Zucchini Pasta with Roasted Butternut Squash and Creamy Garlic Sauce

by Gena on October 4, 2011

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Glad everyone liked the looks of my curried carrot and red grape slaw!!!

This week, temperatures plummeted for the first time since I’ve lived in DC. In a span of only a few hours, it seemed, we’d gone from swampy heat to the distinctive chill of autumn. Fall is my favorite season, and so I welcome this change , but even I was taken aback by its suddenness, which left me with a couple of critical questions:

  • Should I sleep with my window open or shut?
  • Should I break out my heavier fall coat now, or should I layer my lighter jacket with a sweater?
  • Is it too chilly for flats?

Most importantly,

  • What am I in the mood to eat?

I’m not really a seasonal eater: my food cravings are all over the place, and I’m as likely to go through a high raw phase in the dead of winter as I am to crave hot soup in the summertime. For whatever reason, the temperatures and textures my body seems to need have very little to do with the seasons. That said, I love to use seasonal produce, and autumn is the season of winter squash. I devour pumpkin, acorn, kabocha squash, and butternut squash from September onward, with relish. I’ll eat them in the summer, sure, but for whatever reason they don’t seem to have the same allure when it’s piping hot outside.

A few nights ago, I was struck by one of my first annual butternut squash cravings. The problem was that I was equally eager for something raw and cooling. I took a moment to think about what was in my fridge, and after some consideration I decided to throw together the following high-raw dinner. It was creamy, savory, and totally satisfying, and it met my simultaneous cravings for autumnal and summer produce nicely. I even went out of my comfort zone and made my typical zucchini alfredo sauce a little garlicky: it worked beautifully, and I surprised myself by loving every bit of the garlicky taste. If you’re not into garlic, simply omit or half the amount in the recipe.

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Zucchini Pasta with Roasted Butternut Squash and Cream Sauce (high raw, vegan, gluten free)

Serves 1

1 zucchini, spiralized
1 heaping cup butternut squash, cubed, drizzled lightly with olive oil, dusted with sea salt and pepper, and roasted at 400 degrees for 25 minutes.

For the sauce:

1 ¼ cup cashews, soaked for a few hours
¾ cup water
2 small cloves garlic
1 tsp agave
1/3 cup lemon juice
¾ tsp sea salt
1 tsp miso

1) Toss zucchini and squash together.

2) To make the sauce, put the soaked cashews in your Vita-Mix or food processor along with the agave, garlic, lemon juice, sea salt, miso, and 1/3 cup water. Blend until it looks thick and creamy. With the motor running (in either the processor or the Vita), drizzle more water in until the sauce is totally smooth (if you’re using a food processor, you’ll have to stop and scrape sides occasionally) and the consistency you want.

3) Pour enough sauce over your zucchini and butternut squash to coat them generously. Serve, topped with some nutritional yeast if you like!

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This dinner got served with a giant salad of massaged kale and black lentils. The following night, I used up the sauce and butternut squash by making another helping, and I added chickpeas to that bowl. Absolutely delicious.

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This is a perfect example of the kind of easy, versatile, and satisfying raw dinner I love. You could modify this in countless ways by adding different kinds of beans, nuts, seeds (hemp seeds would be fantastic!) or some seared tempeh. You could also substitute any winter squash or yams for the butternut here. No matter what, this is a delectable and simple way to enjoy a high raw meal that’s touched by the flavors and textures of autumnal food.

Before I go, I wanted to share a link to an article that my friend Sarah–whom you may remember from her wonderful green recovery joint post–wrote last night about the difficulties of being a raw foods lover in a community of people who are slightly more orthodox and extreme about raw foodism than she is (or wants to be). Given that

a) many people in the raw foods community do have histories of disorderd eating habits
b) dietary guidelines prescribed by 100% raw foodists can feel restrictive, and
c) restriction tends to be triggering for people with ED histories

we have a formula for potential conflict. Raw foodism (and plant-based diet in general) often speaks powerfully to men and women with ED histories; it’s a frustrating irony that it can also evoke or trigger the same black or white, rule-oriented thinking that got us into trouble in the first place. Some might claim that people with ED pasts are simply not well suited to raw foodism. But I’d like to believe that there’s another answer out there, which is for those same people to approach the diet without orthodoxy. Enjoy yourself, maintain an inclusive diet, and find a way of enjoying raw food that feels organic and reasonable to you.

This is my advice, and it’s the essence of Sarah’s honest, thoughtful, and respectful post. Sarah works in the heart of the raw world, and I think it’s very brave of her to assert her own food needs and preferences in spite of the fact that she so obviously reveres her raw food mentors. Check it out if you have some reading time, and share your thoughts!

