Creamy and packed with flavor, you won't even miss the cheese in this Vegan Mac & Cheese.
Put the cashews in a bowl, cover with water and let them soak over night (or at least a few hours).
If you didn't buy the squash already cubed, peel, seed and cut the butternut squash into small cubes.
Option 1: The quickest way to make the squash is to steam it in a vegetable steamer. Steam for about 5-7 minutes until the squash is tender. Set it aside.
Option 2: Roast the squash. Drizzle in a little olive oil, place on a baking pan covered with parchment paper or aluminum foil in one layer. Bake at 425F degrees for about 35 minutes, turning the cubes over halfway through the roasting. They will get a little brown and be fork tender.
Heat the oven to 350F degrees (so it is ready when you put the casserole together and in the oven).
While you are preparing the sauce, soak the macaroni is hot water until it's time to put them in the casserole. Some gluten-free macaroni takes longer to cook than others.
Drain the cashews. Place them in your food processor with about 1/2 cup of the almond milk.
Process until smooth.
Add the garlic and onion. Process until smooth.
Dump in the remaining almond milk, lemon juice, paprika, salt, pepper, mustard, nutritional yeast, and cornstarch, and process until smooth.
Add the squash and process until smooth.
Using a deep casserole dish that is not too wide (I used an 8" x 8" x 3" casserole dish), spray the inside of the baking dish with oil.
Drain the macaroni and dump it into the dish.
Pour the sauce over the macaroni.
Sprinkle the panko bread crumbs over the top of the casserole. Spray with a little oil.
Bake at 350F degrees about 40 minutes until the casserole is set (not too jiggly), top is nicely browned and the macaroni is al dente (perfectly cooked and not mushy).
Note: I really love this sauce and it tastes almost like cheese to me, but if you are expecting the ooey gooey texture and taste of cheddar cheese, you will be disappointed. But for someone like me who cannot eat cheese, this is SO good.