Squash and Cheddar Mac and Cheese
I don’t usually make pasta but I’ve been seriously craving the comfort of a good mac and cheese that I can actually eat by the boatload. Maybe it’s the gloomy weather or the stress of having our house sold and not knowing yet where we’re moving to in just over a month. Eeeek!!! This recipe is not totally dairy free but it is reduced. Let’s be honest. A mac and cheese cannot be a mac and cheese without the cheese. I’ve tried a few of the recipes out there for cheese-less mac and cheese and they’re AWFUL. Anyone who says that vegan mac and cheese is delicious, is completely lying or has no tastebuds. Yes, I’ve tried it with nutritional yeast which mimics the taste of cheese and all the other tricks. I did my research to make it the best possible that it could be. It was still a big fat fail. The night that I made a vegan mac and cheese (from a recipe that had super high ratings and favorable reviews), my family set their forks down and went to get pizza, and I don’t blame them. Mac and cheese just cannot be without cheese.
However, it IS possible to have a delicious and creamy mac and cheese that is made without liquid dairy and can be gluten free as well if you choose. Why cheese but not liquid dairy like cream or milk? Many of us with dairy sensitivities can often tolerate aged or fermented dairy much better than soft (or liquid) dairy as the lactose is nearly or completely gone. Plus, aged cheeses like a nice sharp cheddar have enzymes and cultures in them so they are not as likely to cause issues.
The creaminess of this squash and cheddar mac and cheese comes from, you guessed it, squash! I’ve used the basic ingredients of squash and cheddar cheese fondue and converted it into a creamy mac and cheese sauce. It starts with a roasted squash like acorn or butternut which also will help give the mac and cheese a bit of color. Add to that a béchamel made with unsweetened coconut milk or almond milk, mix in some shredded sharp cheddar cheese and you’ve got the perfect ooey, gooey, creamy mac and cheese with an extra nutritional punch! I used smoked salt when I made this recipe for a slightly smoky flavor. This cheese sauce is also simply divine poured over lightly sautéed broccoli. Next up, I’ll need to master a baked mac and cheese with a crunchy crust 🙂
- 12 oz package noodles of any kind
- 1 cup cooked and pureed squash (butternut or acorn work well)
- 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cups unsweetened coconut milk (I used the kind in the carton this time since it's less coconut flavored - or use any other non-dairy milk)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup butter
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- ⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper
- Cook noodles according to their directions to al dente.
- Combine all other ingredients in a saucepan and heat while whisking until hot and bubbly.
- Drain noodles once they are cooked and place in a large bowl.
- Pour cheese sauce over noodles and stir to combine.