Till tomorrow,


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{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

Rebecca October 4, 2011 at 3:19 pm

Have a bnut squash and some last of the season zucchini in the fridge…and I think I know what I’m making for dinner! I love meals inspired by in-season veggies! :)


Hannah October 4, 2011 at 3:21 pm

I look forward to reading Sarah’s article-raw foodism and disordered eating can become very enmeshed if one is not careful, and as you know I have not been careful with that in the past. It is a topic that needs more discussion!

Also-are those beets in the salad? I see purple things but I can’t figure out what they are…


daphna October 4, 2011 at 4:19 pm

Yummmy! Looks great! I just made your lemon cashew hemp bars, and my husband and kids loved them! Which is high praise because my husband really dislikes Larabars in general (I agreed that yours were much better). What other flavor combos have you found to work well? Also, how are you liking ochem? Take care!!


Sarah E. October 4, 2011 at 4:31 pm

Gena, I am so flattered you mentioned my post! Thank you so much for sharing your insights here and on my blog! You’re completely right when you point out that it can be challenging to admire the work of physicians, raw foodists, or other health figures and still honor our instincts and personal needs. It’s something I definitely think about working at a dedicated raw vegan retreat center, though most of the time I am grateful for the opportunity to take what sounds and feels right and leave the rest. It’s nice to know I’m not alone in making some of the connections outlined here. I truly appreciate the ways in which you support health on all levels through your blog and through your activism (love the perspectives on vegan activism you shared a little while back, by the way!). Thank you again, Gena! You made my morning!


Lauren October 4, 2011 at 5:21 pm

Great meal! So perfect for this weather!

I had kaboocha squash for the first time tonight and I thought of you! I knew that if you like it then of course, so would I! Yummy!


Ela October 4, 2011 at 5:29 pm

That sounds like a great meal, and great that it goes round a couple times too.

I’m super-busy today but will try to grab a minute to check out Sarah’s post: I’ve probably been in that situation, on one end or the other, many times!

hope your exam went well?


Sarah October 4, 2011 at 5:42 pm

Looks like a delicious meal! I was wondering what type of olive oil you recommend for roasting? Is EVOO ok?


Nada (One Arab Vegan) October 4, 2011 at 6:20 pm

I was actually about to buy some butternut squash the other day – but had no idea what to do with it so thank you for the inspiration!

Also thanks for sharing Sarah’s post – I think it’s so important to highlight that even 100% raw and Vegan diets aren’t the be all and end all. I know most raw foodies go through an obsessive phase at first – a honeymoon period of sorts (I definitely did), but it’s vital to get some perspective and acknowledge that a meticulous all or nothing mentality could potentially do far more damage than good. It bothers me that most raw food “gurus” insist on enforcing such strict rules (with no exceptions) within their raw food philosophies because this can evoke fear and a lot of pressure to follow, amongst readers. The same kind of pressure that can drive you to become obsessive about being 100% raw.

Definitely a topic that needs to be adressed more, thanks again!


Kaitlyn@TheTieDyeFiles October 4, 2011 at 6:31 pm

I’d love to try this with kabocha squash. I’ve never had it and I heard it’s delightful. A spiralizer is definitely going on my Christmas list.

Thanks for sharing Sarah’s article. I’m nowhere near a raw eater, and I’m not sure if I want to be, but I’m always interested in reading posts like these to get an idea of what the vegan community is like outside of my bubble.


Jessica C. October 5, 2011 at 12:58 am

I found kabocha really dry when I roasted it. :( But it was killer in soups and stir-fry because it didn’t disintegrate. I don’t know if you can find them but buttercup squash looks much like kabocha (but with squared edges) and has the creamiest, sweetest flesh I’ve ever had. I actually prefer it to butternut, and that’s saying something, but it’s hard to find where I live. Oh squash, I love you.


Audrey October 4, 2011 at 6:34 pm

That meal looks so delicious! I really think I need a spiralizer.


Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga October 4, 2011 at 6:59 pm

Great way to mix raw and cooked, and also incorporate seasonal, too. I love putting (leftover) roasted veggies on my salads. The flavor and texture contrasts are always nice.

And look at you…embracing garlic. Better you than me; I’m just not a fan. It’s actually the lingering part of it that bothers me more… I swear I can taste it more 12 hours later on my own breath than I could at the meal. LOL


Victoria (District Chocoholic) October 4, 2011 at 7:11 pm

Zucchini pasta is one of my favorite things in the world. Possibly tied with butternut squash on my list of favorite things. Now I want to make this.


Teeny Perez October 4, 2011 at 7:29 pm

This looks absolutely incredible! I love that it looks super easy and doesn’t have piles of ingredients. Since I’m a dabbler in raw foods (desserts are what I mainly cook) I can’t wait to add more to my repertoire.


Wayne Fenton October 4, 2011 at 8:08 pm

I am just coming off of a 40 day juice fast and then going into more of a raw food diet instead of my old S.A.D. diet. I just ordered a spiralizer and I am so looking forrward to trying this dish.


