A Vegetable-Forward Thanksgiving ft. Vegan Butternut Squash Pasta Alfredo

This will be the Thanksgiving I hope to forget. After avoiding it for the last almost three years, I have finally gotten Covid. It’s thankfully pretty mild, but for the one symptom that I was really hoping to avoid: loss of taste and smell. I have known many people who had this symptom, most got their senses back, but took a while, and one friend has never fully recovered. Because of both my passion and my work in food, this hits me really hard, maybe even more than the fact that I will be spending my favorite holiday in isolation. Until this happens, you don’t (or at least I didn’t) completely understand how essential being able to taste food affects your hunger, not just appetite. Put another way, I probably overeat most of the time because of how much I enjoy good food. Now I have a sense that I am hungry, but after a few bites I am not interested anymore. It’s like chewing air, and drinking distilled water.

But Thanksgiving is all about gratitude and I have so much to be grateful for. I am grateful for being able to be of service to others, which is why I give back by volunteering on three boards that address hunger and nutrition insecurity. Would you please cheer me up and help our community in San Francisco and beyond by considering support of one of these three organizations? Any amount helps, and if you have more time than money, volunteers are always welcome at the first two organizations below. Thank you for considering. RECIPE BELOW

SF-Marin Food Bank

Working to end hunger in San Francisco and Marin. More than 60% of the food we distribute is fresh produce.


Meals on Wheels San Francisco

Providing nutritious chef-prepared meals, safety checks and social contact to homebound seniors.


The Teaching Kitchen Collaborative

An international collaborative of programs working to address our complex health problems not in a pill or procedure, but in a simple yet powerful concept: the teaching kitchen.



The way I most enjoy helping people improve their health is through recipes. At the request of a colleague, I am sharing the recipe for the Vegan Butternut Squash Pasta Alfredo I developed and taught at this month’s Thrive Kitchen at Home class. I know it’s a little last minute, but as long as you have time for a grocery run, you can make this tomorrow! Sorry, I didn’t get a good photo, but you know what alfredo sauce looks like 😉

Vegan Thanksgiving Butternut Squash Pasta Alfredo

This is a creamy, flavorful pasta sauce that vegans and omnivores and everyone in between can enjoy.

Linda Shiue, MD, Chef, author of Spicebox Kitchen

Serves: 8


2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage

2 lbs butternut squash, or 12 oz peeled, seeded and chopped butternut squash (3 cups)

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, pressed or chopped

2 tsp Salt, adjust to taste

Freshly ground black pepper

2 cups vegetable broth

1 cup raw cashews

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

½ tsp nutmeg

1/2 cup nutritional yeast

1 lb whole grain spaghetti or linguine


  1. Warm oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once the oil is shimmering, add the sage and toss to coat. Let the sage get crispy before transferring it to a small bowl. Sprinkle it lightly with salt and set aside.
  2. Add the squash, onion, and garlic to the skillet. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the broth, cashews, cayenne and nutmeg. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the squash is soft and the liquid is reduced by half, about 15 to 20 minutes.
  3. In the meantime, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta until al dente according to package directions, stirring occasionally. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water before draining.
  4. Once the squash mixture is done cooking, remove it from the heat and let it cool slightly. Transfer the contents of the pan to a blender. Add nutritional yeast. Purée the mixture until smooth (beware of hot steam escaping from the top of the blender), then adjust seasonings to taste. (You can also do this in the pan with an immersion blender.)
  5. In the reserved skillet, combine the pasta, squash purée and ¼ cup reserved pasta cooking water. Cook over medium heat, tossing and adding more pasta cooking water as needed, until the sauce coats the pasta, about 2 minutes. Season with more salt and pepper if necessary.
  6. Serve the pasta in individual bowls and garnish with fried sage.

Since Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, I have a lot of vegetable recipes on this site that would make excellent sides, or have All the Sides for an entree. Here is a roundup. Enjoy in good health!

And for a prep-ahead breakfast the next morning, try the recipe in the photo: