Protein-Packed Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese (Vegan) |

Protein-Packed Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese

Protein-Packed Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese (Vegan) |

This is not exactly what I had planned to write about today. I mean, I planned to tell you about Butternut Squash Macaroni as a follow-up to my How to Peel and Cut a Butternut Squash post last week, but I did not intend to get all heavy as I’m about to do.

Let me preface this by saying I’m fine, Aaron’s fine, and the puggles are…obliviously content and cuddly as usual.

Protein-Packed Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese (Vegan) |

Since we moved from Brookline to Boston a couple of months ago, I’ve become acutely aware that I used to live in a very safe, very affluent, children-frolicking-in-the-parks sort of neighborhood. This is not to say that there was no crime, but the police logs were mostly sparse, with the occasional weekend noise disturbance (thank you, Boston University). I never ever felt uncomfortable walking by myself or at home alone.

Shortly after we moved, there were a series of scary muggings in nearby parks in broad daylight, and a few of them happened along the path I had chosen for my daily afternoon walks with Honey and Barley. This totally freaked me out, because I had chosen that walk thinking it was a really safe (and also very pretty) route to take. So, I changed our walk and upped my own vigilance (no earbuds, leave my purse at home, etc.), and I felt on edge and at the same time like I was overreacting.

We also made some changes to the security of our building, further fueled after we learned that the unit below us had been broken into a few years ago—again, in broad daylight on a Saturday—and we re-activated the previous owners’ security system, which for some reason they hadn’t used in years. The system wasn’t reliably working though, and we even debated scrapping it, but ultimately we decided to spend a bit more and have a new one installed. That was last week.

Yesterday, I was upstairs working in our office with the dogs by my side and I heard what sounded like our door being unlocked. I thought maybe I was again being paranoid and confusing the noise with someone entering the other unit in our building, but then our alarm immediately chimed to announce the door was open before going into “burglary” mode. Just as quickly as it had opened, I heard the door slam shut. In the handful of seconds this was all happening, I simultaneously realized I had left my phone downstairs, decided to lock the dogs in the office to keep them from investigating whatever might be happening in our home, and stood perfectly still in the upstairs hallway. I wish I had thought to look out the window to see who broke in, but I didn’t.

I remember when the security guy had come by to install the new system, he told me I might be surprised to learn that most break-ins happen during the day and even when you have security signs outside. We had the signs and our car parked in the driveway, and had I not activated the security system that day, there very likely would have been someone who made it past the door and into our home.

I don’t mean to scare any of you; however, these last two months have reminded me of the importance of being proactive in our own safety, especially as women. I live in Boston, but in an area that’s low crime and residential, and these situations can happen anywhere. One of the best things I did for myself was to take a series of self-defense classes last summer, offered for free by the local police through my all-women’s gym. I didn’t particularly enjoy the classes (even getting fake attacked is stressful!), but I learned a lot and I know I’m much better prepared to react should something happen to me or someone else in my presence. I mention this because I think it’s worth looking into similar classes near where you live.

Protein-Packed Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese (Vegan) |

It took me a while to come down from what happened yesterday afternoon, and when I did, I dove straight into a giant bowl of this vegan mac and ‘cheese’. I needed comfort in a big way, and I can’t think of many foods that are more nostalgic and comforting than this dish.

Protein-Packed Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese (Vegan) |

I hope your week has been better than mine, but if you are in need of a warming, satisfying meal (for reasons big or small or just because it’s getting chilly outside), this butternut squash macaroni and ‘cheese’ will certainly do the trick.

Protein-Packed Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese (Vegan) |


Protein-Packed Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese

Protein-Packed Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese (Vegan) |

Protein-Packed Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese

Gluten Free, Vegan,

Serves: 6-8

Prep Time: 10 mins

Cook Time: 30 mins

Total Time: 40 mins

Butternut squash has this almost magical ability to transform into the creamiest sauce with almost no added oil. It's the perfect base for a non-dairy mac & cheese, and even better when paired with cannellini beans for a hearty, protein-packed meal.

Protein-Packed Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese (Vegan) |

Protein-Packed Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese



To prepare the squash:

  • 4 cups cubed butternut squash
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • couple pinches fine sea salt
  • couple pinches freshly ground black pepper

For the pasta:

  • 16 ounces macaroni

To make the cheese sauce:

  • 1 batch (4 cups) roasted & seasoned butternut squash cubes
  • one 15-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 1/2 cups plain unsweetened cashew milk (or other plant milk)
  • 2/3 cup nutritional yeast
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • sea salt and black pepper, to taste

For topping:

  • 3-4 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

Cuisine: Gluten Free, Vegan Servings: 6-8

Prep Time: 10 mins Cook Time: 30 mins Total Time: 40 mins

Butternut squash has this almost magical ability to transform into the creamiest sauce with almost no added oil. It's the perfect base for a non-dairy mac & cheese, and even better when paired with cannellini beans for a hearty, protein-packed meal.


  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Add the chopped squash, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper to the baking sheet and toss to coat. Roast the squash for about 40 minutes, or until tender.
  • Once the squash has been in the oven for about 25-30 minutes, begin cooking your pasta according to the package directions.
  • Once the squash is tender, add it to a blender along with the cannellini beans, cashew milk (or other non-dairy milk), nutritional yeast, lemon juice, dijon mustard, and turmeric. Blend until smooth. Taste the sauce and add salt and pepper, then blend until fully mixed.
  • By this point, the macaroni pasta should be cooked. Drain it well and return it to the pot.
  • Add the sauce to the pasta and toss it gently to combine and heat through. Serve it hot, sprinkled with the parsley. Leftovers can be kept in the refrigerator in a tightly covered container for up to 5 days.

Notes [1]

It may initially seem like there’s too much sauce for the cooked pasta, but rest-assured, it’s just right. The macaroni will absorb the sauce over time.

Copyright © 2020 Amanda Maguire for Pickles & Honey

Leave a Comment

  1. Laura says

    So sorry you went through that, super scary!! I’m glad everyone (including the doggies!) are safe. Thank goodness for your new alarm system!!! And thanks for the safety reminders….you just never know when it could happen.

  2. Ahh Amanda, I’m glad you are ok! I had a similar situation happen last year when I was running, I always (stupidly) ran by myself, at 5am in the dark with earbuds in, no phone and no pepper spray. Part of this was because I thought I lived in a safe neighborhood and part was my mind saying ‘who is out this early anyway?!’. A man attacked me as I ran past him and thankfully people were around to help, but it made me realize that you just always need to be aware and that self defense classes are a sound decision. I really still need to take a class, but your reminder is nudging me to get on it sooner rather than later!

    1. Amanda says

      That is awful, Abby! Thank goodness there were other people nearby to help you. A big thing they stressed in my self-defense classes was just being aware and walking (or running!) with confidence, like you know exactly where you’re headed and you’re not listing to music/on your phone when you’re out by yourself.

  3. Molly says

    I’m so sorry that happened to you! If you don’t mind sharing, where did you move to? I live in JP, across from the arboretum, and I stopped jogging alone after the sexual assaults. And then the robbery at the pond…I love JP, but I hate that I have to limit and restrict my outside activities, even in broad daylight.

    1. Amanda says

      I’m in JP too! I didn’t hear about the sexual assaults…just the muggings (3, I think?) at the pond and Franklin park.

      1. Molly says

        Ugh, yeah…in the spring, there was a sexual assault in the arboretum around 10am. After I heard, I stopped running there and stayed along Centre St. So sad. But awesome that you live in JP now! Maybe I’ll run into you sometime 🙂

  4. Cadry says

    That is so scary, Amanda!! I’m really glad that you were proactive about getting an alarm for your home and in setting it while you are at home. I had a similar incident happen 7 or 8 years ago when I was living alone in a bad part of North Hollywood. I was up working at 3 or 4 am, doing some typing that I had to finish. Thank God I was awake, because otherwise I never would have heard the guy who was trying to open my lock. I would have just slept through it. But as it was, I was sitting right by the door. I looked out the peephole and saw a man in a baseball cap fiddling with my lock. I yelled in a loud voice, “Hey! Get out of here!” And he quickly ran down the hallway. It was terrifying, and I immediately started looking into other places to live.

    1. Amanda says

      I would have immediately started looking for other places to live too. The thought of getting robbed is bad enough, but being home when it happens is terrifying. We don’t have a peephole (that’s about to change!) and so there was a minute where I wasn’t sure if the person had left or not.

  5. Tara says

    I’m glad you’re okay!

    This is exactly what I wanted to make for dinner tonight, you’ve saved me having to search for a recipe. Thanks!

    1. Amanda says

      Thanks, Tara. 🙂 I’m so glad I could save you some time searching for a dinner recipe!

  6. Nicollette D says

    Wow, this is terrible. I’m so sorry to hear this happened to you. You’ve inspired me–I’m signing up for self defense classes immediately.

    1. Amanda says

      Thanks, Nicollette. <3 The self-defense classes were really good and definitely helpful. The ones I took were facilitated through my gym, but open and free to the public as well.

  7. Jennifer says

    Taking precautions are super important. I lived in Philly where there are really fancy rich areas and really poor areas. I heard a lot of crimes I the higher end places. I got my apartment broken into in a nice area. I also noticed that more guys got mugged than girls. Probably because girls were constantly being told to be careful. I never took self defense but took other precautions like not listening to head phones, avoid walking down side streets, and walking in the middle of roads if there wasnt any traffic.

    keep safe.

