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Earth Eats: Real Food, Green Living

Butternut Mac ’n’ Cheese With Crunchy Sunflower Topping

Everyone at your Thanksgiving table will be able to enjoy this vegan mac 'n' cheese.

Who says traditions need to stay the same?

On WFIU’s Noon Edition, Kelsey Smith of Plated Table offered this upgrade to your ho-hum mac ‘n’ cheese recipe. Want to make it vegan? No problem!

Butternut Mac’n’Cheese with Crunchy Sunflower Topping


  • 2 pounds butternut squash, skinned and cubed
  • 2-4 cloves of garlic
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 can white beans
  • 3/4 cup and 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (divided)
  • 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2-3 cups milk (dairy or vegan)
  • 3/4 pound macaroni noodles
  • 3/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Parsley, finely chopped for garnish


  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. Peel and cube butternut squash and toss with garlic and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Bake until squash is tender and garlic is caramelized, roughly 15 minutes. Toast sunflower seeds by spreading them on a baking sheet. Check and stir often as these guys burn quickly. This should only take about 10 minutes. Let cool. When baking is done, decrease temperature of oven to 350 degrees F.
  3. Cook noodles until al dente.
  4. In a blender, combine sunflowers, 1 tablespoon oil, 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast, 1-2 cloves garlic, and salt and pepper. Be careful not to over-blend this or you’ll end up with sunflower flour. Remove from blender.
  5. Blend squash and 1-2 cloves garlic with beans, 3/4 cup nutritional yeast, mustard, turmeric, salt, pepper, and vinegar. Add milk 1 cup at a time until you reach a smooth consistency.
  6. Combine sauce and pasta in a casserole dish. Top with sunflower mixture. Bake until sunflower topping browns slightly. Garnish with parsley and serve piping hot.

Earth Eats Staff

Earth Eats Staff is a weekly podcast, public radio program and blog bringing you the freshest news and recipes inspired by local food and sustainable agriculture.

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