Smoky Butternut Squash Pasta with Kale

I'm definitely not used to the gloomy weather we've been having. With the days getting shorter and the clouds all gray, I've been craving comfort food. I saw this recipe and thought that it would be a tasty fall pasta dish. However, what I got was my new replacement for macaroni and cheese. The Mr. loves homemade macaroni and cheese but with my milk allergy, I've been trying to limit the dairy I consume. So, eating a bowl of cheese isn't the smartest thing for me to do. However, I can eat this without the guilt or allergy side effects. and still feel like I'm splurging on a not-so-healthy dish. I cannot believe how amazing it is. The Mr. and I polished the entire thing in one sitting. Don't judge.

When I went shopping for the ingredients I was unsuccessful in finding raw cashews at my usual grocery store. Then later that week I popped into another local store to get a specific brand of salsa for the Mr. and they had raw cashews. I had forgotten how much I needed and walked out with about a cup and half of raw cashews not realizing I only needed a quarter of a cup. Whoops. However, I looked it up online and you can store raw cashews in an airtight bag/container for up to one year in a cool and dark place. So if you have to purchase them in a large quantity, have no fear, they will last a while. I also cheated on the recipe a little bit. I really didn't want to have to clean and roast a squash. So I went over to the freezer isle of my grocery store and bought a 12 oz bag of frozen butternut squash*. When I was ready to make the sauce I put the whole bag in a microwave safe bowl and heated it up, then followed the remaining directions for the recipe. I also used gluten-free pasta. I saw it at the store and decided to give it a try. It tastes just like normal pasta and held up really well. So if you are looking for a gluten-free dish, use gluten-free pasta. Oh and one other thing, you don't have to use yeast in the recipe but it really adds to the dish. The yeast not only adds flavor but it also thickens the sauce into more of a creamy consistency.

Recipe adapted from Oh She Glows

  • 1/4 c. raw cashews, soaked 
  • 1 (3.5-4 pound) butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and diced (need 2 c. cooked squash for the recipe. *See notes above for a quicker option) 
  • 3/4 c. water 
  • 2 garlic cloves 
  • 2 Tbs nutritional yeast (optional, but highly recommended) 
  • 1 Tbs fresh lemon juice 
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder 
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika 
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder 
  • 1 tsp fine grain sea salt, or to taste 
  • 1/8 tsp liquid smoke 
  • hot sauce, to taste 
  • 1 lb mini shell or macaroni pasta (use gluten-free, if desired) 
  • 5 c. chopped kale

  1. Add cashews in a small bowl and cover with water. Soak overnight or for at least 3-4 hours, until soft and plump. Drain and rinse before use. 
  2. *If roasting your own squash* Preheat oven to 425F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. See note about prepping squash below. Spread out chopped squash on sheet and drizzle with oil. Toss to coat. Sprinkle with salt. Roast for 30-40 minutes, flipping once half way through baking, until squash is fork tender. Let cool for at least 5 minutes. 
  3. Add the soaked and drained cashews, water, garlic, nutritional yeast (if using), lemon juice, onion powder, paprika, chili powder, and 2 cups of cooked squash into a high speed blender. Blend on high until smooth. Now add the salt, liquid smoke, and hot sauce to taste and blend again. 
  4. Cook pasta according to package directions. 
  5. Meanwhile, saute kale in a pan until wilted.
  6. Add the drained pasta back into the pot. Pour in the sauce and kale; stir to combine. Cook over medium until heated throughout and serve immediately.

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