  8. im so glad you and the pugs are doing good. its so scary even think of it. take care…

  9. Caitlin says

    how terrifying!! i would have been hysterical. i’m so glad you are safe and the pups are safe. how the heck did the burglar open the door?? also, my friend lora and her family live in beacon hill- is that where this crime is happening?

    on a positive note, this mac and cheese looks damnnnnn good, girl. like, so creamy and eat out of the pot good.

    1. Amanda says

      No, we’re not anywhere near Beacon Hill, so no need to worry your friend!

  10. Yikes!! Glad you hear you are okay. The same thing happened to my friend in LA. So scary. I am glad you had this bowl of mac and cheese to comfort you … as well as a security system!!

    1. Amanda says

      Thanks, Katie. <3 As far as I'm concerned, the security system has already paid for itself!

  11. Yikes! That is scary! Glad you and the pups are ok. This pasta looks so good! It’ll be on the menu at my house next week for sure 🙂

  12. Kristy says

    Oh my gosh, Amanda- I’m so glad to hear you’re okay! That is so, so, so scary. Once, while I was showering, someone came into our house and tried to get into the bathroom (where I was showering). Luckily, I had locked both bathroom doors because I lived with guys who sometimes wouldn’t knock, and I thought for sure it had been one of them trying to get in for some reason. When I got out, the kitchen door was wide open and one of my roommates was on the other end of the house, watching TV and didn’t hear any of it. It’s not good when you feel helpless or out of control of your personal safety. Hopefully, the alarm scared your burglar off for good!

    1. Amanda says

      Thanks, Kristy. I can’t even imagine being in the shower and having someone break in. Thank goodness you locked the door!
      I think the alarm scared them off, but if not, we’ve changed the locks and added a deadbolt. That gives me more peace of mind (and more time to react should I hear someone messing with the locks).

  13. I’m so glad you’re OK, Amanda! That’s pretty much my worst nightmare. How were they able to open the door?! Our dog barks at the slightest noise from the front door or whenever he sees somebody outside. He’s a pretty good alarm system. 😉 On a happier note, this mac and cheese looks delicious! I love butternut squash.

    1. Amanda says

      We think it was someone who had a key because it happened so fast. The previous sellers made some dumb decisions with keys/locks for the building, which we’ve quickly rectified. Unfortunately (or fortunately?), our dogs don’t bark, so they’re a terrible alarm. My dad joked that I need a big, scary dog…that will know not to eat the puggles. 😉

  14. Lauren says

    Thank you for sharing your story, Amanda. Just last night I found myself hyper vigilant about my personal safety. There have been media reports of home invasions – not necessarily in my neighborhood, but close enough. I was in the pharmacy parking lot after dark and there were young men in hoodies looking like they were up to no good. It reminded me to be vigilant about my actions – I made sure I wasn’t followed home and was quick and purposeful when I got in. My husband is working nights now and I hate being alone. Your story reminds me it’s not crazy to be careful. Also, thanks for the recipe! I cannot wait to try it.

    1. Amanda says

      I’m with you–generally speaking, groups of young men hanging out after dark are up to no good. I think it was really smart that you were aware of your surroundings and purposeful about your actions (the police officers who led my self-defense classes said this is the key to preventing most confrontations). I’m sorry to hear about the string of home invasions near you. I hope they catch whoever is doing them soon!

  15. Johnna says

    How scary! I’ve never been in a situation like this, but would certainly need comfort food afterwards. I think a bowl of this sounds perfect. Adding this to our family menu for next week.

    1. Amanda says

      I hope your family loves the butternut squash mac & cheese, Johnna!

  16. What a story – you must feel so lucky to be safe! I always try to play if safe as well (taking my keys and ID with me when I run, not running the woods by myself etc) and this is such a good reminder to keep playing it safe. You must have been pretty shaken up afterwards! I am sure this Mac and Cheese hit the spot! Pinned!

    1. Amanda says
  17. Claudia says

    Hey, good morning! I made this last night and it was super delicious! Taking the leftovers to work for lunch 🙂

    1. Amanda says

      Awesome!! Enjoy the leftovers, Claudia!

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  19. Sarah says

    My husband and I really enjoyed this dish, we both appreciated the extra protein as we are in the thick of training! It was even better the next day as leftovers. Love the use of squash and beans. This has gone on our list ‘to make again.’ I will be browsing your site more often for more recipes 🙂 Thank you!

    1. Amanda says

      I’m so glad you and your husband enjoyed the mac & cheese, Sarah! Good luck with your training!

  20. Kim says

    I have a quick question. The garlic – should I just put the full cloves in among the squash, and blend the garlic with the squash as well? Or do I bake it with the garlic and omit the garlic when blending? thanks!

    1. Amanda says

      Yes, roast the full cloves with the squash and then put the garlic and squash in the blender. The garlic adds a really nice flavor!

  21. Julia says

    Hi Amanda! I’m currently on a strict elimination diet and I was wondering if you thought I could get away with not adding the cannellini beans to the sauce, or had any ideas for a substitute! I’m supposed to stay away from any beans. Thanks!


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