When there’s no Mac, then go with Spag! This super creamy Vegan Butternut Squash Pasta dish takes your spaghetti game to a new level!
At times were you can’t necessarily find everything you need in stores (thanks to Corona), I’ve learned once again how important it is to get creative in the kitchen – and also to stay flexible with my recipe choices. Pasta after all was one of the first items UK supermarkets ran out of, so I felt for this dish I just needed to make do with whatever I had available. Luckily there was still some spaghetti in the pantry, so ‘Spag’n’Cheese’ aka Vegan Butternut Squash Pasta was born.
I’ve made roasted butternut squash pasta (mostly mac’n’cheese) already a couple of times already in the past few years and it’s a well loved pasta dish in our home. However, due to some odd reason – unknown to myself – I’ve never actually photographed it or even written down the recipe before. And as life’s irony is playing: Of course I finally get around to it, when there was no macaroni left in any stores, ha!
Anyways, this recipe was just as delicious with spaghetti as it is with macaroni, so I really hope you’ll get to re-create this flavoursome, creamy dish yourself with whatever pasta your pantry has to offer!
What you’ll need
Roasted Butternut Squash
The roasted squash adds a wonderful smokey & rich flavour to your vegan butternut squash pasta! Use fresh or frozen, cubed squash, gently roast it in the oven with a little oil alongside your onion and garlic & salt/pepper and then blitz it up with the rest of your sauce ingredients!
I’ve used organic spaghetti on this occasion, but you can simply use your favourite type of pasta, or whatever kind you have access to at the time. Macaroni, Fusilli and Conchiglie are wonderful with this roasted butternut squash as well! And if you’re gluten-free, simply combine with your favourite vegan & gluten free pasta.
Onion & garlic
Add a wonderful depth of flavour to this dish! I used red onion for it’s delicious sweetness upon roasting and I like to roast the onion and garlic alongside the butternut squash. If you don’t have fresh onion and garlic to hand, you can also use garlic and onion powder, however instead of roasting these, just blend them up with the rest of the ingredients in a later step.
Nutritional yeast is what adds the wonderful cheesy flavour to this meal! It’s a key ingredient and if you haven’t tried it yet, I strongly recommend giving it a go! If you’ve however run out, you can add a little cheesy-ness to the dish with white miso paste instead.
Lemon juice & pickle brine
The lemon juice and brine. both serve multiple purposes in this dish: they both add a great acidity and depth of flavour, but they also help curdle the plant milk in the recipe, resulting in a thicker, creamier sauce.
If you want your sauce to be deliciously gooey, tapioca flour is a must! It is activated by heat, hence why we heat the sauce on the stove top before serving. Don’t worry if you don’t have tapioca to hand: You can add a little cornflour to thicken your pasta sauce, but it won’t be as gooey!
Adding some natural fats & creaminess to your sauce! If you have a high-speed blender, there’s no need to pre-soak them – you can simply blend a little longer to get them smoothly combined. If you’re blender can’t handle nuts, simply boil them in water for 20 minutes to soften. You can also use 1-2 Tbsp of cashew butter to replace the cashew nuts in this recipes.
Giving volume to your sauce! The addition of acidity with lemon & pickle brine ensures the plant milk remains thicker whilst giving your sauce some wonderful volume.
More umami flavour! But the tomato sauce also gives your dish the wonderful colour, so don’t leave it out if you have some to hand!
- High-speed blender
- Oven & roasting tin
- large saucepan
How to make Vegan Butternut Squash Pasta
Roasting the squash
The first step in creating this deliciously creamy dish is to roast your butternut squash. You can use both fresh and frozen butternut squash on this occasion. Simply cut half of a medium size squash into cubes, drizzle with a little oil and salt/pepper, add in your garlic and onion and roast it in your oven until soft and golden.
Alternatively you can also roast your squash in a different device, such as a NinjaFoodi, which is what I have opted for when creating this recipe – it makes the roasting process a little quicker. However oven is absolutely fine too!
Preparing your pasta
Once the squash is roasted, prepare your pasta according to the packaging instructions. I’ve used Mr Organic Spaghetti on this occasion and cooked it al dente in salted water.
Blitz up the sauce
Whilst your pasta is on the stove, chuck the roasted butternut squash into your blender alongside the remainder of the sauce ingredients. Blend on high-speed for 1-2 minutes or until perfectly smooth. To activate the gooey-ness of the tapioca further, transfer the sauce into a large saucepan and heat over medium heat.
Combining the pasta & sauce
Once your pasta is cooked, drain and add it into the saucepan with your sauce. Take it off the heat and gently stir to combine everything. Serve with fried tempeh (like I did, so delicious!), fresh salad, crispy smokey chickpeas or vegan bacon pieces.
Variations for this recipe
- Pasta: I’ve tried out this recipe with a variety of pasta types already and have to say it’s been delicious every time. My favourites are probably. the type of pasta that hold sauce especially well, such as fusilli and conchiglie.
- Squash: Both squash and pumpkin work really well for this recipe, however I find that butternut squash is a perfect fit as it brings in a subtle natural sweetness and umami flavour into the sauce.
- Pickle Brine: if you don’t have any pickles waiting in your pantry, you can also use the brine of a jar of capers.
- Lemon or vinegar: no lemons? No problem! simply use 1 Tbsp of apple cider vinegar instead.
- Tapioca Flour: the tapioca flour gives the sauce a more gooey texture! If you don’t have any tapioca to hand, add a little cornflour instead to thicken your sauce, however this will not create the gooey-ness that tapioca does.
- Nutritional Yeast: nutritional yeast is what adds the wonderful cheesy flavour to this meal! It’s a key ingredient and if you haven’t tried it yet, I strongly recommend giving it a go! If you’ve however run out, you can add a little cheesy-ness to the dish with white miso paste instead.
This recipe is:
- 100% vegan
- gluten free option (simply use your favourite gf pasta)
- egg free
- dairy free
- full of umami!
- deliciously creamy
- wonderful with any type of pasta
- great for lunch & dinner
- oh whatever, even breakfast if you want 😀
- 200g spaghetti (or other pasta)
For the sauce:
- 1/2 Butternut squash, cubed
- 3 garlic cloves, whole
- 1 small red onion, roughly chopped
- a little olive oil for roasting
- a sprinkle of salt & pepper
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 3 Tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1 Tbsp tapioca flour (optional)
- a handful of cashew nuts
- 400–450ml plant milk (I used soy)
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 3 Tbsp pickle brine
- 1 Tbsp tomato paste
- fried tempeh (optional)
- Start by roasting the butternut squash: Simply cut your squash into cubes and add to a roasting tin alongside the garlic and chopped onion, drizzle with a little oil and salt/pepper and roast it in your oven at 200C until soft and golden (20-30 minutes).
- Once the squash is roasted, prepare your pasta according to the packaging instructions.
- Whilst your pasta is cooking, add the roasted squash into your blender alongside the remainder of the sauce ingredients. Blend on high-speed for 1-2 minutes or until perfectly smooth.
- Transfer the sauce into a large saucepan and heat over medium heat. Once your pasta is cooked, drain and add it into the saucepan with your sauce. Take it off the heat and gently stir to combine.
- Serve with fried tempeh, fresh salad, crispy smokey chickpeas or vegan bacon pieces.
Keywords: vegan mac and cheese, vegan mac & cheese, vegan mac and cheese sauce, vegan butternut squash mac and cheese
Check out my other vegan pasta recipes, if you’re a fan!