I love this smooth, creamy rich sauce to pour over pasta for a cheesy, comforting dish! The butternut squash really makes this look like cheese sauce, the cashews make it super creamy, and the nutritional yeast gives it the cheesy flavor. I've made this using Banza, a gluten-free pasta made from chickpeas (and it's delicious)! But feel free to use your favorite pasta! Enjoy!
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the diced onion and cook until softened, 1 to 2 minutes.
Add the celery and carrots and cook until the vegetables have softened, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the butternut squash and cook until slightly browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Add just enough water (about 2 cups) to barely cover the vegetables. Add the cashews and 1 teaspoon salt, bring to a boil and cook until the vegetables are tender when pierced with a fork, about 10 minutes, but cooking time will vary slightly, depending on the size of the vegetables.
For the pasta: Salt the water and cook the pasta to al dente according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.
For the breadcrumb topping: Roughly chop the bread and pulse in a food processor until the bread resembles coarse crumbs. Heat the oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add the breadcrumbs, garlic powder, paprika and salt and toss to combine. Cook, tossing regularly, until golden and crispy, 3 to 5 minutes.
Transfer the vegetable-cashew mixture to a blender along with the remaining cooking liquid. Blend until smooth, then add the nutritional yeast, garlic powder and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Blend until smooth, then taste and adjust the seasoning to taste.
Pour the creamy sauce over the cooked pasta and toss to combine.
Sprinkle with crispy breadcrumbs and parsley and serve.
I like to make this recipe with gluten-free Food For Life bread.
You can substitute the butternut squash with sweet potatoes.