This casserole is comfort food heaven. Sweet, creamy butternut squash is paired with decadently cheesy macaroni elbows and sealed with a unique flatbread topping. The finishing touches really put it over the top, from the smoky shiitake bacon to the red pepper flakes and maple syrup. Normally, we'd say this casserole is perfect to make for a week of easy meals, but we know this one will only last a few days.
Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese Casserole [Vegan]
For the Pasta:
- 1 5-ounce pack of crackers
- 2 1/2 cups cubed butternut squash
- 1 14-ounce box elbow macaroni
- 1 cup plain almond milk
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 2-3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 1 tablespoon rosemary plus more for garnish
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 cup vegan Parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/2 of 1 onion
- 1/4 cup cashews
- 2 garlic cloves, grated
For the Shiitake Bacon:
- Shiitake mushrooms, sliced
- 1 tablespoon tamari
- 1 tablespoon liquid smoke
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 tablespoon vegan Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- First, make the Shiitake bacon. Slice the mushrooms, coat in all the ingredients (and leave coated for as long as possible), and place in the oven at 250°F for 30 minutes. Rotate the mushrooms at the halfway point for an even cook. Mushrooms should be crispy, not hard.
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Place cubed squash on a baking pan and cook for about 15-20 minutes or until fork-tender.
- Remove from heat and cool slightly, then transfer to a blender or food processor and blend until completely smooth. Add the almond milk to assist with puréeing.
- Soak the cashews in hot water for ten minutes, drain, and add to the blender with the butternut squash along with the nutmeg, nutritional yeast, sea salt, cayenne, and Dijon mustard.
- Boil pasta in a pot of salted water until al dente. Drain and set aside. To make the topping, put the package of crackers in a plastic bag, smash for 3 minutes until you get crumbs of all sizes, and set aside.
- Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat, then add the onion, garlic, rosemary, and a pinch of salt. Cook, occasionally stirring, until onions are soft, about 5 minutes.
- Stir in the flour and cook for 3 minutes, then stir in the 1/2 cup almond milk and cook until just starting to thicken about 3 minutes. Take the sauce off the heat, then stir in the 1/2 cup vegan parmesan cheese until fully incorporated. Add butternut squash mixture stirring to combine. Season to taste with kosher salt.
- Combine the full mixture with the cooked pasta. Add the pasta to a baking dish and top with vegan Parmesan cheese, the flatbread crumbs, shiitake bacon, and chopped fresh rosemary and bake for about 20 minutes.
- Slice and serve.
- Butternut Squash