It was a rollercoaster of a week.
On Friday, I shipped my huge bundle of book edits back to New York. A definite high point this year. Strangely, I enjoyed the meticulous process of sifting through each chapter line by line. By the time I finished almost every page was scribbled with red ink and I squeezed in a few photo re-shoots too. I lived and breathed that document day and night, as you might have guessed from my blog absence. After a few curse words at the Staples print & copy centre (never underestimate how many times a multi-thousand dollar printer will jam…), I even printed my own copy should anything happen to the one in the mail. You will not get me this time, postal service!
Naturally, I went straight to the grocery store and bought some cheesy kale chips and a dark chocolate bar to celebrate. Living. it. up.
If that wasn’t exciting enough, we found the house of our dreams last week. We’ve been looking for almost a year now. It almost felt too good to be true and I barely slept all week. This house has everything on our list with several renovation projects for us to tackle in the future. Everything felt like it was falling into place after a challenging year. We’ve been dealing with some rental issues lately and we’re just ready to move on and settle down. Plant roots. Build another vegetable garden. Storage space! This house was the one, we were certain. I’m a bit superstitious, so I didn’t even tell my family about it because I didn’t want to jinx it.
We lost the house. It was scooped up by a higher bidder. Nothing new in this hot housing market, but it’s still tough to swallow when you get your heart set on something. We had already spent a few days planning and preparing ourselves for a quick move, taking measurements, dreaming, the whole shebang, and then it was all over just like that. I went from cloud nine to feeling rejected and defeated all within a few hours. Back to square one.
I tried to cheer us up by playing the “let’s list all the things we don’t like about the house” game. A solid effort, but we weren’t fooling anybody. Love is blind.
This dish, on the other hand, was just what we needed – a hug in a bowl, and a reminder that time heals all wounds. So what if I burned the broccoli to a crisp and overcooked the pasta. It was still major comfort food when nothing else seemed to help. Plus, I discovered that over-cooked crispy broccoli tastes a lot like kale chips. Yes, I ate every one straight off the pan. Weird, but good.
In the end, I realized that nothing good ever comes out of a full moon eclipse, especially if you happen to be pms-ing. Unless of course this meal is the end result. Then it’s not a total loss.
Onward and upward, keep the faith, may better things come to those who wait, and all that cliché jazz… :)
Smoky Butternut Squash Sauce with Pasta and Greens
This recipe is adapted from my Butternut Squash Mac and Cheeze recipe from 2011. While the former version is a huge hit on the blog, some of you didn't like how sweet the sauce is. I've been playing around with this recipe every time I make it. This version I'm sharing today is still quite sweet thanks to the butternut squash and cashews, but I've tried to balance it out better with some smoky seasonings like liquid smoke, chili powder, smoked paprika, and some hot sauce for a kick and more depth of flavour. It's a big hit in this house. Feel free to adjust the various seasonings to taste. This sauce is also great heated up and poured over roasted vegetables and brown rice. Use it any way you see fit! I think you'll be surprised by how creamy and satisfying it is all without a lick of butter or oil.
- 1/4 cup raw cashews, soaked
- 1 (3.5-4 pound) butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and diced (or two (450g) packages chopped squash)
- 3/4 cup water
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (optional, but recommended)
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt, or to taste
- 1/8 teaspoon liquid smoke
- hot sauce, to taste
- 1 (450g) package mini shell or macaroni pasta (use gluten-free, if desired)
- roasted broccoli or sauteed kale leaves, to stir into pasta
- Add cashews in a small bowl and cover with water. Soak overnight or for at least 3-4 hours, until soft and plump. Drain and rinse before use.
- Preheat oven to 425F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. See note about prepping squash below. Spread out chopped squash on sheet and drizzle with oil. Toss to coat. Sprinkle with salt. Roast for 30-40 minutes, flipping once half way through baking, until squash is fork tender. Let cool for at least 5 minutes.
- Add the soaked and drained cashews, water, garlic, nutritional yeast (if using), lemon juice, onion powder, paprika, chili powder, and 2 cups of cooked squash into a high speed blender. Blend on high until smooth. Now add the salt, liquid smoke, and hot sauce to taste and blend again.
- Cook pasta according to package directions. If using broccoli, kale, or other vegetables, roast or saute those too.
- Add the drained pasta back into the pot. Pour on your desired amount of sauce and stir to combine. Stir in the cooked vegetables, if using. Cook over medium until heated throughout and serve immediately.
- Leftover sauce can be stored in an air-tight container for up to 1 week or so in the fridge. It's great poured on roasted vegetables too!
