For this plant-based recipe feature, we are highlighting nutritional yeast. This ingredient is well known to vegetarian and vegan folks due to its high level of vitamin B12. What many don’t realize is that it can also be a good source of protein. This will vary depending on the brand and whether it is large or small flake, so always be sure to check the labels of the products you are choosing. For example, Red Star boasts an impressive 8 grams of protein per 1 ½ Tbsp, while Bragg’s or Bob’s Red Mill has about 4g per 2 Tbsp. Nutritional yeast has a unique “umami” flavour which some find irresistible *ahem, I’m talking about myself* and many find to be similar to a sharp cheese. Today’s recipe is a play on Mac and cheese. I will not say that this recipe perfectly replicates a true Mac and cheese, however it is a unique and delicious alternative pasta dish.
For the sauce:
1 cup roasted butternut squash or pureed pumpkin/squash
1 Tbsp butter or a neutral cooking oil
¾ cup unsweetened and unflavoured milk or milk substitute
1 Tbsp cornstarch or potato starch
¼ cup nutritional yeast, or more to taste
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
¾ tsp garlic powder
¾ tsp onion powder
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, or more to taste
½ tsp salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
For the pasta:
Approx 8 oz or 1 cup macaroni or mini shell pasta of choice
Mix-ins of choice (e.g., extra cooked squash, kale, spinach, broccoli, peas, etc.)
Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Lightly spray or brush the oil onto the orange flesh of each squash half. Garnish with salt and pepper. Place the halves cut-side down on the baking sheet. Roast for about 35 to 50 minutes, uncovered, until a fork or knife easily slides through the squash.
When there are about 20 minutes left of the squash’s roasting time, cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain.
Into a blender, add the sauce ingredients (butter, milk, starch, nutritional yeast, Dijon, garlic and onion powder, lemon juice, salt, and pepper) along with approx. 1 cup of the roasted squash. Blend on high until smooth.
Add the cooked and drained pasta back into the pot and stir in all sauce. Option to add some of the remaining squash along with any other mix-ins you like at this point. Heat over medium and stir until thickened. Add more salt and pepper to taste if needed and serve immediately.
* For a quick and easy option, swap the roasted butternut squash for 1 cup of canned butternut squash or pumpkin purée. It works well and is great for time-crunched weeknight meals. Instead of roasting squash halves, you can save a bit of time by purchasing pre-chopped fresh squash, too.
- If you are using squash or pumpkin puree you can also skip the whole food processor step and just add all of the ingredients to a saucepan to create your sauce.
Approx Nutrition info for ½ of recipe: Calories 436 | Carbs 62g | Fibre 10g | Fat 15g | Protein 19g |