This Pasta with Creamy Vegan Butternut Squash Sauce is a lightened up fall comfort food. Blended cashews give the sauce an extra creamy texture, so there’s no need for dairy! This vegan sauce is a great way to use up leftover butternut squash and comes together quickly on busy weeknights.
If you’re looking for quick vegan dinner ideas, be sure to check out my Thai Pumpkin Curry!
Pasta with Creamy Vegan Butternut Squash Sauce
I’m so in love with fall flavours and this creamy butternut squash sauce does not disappoint. I developed this recipe when I had to find a way to use leftover butternut squash. I made spiralized butternut squash noodles (have you tried this yet? SO GOOD), but you can’t spiralize the end of the squash that has the seeds. I needed to find a way to use the ends!
My husband isn’t the biggest fan of squash (I think he’s crazy), but I suspected he might like a healthy, lightened up “cream” sauce. I love traditional cream sauces, but they don’t love me. I tend not to feel great after a big plate of pasta with a dairy-based sauce, so I used cashews to give the sauce a creamy texture (much like I did in my Potato and Chickpea Tikka Masala). This sauce has such a gorgeous texture – I don’t think you’ll miss the dairy!
Ingredients in Vegan Butternut Squash Sauce
For the sauce,
- Butternut squash – 2 cups mashed (see below for cooking method options)
- Vegetable broth
- Cashews – soaked and rinsed
- Nutritional yeast – optional, but recommended. It gives the sauce a slightly cheesy flavour and when combined with the cashews, mimics the use of dairy. Also a great source of vitamin B12!
- Sea salt – I start with a teaspoon, but add more to suit your taste!
- Ground sage
- Olive oil
- Yellow onion
- Black pepper
For the pasta, use one pound (454 g) of spaghetti or equal weight of your favourite type of noodle. Use a gluten free variety, if necessary.
How to make Pasta with Butternut Squash Sauce
1. Boil water for the pasta and cook pasta according to package directions.
2. Meanwhile, make the sauce. Add the butternut squash, broth, cashews, nutritional yeast, salt and sage to a high speed blender and blend until smooth and creamy.
3. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet or dutch oven. Sauté the onions until translucent, about 3-5 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to cook, stirring continuously for about 30 seconds, until fragrant. Reduce heat to medium/low and pour the sauce into the skillet. Simmer the sauce, stirring occasionally, until warmed through. Simmer an extra few minutes if you have time, to let the flavours develop more. Add salt and ground pepper to taste.
4. When the pasta is done cooking, drain it and add it to the skillet with the sauce. Gently stir until evenly coated (I like to use silicon kitchen tongs to grab and toss the noodles). Serve immediately.
Three Ways to Cook Butternut Squash
This recipe calls for cooked butternut squash, which allows this meal to come together in 30 minutes for a quick weeknight meal. If you are starting from uncooked butternut squash, or meal prepping to be ready for a weeknight meal, here are some ways to cook it.
For all the methods below, you need diced butternut squash. First, peel off the outer skin with a vegetable peeler, then carefully cut off both ends. Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Dice each half into 1-inch cubes.
Roasting is my favourite method to cook the squash, if I have time. Nothing beats the depth of flavour you get when the squash starts to caramelize.
- Preheat oven to 400 °F. Line baking tray with parchment paper (optional, but makes for easier clean up).
- Place diced squash on lined baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper and toss to ensure each piece is evenly coated.
- Roast for 40-50 minutes, or until the squash is easily pierced with a fork. Flip pieces halfway through cooking time to ensure even browning.
- Placed diced squash in a large sauce pan. Fill pan with water just until the squash is just submerged.
- Bring pan to a boil over high heat, then turn heat down to a rolling simmer and cook the squash for 7-10 minutes, or until the squash can be easily pierced with a fork.
This is my preferred method for cooking butternut squash quickly, if it’s going to be used mashed as an ingredient in another recipe (not so much if I’m eating it plain – that’s when I take the time to roast it!).
- Place diced squash into the Instant Pot insert. Add 1 cup of water and sprinkle with salt.
- Cook on High pressure for 4 minutes and quick release at the end of cooking time. Once pressure is released, carefully transfer the cooked squash to a large bowl and mash.
Other Weeknight Meal Ideas
- Quinoa & Chickpea Salad with Lemon Dill Dressing
- Vegetable Orzo with Chicken
- Instant Pot Lemon Asparagus Risotto
Pasta with Creamy Vegan Butternut Squash Sauce
- 1 lb uncooked spaghetti (use a gluten free variety, if necessary)
- 2 cups cooked butternut squash, mashed
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1/2 cup cashews (soaked and rinsed)
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (optional but recommended)
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground sage
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- black pepper (to taste)
- Boil water for the pasta and cook pasta according to package directions.
- Meanwhile, make the sauce. Add the cooked butternut squash, broth, cashews, nutritional yeast, salt and sage to a high speed blender and blend until smooth and creamy.
- Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet or dutch oven. Sauté the onions until translucent, about 3-5 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to cook, stirring continuously for another 30 seconds, until fragrant. Reduce heat to medium/low and pour the sauce into the skillet. Simmer the sauce, stirring occasionally, until warmed through. If you have time, simmer for a few minutes longer to let the flavours develop more. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- When the pasta is done cooking, drain it and add it to the skillet with the sauce. Gently stir until evenly coated (I like to use silicon kitchen tongs to grab and toss the noodles). Serve immediately.
- For this recipe to come together quickly, you need to start with cooked squash. I like to make extra when prepping another recipe that uses it (like soup, or spiralized noodles). You can save time by using the same ingredient in two recipes!