Time saver: You can also simply slice the squash in half, remove seeds, and roast the two halves rather than chopping the squash up. The butternut squash sauce makes 2.75 cups.
Nutrition Information(click to expand)
Some of you mentioned that the Recipage feature has not been working lately. I’m so sorry for the inconvenience. Apparently, Recipage did a big server migration last week and some kinks are still being worked out. I encourage you to use the recipe drop-down category menu at the top of the blog or the search bar on the right hand side. I do realize that this doesn’t help for the few recipes that were only uploaded into Recipage though. Hopefully, all will be well soon. :) Sometime in the future we will be creating our own in-house recipe search page, most likely after Eric has completed the new app. Thanks for your patience!
EEEKKKKKKKKK!!!! I just blended this sauce together! WTF did I do to deserve such wonderful flavors in my life!! Truly the best! Thanks lady! :D
i’m wondering- can I freeze extra sauce? How long is its fridge life? I want to make a double (or triple!) batch to satisfy my child, my vegan self, and my single mother life!!! What do you think?
This sounds yummy! I’m going to make it tomorrow. I had a question re: the cashew based cheese. The recipe calls for 1/4 cup cashews – is that correct? It seems too small of an amount. Was it meant to be 1 & 1/4 cup?
sorry for the late reply – yes that is correct :) Hope you enjoy!
LOVE LOVE LOVE this …. Question I am in Australia is there any subsitute for the smokey sauce as I think its very hard to find here! xxxx
Amazon sells several brands of liquid smoke. I don’t think there’s a substitute for it. Liquid smoke is in a category of it’s own! LOL! It also puts this recipe “over-the-top”! Absolutely fabulous!
Holy mother of god why did I wait so long to try this?! Just made the sauce and I’m eating it out ta the blender like a damn savory smoothie! Can’t wait to toss it on some pasta tonight with some broccoli!!!! You are awesome!!!
I did the same thing! I had to slap my hand and tell myself NO! :D
OMG this is fantastic! I used a hand blender so the sauce was not as smooth as yours, but it tasted amazzzzzing! Thank you for this.
This looks wonderful! Have you ever frozen the butternut squash sauce for later use in recipes? Wondering how it would hold up. Thanks!
My husband and I are eating this now. We used kale for the greens. And this is too delicious for words. To me, this is how mac and cheese always should have tasted. Love it! We will most certainly be making this again!
OMFG! that’s exactly what I yelled out when I tasted this sauce. When I saw that there was liquid smoke in it, I was skeptical.
I made the transition from carnivore to herbivore a week and a half of go and I’ll be the first to admit that I LOVE meat and especially meat cooked with liquid smoke.
I tried the recipe anyway, making no substitution except for using spinach, no hot sauce, and half the amount of chili powder (I find that recipes calling for chili powder call for too much for my taste) and HOLY MOLY I am in LOVE! Pretty sure this would please ANYONE! Looking forward to baking the leftovers tomorrow with extra sauce and a bit of bread crumb topping. Thank you!
I every time spent my half an hour to read this web site’s posts every
day along with a cup of coffee.
This was amazing. I’ve never commented on a recipe before but just had to with this one. My boyfriend who isn’t vegan absolutely loved in and went back for seconds and thirds! Thanks Angela.
great recipe and I’m so excited to try this but do you think i can replace the onion powder with onions? and what will be the conversion?
This recipe is simply amazing. My 14-month daughter absolutely adores this pasta. She definitely has my tastebuds since she previously disliked regular macaroni and cheese (Annie’s brand). I love that she enjoys it as much as me because it’s healthy, easy to make, and can be made in large quantities. Thanks for sharing!
Made the recipe this evening and it was fabulous – thanks very much for posting the recipe. Will definitely be making again!!
Hi there! I featured this recipe in my fall recipe round up post today at http://physicalkitchness.com/healthy-paleo-fall-recipes/
Thank you for the inspiration!
This sauce was heavenly! I wasn’t planning on having it for dinner tonight, but I figured I could make the sauce in advance and roast the veggies/cook the pasta tomorrow. Honestly, I don’t know if I’ll have much left by then as I’ve already eaten quite a few (huge) spoonfuls of it haha. I love that it doesn’t have any oil in it, and yet it’s still very smooth and rich. Wonderful recipe!
I just made the sauce again, and I can honestly say, this has become one of my favorite recipes. It was actually even better than last time! I didn’t add the hot sauce before but did now so I guess that’s what it was? Anyway, it was BEYOND fantastic and so hard not to pour it in a bowl and enjoy it as soup haha. Thank you for this amazing recipe!
