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A Healthier (Still Comforting) Vegan Mac n Cheese

by Lentine Alexis
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3.35/5 (40)
A Healthier (Still Comforting) Vegan Mac n Cheese

An ultra-creamy pasta dish is almost always a crowd favorite. This cheese and dairy-free, ultra-creamy pasta uses sweet roasted butternut squash and blended white beans to make this creamy sauce lower in carbs, higher in protein, fiber-filled, hearty and satisfying for your comfort food dreams. Feel free to substitute your favorite gluten-free or low-carb pasta, too.

Creamy Vegan Butternut Rigatoni 

Ingredients

  • 3 cups (1350g) butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed and cubed or 1 14-ounce can (414ml) butternut squash puree
  • 3 cups (340g) rigatoni pasta
  • 1 15-ounce can (425g) white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 4 tablespoons (55g) ghee or vegan butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (optional), to taste
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon dijon
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika, to taste
  • Juice of 1/2 small lemon (or 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar)
  • 2 cups (472ml) vegetable broth (can substitute water)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Optional Toppings For Baking

  • 1/2 cup (64g) panko or breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon ghee or olive oil

Directions 

Preheat the oven to 400°F (200ºC). Toss the cubed squash in a medium-sized bowl with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spread the butternut squash over it. Roast the squash in the oven for 30 minutes or until fork-tender. Lower the oven temperature to 350°F (180ºC).

While the squash roasts, cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain completely and set aside in the pasta pot.

Melt the ghee or butter and place it in the bowl of a blender or food processor fitted with the metal blade attachment, combine the butternut squash, drained and rinsed white beans, garlic, onion powder, smoked paprika, lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt and few grinds of fresh cracked pepper. Blend until thick and creamy and just a few chunks remain. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides, then return the lid. Next, with the motor running add the liquid in 1/2-cup (118ml) increments. You don’t want the sauce to be too thick; it will thicken as it sets. You also don’t want it to be too thin. The sauce is the right consistency when it clings to the rubber spatula without being clumpy.

Add the butternut squash sauce to the pasta in the pot and stir to combine. Transfer the sauced pasta to a baking or roasting pan.

Toss 1/2 cup of panko or breadcrumbs with 1 tablespoon of melted ghee or olive oil. Sprinkle the mixture over the top of the pasta, place in the preheated oven, uncovered, and bake for 15–20 minutes, or until the top turns golden.

Leftovers can be kept in the refrigerator for up to five days in a covered container. It’s also freezer-friendly and can be stored in freezer-safe containers for up to three months. Thaw before reheating.

Serves: 8 | Serving size: 3/4 cup

Nutrition (per serving): Calories: 417; Total Fat: 4g; Saturated Fat: 0g; Monounsaturated Fat: 0g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 202mg; Carbohydrate: 83g; Dietary Fiber: 17g; Sugar: 5g; Protein: 26g

Discover hundreds of healthy recipes — from high protein to low carb — via “Recipe Discovery” in the MyFitnessPal app.

About the Author

Lentine Alexis
Lentine is a curious, classically trained chef and former pro athlete. She uses her bicycle, raw life and travel experiences and organic ingredients to inspire athletes and everyone to explore, connect and expand their human experiences through food. She previously worked as a Chef/Recipe Developer/Content Creator and Culinary Director at Skratch Labs – a sports nutrition company dedicated to making real food alternatives to modern “energy foods.” Today, she writes, cooks, speaks and shares ideas for nourishing sport and life with whole, simple, delicious foods.

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