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Creamy Vegan Pumpkin Mac and Cheese

Creamy Vegan Pumpkin Mac and Cheese

Nisha Vora
The BEST vegan mac and cheese you’ll ever taste! Made with wholesome ingredients like roasted pumpkin and cashews, but super creamy and indulgent, this Creamy Vegan Pumpkin Mac and Cheese is vegan comfort food at its finest.
4.94 from 29 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
55 mins
Course Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine American
Servings 4 to 6 people

Ingredients
  

  • 1 small sugar pumpkin (aka “pie pumpkin”), or 1 small butternut squash (about 2 1/2 pounds or 1 kg)*
  • Olive oil or avocado oil, for roasting
  • 1/2 cup (~60g) raw cashews, soaked in cool water overnight or for 1 hour in boiling water**
  • 1/2 cup (40g) nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard powder (optional but adds a nice sharp tangy flavor)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (can substitute ground, but the flavor is much better with fresh)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt + more to taste
  • Freshly cracked black pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon mellow white or yellow miso paste
  • 1 tablespoon tapioca flour or cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup (240mL) canned “lite” coconut milk***
  • 10 ounces (280g) of rigatoni pasta, medium-sized macaroni shells, or pasta of your choice

Instructions
 

  • To cook the pumpkin or butternut squash in the oven, use a very sharp knife to slice the pumpkin or butternut squash in half, then scoop out the seeds and stringy bits using a spoon. If the vegetable is too thick or hard to cut, pop it in the microwave for 60-90 seconds to soften. For roasting, follow step 2; for steaming, follow step 3.
  • To roast the pumpkin or butternut squash in the oven, preheat the oven to 425°F (or 218°C). Drizzle the pumpkin or squash halves with a bit of olive oil or avocado and season with salt and pepper. Place the halves, flesh side down, on a parchment paper-lined or aluminum foil-lined baking sheet. Roast in the preheated oven for 30-40 minutes until completely tender and lightly browned (pumpkin should take about 30 minutes; butternut squash closer to 40 minutes). Once the pumpkin or squash is cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh and discard the skin.
  • To steam the pumpkin or butternut squash in an Instant Pot or pressure cooker, pour 1 cup of water into the inner cooking pot and lower a compatible steamer rack or the trivet that comes with the Instant Pot into the inner pot. Place the pumpkin or squash halves in the basket or on top of the trivet, close the lid, and pressure cook at high pressure for 12-14 minutes. Once the timer is up, perform a quick pressure release by manually releasing the steam valve. Once the pumpkin or squash is cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh and discard the skin.
  • While the squash is cooking, bring a large saucepan of water to a boil and salt generously. Cook the pasta according to the box directions until al dente and drain in a colander.
  • Measure out 1 1/2 cups of the roasted or steamed pumpkin or butternut squash flesh. Reserve the rest for another use, such as a curry, soup, or side dish.
  • In a high-powered blender, add the 1 1/2 cups of the pumpkin or squash flesh. Add in the soaked and drained cashews, nutritional yeast, mustard powder, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, nutmeg, 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, black pepper to taste, miso paste, tapioca flour or cornstarch, lemon juice, and lite coconut milk. Blend until the sauce is completely smooth and creamy, about 1-2 minutes. Taste for seasonings and adjust accordingly, adding more salt as needed, more miso paste for more umami, or more lemon juice for more acidity.
  • Return the cooked and drained pasta back to the saucepan and add the cheese sauce. Heat over medium heat until the sauce is well combined with the pasta and warmed through. Season the mac and cheese to taste.

Notes

* While I recommend roasting the pumpkin for the best flavor results, if you are using canned pumpkin, you’ll need 1 1/2 cups puree (which is slightly less than one 15-ounce can).
** If you don’t have a high-powered blender, I recommend soaking the cashews overnight.
*** You can also make “lite” coconut milk by mixing 2 parts water with 1 part of canned full-fat coconut milk, then measuring out 1 cup (240 mL) of the mixture.
Keyword gluten-free, macaroni and cheese, pasta, pumpkin, vegan cheese
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