Now sprinkle on a hearty dose of Herbamare or kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.
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Roast, uncovered, for about 40 minutes at 425F or until tender.
Again, you can skip this roasting step and use canned squash if you are crunched for time.
Meanwhile, prepare the cheeze sauce on the stove top by whisking together Earth Balance (I cut the fat by 75%!), unflavoured almond milk, nutritional yeast, arrowroot powder (or cornstarch or flour), Dijon, garlic powder, S & P.
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If you roasted your squash, blend 1 cup of squash with the cheeze sauce in a blender. If you are using canned squash, you can just stir the squash directly into the pot.
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The outcome was incredible. Thick, with a believable cheese flavour.
Best of all, it’s quite low in fat, full of nutrients, and easy to make.
Finger. licking. good.
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The sauce makes enough for 4 servings of Macaroni (I used brown rice elbow macaroni).
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Mix it up and add in your desired mix-ins. I used kale (help me!), but you can use spinach, peas, broccoli, or any vegetable that tickles your fancy.
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I stirred in a bit of leftover roasted squash too.
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This recipe is definitely “in the vault”, as we like to say.
Eric was crazy for this mac ‘n cheeze and he’s a big cheese lover so I take that as a compliment. Brownie points earned.
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