This easy go-to plant-based dish turns super nutritious acorn squash and white navy beans into a deliciously creamy and dreamy pasta sauce to top any whole grain pasta or gluten-free noodles you prefer. You can use canned white navy beans or pre-cooked white navy beans (from dry) in this recipe. (Want to learn more about how nutritious acorn squashes are? Read here). [wprm-jump-recipe]
This protein-rich and satisfying Dreamy Vegan Acorn Squash Pasta only has 10 key ingredients and is dairy-free, nut-free, egg-free and soy-free. It can also be easily made gluten-free if you use gluten-free pasta, zucchini noodles, rice noodles or spaghetti squash noodles. Pair with extra vegetables on the side or a piece of toasty Bruschetta (try this Vegan Kale Mushroom Bruschetta recipe), whole grain bread or gluten-free alternative. The addition of vitamin B-12 fortified nutritional yeast in this recipe gives a slight ‘cheesiness’ and an extra nutritional boost to the dish, but it is not compulsory to add this if you don’t have any nutritional yeast on hand. If you desire an extra cheesiness to this pasta sauce, then sprinkle a handful of vegan cheese shreds onto each pasta and sauce combination plate before serving. Read on for the recipe!
A filling vegan, plant-based, nut-free, egg-free, soy-free, dairy-free (and possibly gluten-free) pasta dish that will satisfy the whole family and is freezer and mealprep friendly!
- 1.5 cups cooked or canned white navy beans [268 g]
- 3 cups chopped cooked acorn squash cubes [425 g] (or a small acorn squash with raw weight of 583 g)
- ½ tablespoon canola oil
- 1 cup chopped onion [125 g]
- 1 cup chopped carrots [135 g]
- 5 large garlic cloves (chopped)
- ¾ cup vegetable broth (or water)
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ¾ teaspoon pepper
- 2 tablespoons vitamin B-12 fortified nutritional yeast
- 1 box whole wheat spaghetti noodles or fusilli pasta or gluten-free pasta (not included in the nutritional analysis)
- roasted pumpkin seeds
- chopped walnuts or pecan nuts
- handful of vegan cheese shreds (for a more 'cheesy' flavor)
If using canned white navy beans, rinse and drain the beans well with cold water, then set the measured amount aside. Alternatively use cooked white navy beans (for tips on cooking dry beans, read this article).
Wash and slice a small acorn squash in half through the stem and use a spoon to scoop out the seeds. Then cook the acorn squash via microwaving, roasting or steaming. The easiest way to cook the acorn squash is to microwave! To do this, place half the acorn squash (flesh side down) in a microwaveable safe bowl with 1/4 cup of water. Then cover the bowl with a microwaveable safe plate and microwave the acorn squash on high for 5-6 minutes. Repeat this process for the other acorn squash half. Then scoop out the cooked flesh into a blender or food processor to blend with the other ingredients. (For more details about the steaming method, see recipe notes.)
To roast, preheat the oven to 350 F or 177 C. Then further cut the acorn squash halves into 1 - 1.5 inch wide semi-circle slices. Spread these acorn squash slices evenly onto a foil lined baking sheet or a wide glass bakeware pan. Bake for about 40-50 minutes or until tender (can be pierced through with a fork). (Optional: brush the orange cut sides with a bit of olive oil before baking.) While the acorn squash is cooking, proceed with the next few steps. Then after the acorn squash slices are cooked through, remove them from the oven and let cool before cutting into cubes.
Meanwhile, chop the onions, garlic and carrots.
Prepare pasta (or gluten-free alternative) according to package instructions.
Heat the ½ tablespoon of oil in a large saucepan or skillet on a medium stove heat setting. Once heated, add the onions, garlic and carrot slices and sauté for about 8 minutes or until soft.
Next, add in the cooked or canned white navy beans, salt and pepper. Stir and let the saucepan contents cook for another 2-3 minutes, then turn off the heating stove element.
Place the sautéed contents from the saucepan into a large food processor bowl or blender, along with the 3 cups of chopped acorn squash and vegetable broth (or water). Pulse a few times until a smooth creamy pasta sauce is formed. Add in the nutritional yeast and pulse again to combine all the ingredients well. Taste the sauce and adjust seasonings as desired. Serve with your desired whole grain pasta or gluten-free alternative!
To steam, place the acorn squash halves in a steamer pot that is already steaming and cook them for about 10 minutes or until just tender. Then use a knife or fork to poke the flesh of the acorn squash in the steamer to see if it is almost cooked through. If so, remove these halves from the steamer and let them cool for a few minutes. Then use a fruit peeler to easily remove the skins off the acorn squash halves (or slice the acorn squash into wedges and use a knife or fruit peeler to remove the skin off of each wedge). Chop the peeled cooked acorn squash into cubes to make 3 cups’ worth.
Roasting the acorn squash may be more flavorful but this step would also extend the cooking process so plan ahead. Alternatively, if you prefer, you can just use raw acorn squash cubes in this recipe. To do so, remove the peel of the sliced semi-circle shaped acorn squash wedges and then chop up the acorn squash flesh into 3 cups’ worth of cubes. Then add the acorn squash cubes in with the chopped carrots, garlic and onions to sauté for a longer period of time until all pieces are soft and cooked through.
If you do not have vitamin B-12 fortified nutritional yeast, you can omit this from the recipe.
For an oil-free recipe, substitute the canola oil with ¼ cup [60 mL] of vegetable broth to sauté the garlic, onions, carrots and raw acorn squash cubes (if using raw instead of pre-cooked acorn squash in this recipe) on a medium heat stovetop setting until most of the vegetable broth has been cooked off and the onion pieces are soft and translucent.
The roasted pumpkin seeds or nuts all make a fantastic combination with this pasta sauce! If you want this pasta sauce to be less thick and creamy-like, you can add a bit more vegetable broth into the food processor to create a thinner consistency sauce. If you have extra cooked acorn squash remaining, these would make a nice accompaniment as a side dish.
This Dreamy Vegan Acorn Squash Pasta is extremely versatile. Have some left over after your dinner meal? Just freeze up what’s left or take those leftovers to work or school later in the week. You can even make a large batch of this sauce on the weekends as a meal prep recipe and then divide the sauce into smaller portions for single meals. I have even frozen small portions of sauce in ice-cube trays to keep and use for my toddler and school-aged child as lunchbox pasta meals. Have a party or potluck get together coming up? Why not make this dish for all to enjoy at the function? Hope you and your family enjoy this cozy and filling meal on a weeknight or lazy weekend!