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Mac ‘n Peas with Creamy Butternut Squash Sauce

Laura Theodore
  • Serves: 6
  • Preparation: 10
  • Cooking: 40
  • Passive: 60
  • Ready: 110

A healthy plant-based version of Mac and Cheese, with butternut squash and cashews creating a super velvety sauce.


  • 3¾ cups butternut squash, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 2 small cloves garlic, chopped
  • ⅓ cup raw cashews
  • ½ cup plus 1½ tablespoons filtered or spring water, plus more as needed
  • ¾ teaspoon sea salt, plus more as needed
  • 1 pound whole-wheat or whole-grain fusilli, elbow or chiocciole pasta
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • ¼ teaspoon dry mustard powder
  • ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 18 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 18 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste


Fit a steamer basket into a medium-sized saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Add 2 to 3 inches of cold water to the pot and then add the butternut squash and garlic. Cover and bring to a boil. Steam the butternut squash and garlic until very tender, about 20 minutes. Let the butternut squash and garlic cool for about 20 minutes (see note).

Meanwhile, put the cashews and ½ cup water in a small bowl. Let soak for 30 to 40 minutes. Drain the soaking water from the cashews and thoroughly rinse the cashews under clean, cold running water.

Once the butternut squash and garlic have cooled, bring a large pot of water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add ¼ teaspoon salt (optional). Stir in the pasta. Decrease the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is almost tender. Add the peas and cook, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is tender but firm and the peas are heated through, about 3 minutes. Drain the pasta and peas.

While the pasta and peas cook, put the cooled butternut squash and garlic, cashews, 1½ tablespoons of cold water, mustard powder, smoked paprika, ½ teaspoon salt, cayenne pepper and turmeric into a blender and process until the consistency of a thick, smooth sauce. Add more water 1 tablespoon at a time, as needed, to achieve the desired consistency.

Transfer the sauce to a medium-sized pan and cook over medium-low heat, just until heated through, stirring often and adding more water as needed if the sauce is too thick.

Put the pasta and peas in a large bowl. Immediately pour the warm sauce over the pasta and gently stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve hot.

Chef’s note: The butternut squash and garlic may be steamed in advance of preparing this recipe. After steaming, cool and store tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.

Additonal notes

Recipe taken from Laura Theodore’s Vegan-Ease. Reproduced by kind permission of Laura Theodore. Visit Laura on Facebook and follow her on Twitter for daily recipes and tips for serving delicious, plant-based meals.

Image by Annie Oliverio

“Craving the comforting, creamy texture and smooth taste of mac and cheese? This innovative recipe fills the bill when you’re seeking a warm and hearty replacement for that dairy-laden version. Peas add color and pop, while the butternut squash and cashews create a super velvety sauce.”


Amount per serving, based on 6 servings:

310 calories
3 g fat
0 g saturated fat
12 g protein
4 mg sodium
63 g total carbohydrate
11 g sugars
5 g fibre

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