With the weather starting to be a little bit chilly lately, it is time to treat ourselves with a comfort healthy dish, and my suggestion today is: butternut squash noodles with spinach and a delicious cashew sauce. Vegan, gluten free, and quick to prepare, it’s a perfect weeknight dinner.
Regarding the increasing number of vegan recipes on the blog lately, you might wonder if I didn’t turn vegan, or if I intend to. Well, let’s say that even if I am not vegan myself, I love plant based recipes and I strongly believe that vegan cuisine, far from being fade and pointless as its detractors might say, is on the contrary very creative. Often healthy, it also has a great impact on the environment, helping us to reduce our meat intake. So I think that everyone should try vegan recipes from time to time; it’s a win-win: it’s good for you, it’s good for the planet.
Back to this recipe, I made veggie noodles again! Yes I know, it will become an habit, but I really love the fact than with a spiralizer you can enjoy your veggies in a totally different way, meaning in the shape of long noodles. The most famous use of a spiralizer is to make zucchini noodles (check my Sesame crusted Ahi tuna with zoodles, my Vegan thai peanut & quinoa salad, or my favorite and unique guest post on the blog Raw courgette spaghetti bowl).
But the cool thing with a spiralizer (no, I am not sponsored by anyone telling you all this) is that you can also basically spiralize any vegetable of your choice. It works with zucchini, cucumber, but also with sweet potatoes, beet, yellow squash, butternut squash, etc. It is a very good way to eat more veggies in a funnier way. Most of the time, veggie noodles enables you to create a brand new pasta dish, except than instead of pasta, you use veggies.
I am not a huge fan of collecting any useless utensils in the kitchen that we usually forget after a few times use only, but if I had to choose one, I would definitely go for this one (and also a food processor). There are so many incredible (and often healthy) recipes you can make with these two utensils together! If however you don’t want to invest because you don’t feel ready or you are still not sure if you will like veggie noodles (I promise you will), you can still make homemade noodles using a potato peelers. Instead of long spaghetti you will have long thin tagliatelle, but it works very well too!
So for this recipe I made butternut squash noodles – and the good news is that you can now buy some butternut squash already spiralized in some stores (in the US in Whole Foods for instance). If you are in a hurry when coming back from work late, it’s a good option! Here, I simply cooked the butternut squash noodles in a frying pan with olive oil a few minutes only, and added some fresh baby spinach.
I made it fully vegan and believe me, you won’t miss any dairy product such as cream in this dish. The flavors and the texture are just perfect! I used cashews to make the cream, that I first toasted a little bit, for the taste, added a drop of maple syrup to give some character, a pinch of salt, some garlic, water, and mixed it all. Yes, it is this simple! Then just season with salt and pepper according to your taste. You will probably have some cashew sauce leftovers as I made a quite big quantity here, but you can use it as a dressing in many other dishes, or simply double the proportions of this one if you want.
One quick tip for busy days: just dice the butternut squash (instead of spiralize it), and cook it a few minutes in a frying pan with vegetable oil, following the instructions of the rest of this recipe as usual. And if you fancy a variant of this recipe, simply use sweet potato noodles instead!
- 1 butternut squash, peeled
- 2 cups baby spinach
- 2 tbsp olive oil (or other vegetable oil)
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 1 cup cashews
- ¾ cup water
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 tbsp clove garlic, minced
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 tbsp toasted cashews
- For the sauce: place cashews in a saute pan and roast for about 5 minutes until toasted. Transfer the cashews to a blender (or food processor), together with minced garlic, maple syrup, water and salt. Blend until very smooth. Add more water if needed.
- Cut off the ends of the butternut squash and cut in half. Load the squash on the spiralizer and spiralize the whole half. You can also use a peeler to peel the squash into long, thin, noodle like, strips.*
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the butternut squash noodles, and toss in the pan for 3-4 minutes with tongs until tender-crisp.
- Lower the heat a little and toss in the spinach. Cook for another 2 minutes.
- Add half of the cashew sauce, and toss to combine. Add water if the mixture is too sticky. Season generously with salt and pepper, and sprinkle toasted cahews on top.