Queso is a Mexican-inspired appetizer or side dish that you may indulged in. The key word is "indulge," as it's thick and creamy melted cheese often made from a mixture of processed cheese, Monterey Jack, cream cheese and cream.
So, as you may guess, it's not exactly healthy. How can one create a vegan version with much better macros yet is still delicious? Welcome to our Butternut Squash Queso Fundido recipe.
The star of this vegan queso is butternut squash. The incredible nutritional value of butternut squash is difficult to overstate, and butternut squash calories are very low considering how filling it can be.
With over four times the recommended daily value of vitamin A in just one serving, over half the recommended intake of vitamin C, an impressive list of other vitamins and minerals, and loads of dietary fiber, this orange squash is a highly recommended ingredient for making any type of recipe, including vegan queso.
In fact, this butternut squash vegan queso offers 186 calories per serving, with 10 grams of protein, 11 grams of fat and 11 grams of carbs. Is that a perfectly balanced macronutrient snack or what?
Pair with cut up veggies, some tortilla chips or drizzle on top of a Mexican dish. You won't be disappointed!
How to Make Vegan Queso
Preheat the oven to 425° and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut the squash in half, remove the seeds and place cut-side down on the prepared pan. Bake until tender, 50 minutes to 1 hour. Turn over and let cool slightly.
Scoop out the squash and place in a high-speed blender. Add in salt and add in Bone Broth Protein Pure (remove if want only vegan ingredients); purée until smooth. Add in 1 tablespoon water at a time until fully blended.
(You can also buy butternut squash already diced and cubed. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt and pepper and roast at 425 for 30 minutes or until fork tender.)
While the squash is cooking, caramelize the onions. In a medium-sized skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Place onion in the pan and cook for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and cook for an additional 10 minutes, until onions are brown and translucent. Add in chili powder and chipotle chili powder to the onions and remove from heat.
Reduce the oven to 325. Coat an oven-grade skillet or cast iron pan with cooking spray.
Set aside 2 cups of butternut squash puree in a medium bowl. Add in ⅓ cup queso fresco, ⅓ cup mozzarella cheese, and ⅓ cup cheddar cheese to the squash puree.
In the prepared pan, spread half of the remaining cheese blend. Top with squash. Spread half of the caramelized onions over the squash, and then top with remaining cheese and onions.
Place the pan in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes, or until the cheese is melted.
Allow to cool for 10 minutes and top with pico de gallo and fresh cilantro.
Recipe developed by Holly Darnell, RD. Holly is a registered dietitian nutritionist who unlocked self-love at the intersection of exceptional food and practical solutions for healthy living. She’s passionate about helping others make simple, positive lifestyle changes on their individual path to healing.