This recipe is delicious! I just had to go & mess with it, though (not a fan of pasta), so I used spiralized zucchini instead. Super nummy :)
AWESOME. I made this even more delectable and used gnocchi. I also didn’t think ahead and forgot to soak the cashews so used Tahini. Still loved it and it will even better with the cashews next time! My 5 year old daughter loved it too. (I sprinkled Parmesan on hers)
This sounds delicious! I want to try this for dinner tonight but don’t have any liquid smoke – is it necessary or can I just omit?
Delicious. Even with a can of squash purée and garlic powder instead of fresh. Soooo good!
Made this today – delicious!!! My husband (who is still an omnivore:( thought it was tasty:)
Um, water anyone? I even reduced the water and the recipe came out as thin as water…the pictures make it look all creamy.
Hi Angela! I’m planning on making this for a Xmas eve party but I’m working day of so was wondering if you have any suggestions for making it in advance? Or baked?
I have made this many times since you posted it, I LOVE it! The sauce is so thick and rich and creamy and flavorful, thank you!
This is so SO SOOOO good! great! fabulous! I like it better than traditional mac & cheese :)
And your cookbook has become my kitchen’s go-to on a daily basis. Thank you!
This is so delicious. I was skeptical but loved it. Loved. It. Sweet and smoky. Yum! Thank you for all of the delicious recipes. Every one I have tried has been awesome!
This is very good – I have had liquid smoke in my pantry for ages and finally got to use it. I was also a little skeptical regarding the nutritional yeast but this dish is delicious. Will be a regular in our house now I need to make dairy-free dinners.
So glad it was a hit, Jo! (And that you finally got to break out that liquid smoke! ;) )
This was so good! I didn’t have all the ingredients so subbed chipotle for the liquid smoke (amazing addition by the way) and sautéed onions for onion powder. I also pulsed fresh rocket into the sauce, which made it like a creamy pesto – YES. Skipped the hot sauce as the chipotle added plenty of heat. I also used about 3/4 cup of soaked cashews, so it was super creamy. Will definitely be making this again – thinking about a sweet potato version for next time :)
Thanks for sharing those modifications, Caitlin! Sounds like a delish twist for sure :)
Couldn’t find any Butternut Squash at the market, so picked up Acorn Squash – still tasted delish! First time cooking with liquid smoke – two big thumbs up! This was devoured in my house!
Glad it was a success, Alexandra!
You have never let me down! I was searching the net for a recipe like this, and found it here. I should have come here first! I love love love every recipe of yours we have tried. Your book is my most used recipe book. Thank you again for a fabulous recipe!
Aw, you’re too sweet, Teri! Thanks so much for the lovely comment. :) I’m glad you found what you’re looking for!
Hi! I was just wondering how well this sauce would freeze? thanks :)
Hey Celine, I haven’t tried freezing this sauce before, so I’m not sure! Maybe try freezing a little bit to test it out? If you decide to experiment, I’d love it if you’d report back and let us know how it goes.
I just tried this for lunch and OMG, it’s perfect! It was very good! I decided to replace the water with some smoked ale and it was delicious, my favorite vegan m&c so far! Thank you!
Hello – looks so delicious!! You should build a company and sell these pre-packaged!!!
I love the color of your sauce so much! Do you think that spaghetti squash can be used instead of pasta in this recipe?
Hey Lita, I don’t see why not! If you’re worried about squash overload, though, you could also try zucchini noodles as another veggie noodle option.
I made a variation on this with a kuri squash as that’s all they had in and it was blissful! I’d definitely recommend switching to kuri to anyone who finds this too sweet!
Oh I love this idea to change it up and cut the sweetness a bit. Thanks for sharing!
This is SOOOOOOO GOOOOOOOD. I’ve made it several times and just love it. Thanks!
Hey Stacey, I’m so glad you love it so much! Thanks for letting me know.
Has anyone added sausage (or another meat) to this recipe? Not vegan, just dairy free over here and considering adding in. Thanks!
Loved this recipe!!!! The hubby is on a low FODMAP diet at the moment so we made a few adjustments: pine nuts for the cashews, garlic infused olive oil, and dropped the garlic and onion. Still delicious and creamy.
I’m so glad those adjustments worked out so well Jenn! Thanks for sharing :)
Want to make this ahead of time as I’ve been vegan for a half-year now and about to have grandkids here….no time for any elaborate cooking. Scanned all the comments but still wonder if I can freeze as it’s a few weeks off….
This is by far my favorite of your recipes that I’ve tried. I haven’t made it in a few years because my blender was awful but finally got a Vitamix this week and knew this had to be the first I made it in. A world of difference with a creamy smooth sauce instead of chunks.
I added some Beyond Meat sausage and it was so good.