When I committed to a vegan diet, cheese was one of the hardest things to give up. While I never ate it that frequently, I did enjoy it now and then on things like pizza and in mac ‘n’ cheese. Little did I know that giving up cheese didn’t have to be that difficult after all!
After I had been a vegan for a year, I discovered the secret of making vegan cheese sauces. Not only are they delicious and healthy, but they let me enjoy my favourite comfort foods once again. With a lot of trial and error, I’ve made vegan “cheeze” sauce recipes that not only satisfy my longings, but make me crave the new recipes instead of the old ones.
For this butternut squash mac ‘n’ cheeze sauce, I simply heated some non-dairy buttery spread (Earth Balance is great), almond milk, arrowroot powder, nutritional yeast, Dijon mustard, garlic powder, kosher salt, and pepper on the stove-top until it became thick and creamy. Then I transferred this mixture into a blender (you can also use a food processor or an immersion blender) and blended some cooked butternut squash with the sauce. The outcome was the best vegan cheese sauce I’ve made, and it has received rave reviews from hundreds of my readers (and their husbands and kids!) on my blog.
Whether you are vegan, have a dairy allergy or intolerance, or just want a healthier option for mac ‘n’ cheese, I hope you enjoy this sauce as much as we do! It’s a great way to sneak in vegetables, too. You can also try out my pumpkin mac ‘n’ cheeze sauce as a fun variation — and a great way to use up canned pumpkin!
Vegan butternut squash mac ‘n’ cheeze (gluten-free and nut-free options)
Husband approved. Kid approved. Cook approved. Vegan approved. Omnivore approved. I’d say it’s a hit!
Yield: 4 servings or 1.5 cups of cheeze sauce
1 fresh butternut squash* (peeled and chopped) OR 1 cup canned butternut squash OR canned pumpkin
Extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp Earth Balance (or other non-dairy butter replacer)
3/4 cup unsweetened & unflavoured almond milk (revised from 1 cup)
1 tbsp arrowroot powder (or cornstarch)
6 tbsp nutritional yeast, or more to taste
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2-3/4 tsp kosher salt (or to taste) & ground black pepper, to taste
4 servings brown rice macaroni (8oz or half a 16oz package) makes 3 1/4 cup cooked
Mix-ins of choice (e.g., kale, spinach, broccoli, peas, pumpkin seeds, etc.)
1. Preheat oven to 425F. Line a casserole dish with tin foil. Mix chopped squash with extra-virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast for about 40 minutes, uncovered, or until tender.
2. Meanwhile, prepare the cheeze sauce in a pot on the stove top. Add Earth Balance over low-medium heat. In a bowl, whisk together milk and arrowroot powder (or cornstarch or flour) until clumps are gone. Add into pot and whisk. Stir in remaining ingredients (nutritional yeast, Dijon, garlic, salt and pepper) and whisk over low heat until thickened (about 5-7 minutes).
3. Cook your pasta according to package directions. The sauce makes enough to cover four servings of pasta.
4. In a blender, blend the sauce with 1 cup of roasted squash (or if using canned, simply stir 1 cup into the pot).
5. Add cooked, drained, and rinsed macaroni into pot, along with cheeze sauce & mix-ins. Heat and serve.
Note: My 3.5 pound squash made 5 cups cooked squash, so I had about 4 cups leftover. Try using the leftover squash in this delicious soup recipe.
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Angela Liddon is the creator of Oh She Glows, a popular healthy vegan recipe website receiving over 1.6 million page views a month, and one of Chatelaine‘s Women of the Year 2011. Angela’s passion for healthy vegan food is contagious and she’s eager to show others that vegan (and often gluten-free) food can blow your taste buds away.