Creamy butternut squash pasta that skips the dairy is served with salmon and greens. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)

Creamy butternut squash pasta that skips the dairy is served with salmon and greens. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)

Creamy pasta that holds the cream

This butternut squash sauce will make you forget it’s low fat and plant based

There is very little I love more than a huge pile of creamy, cheesy pasta.

Carbs on carbs seasoned with fat and salt is a one-way ticket to happy town for me, but my stomach pays the price. I often regret my dairy indulgence within hours.

I’ve tried using oil-based substitutes, but they never create a sauce with the consistency I crave, and often end up as a disappointing oil slick on a plate.

Tomato-based sauces are delicious, but they don’t make that thick sauce that goes so well with vinegary salad and fish.

Nut-based sauces are just as satisfying as the cheese-based ones, and for good reason, because they can easily pack in a similar amount of calories and fat as the traditional sauce they replicate, and are much more expensive than cheese and cream.

I have concluded that the best way to feed my sticky pasta needs is to find a plant-based substitute that isn’t trying to be something it’s not.

This creamy butternut squash sauce is thick and luxurious, and nutritional yeast gives it a nutty flavor that will make you forget that it is low fat and plant based. I paired my pasta with salmon and sauteed kale with lemon.

Ingredients:

1 small butternut squash, about 2 cups diced

½ large yellow onion

6 cloves garlic

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

1 cup cherry tomatoes

2 teaspoons olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

1 pound pasta — spaghetti, fettuccine and linguine are excellent options, but basically any pasta will do

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Peel your squash and cut into ½-inch cubes, toss in 1 teaspoon olive oil, and roast for 45 minutes.

Remove from the oven and set aside. The squash may not be completely soft yet, that’s expected.

Slice your onion into ¼-inch pieces and toss in olive oil with the tomatoes and peeled whole garlic cloves.

Add the onion and tomatoes to the tray with your cooling squash. Season with salt and pepper.

Kick the heat on your oven up to 400 degrees.

Roast the vegetables for about 15 minutes, or until both the onion and squash are soft.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Prepare your pasta water. Be sure to salt the water before adding your dried pasta — it should taste like seawater.

Add the roasted vegetables to a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Use a little of the pasta water (one teaspoon at a time) to loosen the sauce if it is too dry. The finished sauce should be smooth and creamy.

Add in your nutritional yeast and blend again for a few seconds.

Cook your pasta until almost al dente. You want to drain the pasta before it is completely cooked because it will finish cooking in the sauce.

Pour your sauce into the pasta pot and bring to a simmer.

Add your noodles to the bubbling sauce and cook, stirring constantly, until the noodles are soft and have absorbed some of the sauce.

Taste and season with extra salt and pepper, and maybe a bit of lemon juice if desired.

Garnish with parsley.

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