“Creamy” Butternut Mac with Herby Topping

A veggie-filled vegan mac and cheese
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Leah Vanderveldt is a wellness writer and recipe developer based in Brooklyn. She’s the author of two cookbooks, The New Nourishing and The New Porridge and the former Food Editor of mindbodygreen.com. She loves traveling, having friends over for dinner, doing tarot readings, and wandering around Prospect Park listening to podcasts. You can find her cooking up vegetable-centric meals and exploring wellness in ways that are affordable, fun, and a little woo-woo over on her blog, The Nourish Exchange.

Going dairy-free or trying to add more plants into your life doesn’t mean sacrificing cozy, comfort food faves — it just means getting more creative with it. This mac n' “cheese” uses butternut squash to create a thick sauce in a familiar orange hue along with almond milk for extra creaminess. Add in a few flavor enhancers like nutritional yeast + garlic powder and the optional herby almond topping for extra color and texture and this dish is transformed into a seriously satisfying plant-based meal.


  • 3 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash (or about ½ half medium butternut squash)
  • 1 cup water, plus more for boiling the pasta
  • 3 cups dry pasta — any small shape of your choice (I used chickpea pasta for a gluten- and grain-free version)
  • 1 medium crown of broccoli chopped into small florets
  • ½ cup Califia Farms Unsweetened Almondmilk
  • 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • Fresh lemon juice, to taste

Herby Almond Topping (optional)

  • ½ cup almonds, toasted
  • 3 tablespoons parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chives
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt, to taste



In a medium pot with a lid, combine chopped butternut, water + a generous pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Cover + reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 10-12 minutes until butternut is tender + easily pierced with a fork. Meanwhile, start to prepare pasta according to the package instructions. In the last 2 minutes of cooking, add the broccoli to boiling pasta water.

To make the Herby Almond Topping, combine the ingredients in a small food processor + pulse until all ingredients are chopped fine.

When the butternut is cooked through, remove from heat + either mash the butternut with a fork or immersion blender. When you’re close to a puree, add almond milk, nutritional yeast, garlic powder + onion powder. Continue to puree until smooth. Taste for seasoning. Add salt if needed, along with a spritz of fresh lemon juice. Once the pasta + broccoli are done cooking, drain and pour into the pot with sauce. Toss to coat the noodles in the sauce. Serve warm with Herby Almond Topping. Serves 4