This simple and comforting vegan casserole will remind you of macaroni and cheese. There’s no cheese here, just a delectable combo of smooth butternut squash, nutritional yeast, and silken tofu. The crowning touch is plenty of roasted butternut dice to top it off. To make this, pre-bake the butternut squash until the wide part with the seeds can be easily pierced, and the narrow part can be pierced with some resistance. For some tips, see How to Cut a Butternut Squash Without Losing Your Mind. Photos by Evan Atlas.
Creamy Pasta and Butternut Squash Casserole
- 10 to 12 ounces pasta twists such as rotelle or rotini
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion finely chopped
- 1 medium butternut squash pre-baked (see headnote above)
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast
- 12.3- ounce package firm or extra-firm silken tofu
- ½ cup plain unsweetened nondairy milk
- ½ teaspoon paprika plus more for topping
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- ½ cup fine bread crumbs or ¼ cup wheat germ for topping
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley for topping optional
- Cook the pasta according to package directions, then drain and transfer to a large mixing bowl.
- Heat the oven to 400º F.
- Heat half of the oil in a medium skillet. Add the onion cook until golden. Transfer to a food processor or blender, leaving about ½ cup’s worth aside for topping.
- Meanwhile, cut the pre-baked squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and fibers and discard.
- Scoop out the soft part of the squash and add to the food processor or blender along with the onions. Where the squash starts to become firmer, peel and cut into ½- to ¾-inch dice.
- To the squash and onion mixture in the food processor or blender, add the nutritional yeast, tofu, nondairy milk and paprika. Process until completely smooth.
- Combine the pureed mixture with the pasta in the mixing bowl and stir until thoroughly combined. Season with salt and pepper, then stir again.
- Transfer the mixture to a large (about 9 by 12) lightly oiled casserole dish.
- Top evenly with the bread crumbs or wheat germ, reserved onions, and squash dice. Sprinkle with a little more paprika.
- Bake for 30 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and crusty. Sprinkle with a little parsley, if you'd like. Let stand for a few minutes, then serve.