FoodFeud October 4, 2011 at 9:09 pm

I am SO excited for squash season, though I am enjoying eating high-raw these last few days, despite the cold. This dish is a great mix but I’m especially interested in the creamy garlic sauce. Sounds like it would go really well with a lot of stuff.


Hannah October 4, 2011 at 10:46 pm

Thank you for sharing the link; the article (and comments) made for fascinating eating. It’s spring here now, but happily there are still butternuts hanging around :)


Sarah October 4, 2011 at 11:08 pm

This looks incredible! I am excited to try this out tomorrow. I have a b nut squash and zucchini calling my name in the fridge!

Thanks for sharing the article. Such a different perspective and such an interesting read.


Christine (The Raw Project) October 4, 2011 at 11:26 pm

This looks fabulous, and I have butternuts ready to use in the garden, yay! :-) And thanks for the article link, can’t wait to check it out.


Ali October 5, 2011 at 12:24 am

Your recipe’s have gotten so creative over the course of you writing this blog, I am so so impressed with you. I really love your cooked/raw combinations. I think how you eats leads nicely into the topic you brought up at the end of the post. People with an e.d past should operate just like you, find out the foods that they love to eat, and that love their bodies and eat those, raw or otherwise. It is about finding what works for you, not about fitting yourself into a perfect little box that was determined by a group of people. It is a lesson in finding your own way amongst the crowd.


Kate (Peacocks & Moonshine) October 5, 2011 at 5:21 am

I love the idea of mixing raw and cooked
the best of both worlds :)
hope you enjoy the cool temperatures and please keep the delicious fall recipes coming-



Fran@ Broken Cookies Don't Count October 5, 2011 at 7:09 am

That looks SO good! I need to do more veggie roasting!


Heather October 5, 2011 at 9:43 am

Oh, Gena, this looks fabulous! I can’t wait to recreate this.

Also love the post from Sarah. It really can be triggering and stifling for vegans who may feel pressure to conform to a 100% raw lifestyle. While it is extremely healthy and beneficial in many ways, it simply doesn’t resonate with many vegans. I really liked Sarah emphasized the importance of cooked foods in a diet (which you have thoughtfully addressed in the past too!).

It is so important to find what works for you and be OK with it, regardless of opinion…especially with people who have an ED history. I’ve definitely felt this pressure first-hand and it can be really difficult to deal with. But once you get into the routine of practicing eating habits that make you feel like the best version of yourself, you never look back. :-)


Melissa October 5, 2011 at 10:58 am

Just wondering what brand of spiralizer everone prefers? I went to get one on Amazon and there were so many to choose from!


Rebecca October 5, 2011 at 3:21 pm

I have the World Cuisine Tri-Blade model.

It’s nothing fancy, but it is very affordable and definitely gets the job done! I usually just spiralize zucchini, and it’s perfect for that :)


Julie J October 5, 2011 at 7:24 pm

Just made this tonight. So good! Felt like a rich meal at a fancy restaurant, yet was super nutritious.


Pure2raw twins October 6, 2011 at 11:01 am

i do not eat seasonal either, i try to listen to what my body wants and go with it no matter what season it is

i love making zucchini pasta with cooked veggies! love mixing both worlds together, usually how most of my meals are


Lauren October 6, 2011 at 7:38 pm

Thanks for your comments on the inclusive approach to raw food – I struggle with raw food partly because I’ve damaged my digestive system with EDs and often raw foods are too acidic/upsetting for me, and partly because it feels like I’m always “doing it wrong” if I adapt it to fit my needs. This looks like a lovely intuitive balance of what felt right to have raw, and what your body wanted/needed. Inspiring as always.


Kate October 9, 2011 at 8:57 pm

bravo for addressing such a tough subject. I find this with my nutrition clients often. Being gentle with oneself is so important; thanks for spreading the word!


Kristle October 13, 2011 at 8:04 am

I made this last night for me and my husband. We both thought it was absolutely delicious! I live in New England and love butternut squash in the fall, but have a hard time finding creative ways to use it in a meal. This recipe is definitely a keeper! Thanks!


Aubrey December 18, 2011 at 11:59 am

This is SO wonderful because I went so far and almost ending up loosing my life to an eating disorder but it still is my healer thats why I look to people like you who have a balance and not over the top or I’d be back there!
Thank you so much for your inspiration!


Natalie January 19, 2013 at 8:57 pm

Soooo yummy…just tried this, even carnivore hubby loved it!!!! Thank you, peace and blessings.


Liz January 21, 2013 at 10:57 pm

I made this last night, absolutely awesome!


Audrey June 7, 2013 at 7:02 pm

Oh. My. Gosh. Just made this. DELISH.


Gena June 9, 2013 at 7:49 am



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