Welcome to my new favourite healthy weeknight meal. Yes, macaroni and cheese really can be made healthy and still taste just as good as it's boxed counterpart. All you need to do is make this simple creamy vegan cheese sauce that's dairy-free, soy-free, and packed with loads of nutritional bonuses. Like nutritional yeast. It's full of vitamins B6 + B12, Thiamin, and Riboflavin. Plus it packs an excellent boost of protein and fiber. Just 2 tablespoons has 8g of protein and 4 grams of fiber.
Finger. Licking. Good.
Now this doesn't taste like real cheese but it's pretty darn tasty if I do say so. The sauce is made up of a handful of ingredients that starts out with sautéed onions and garlic for the ultimate flavour boost. I found that adding sautéed onions and garlic deepened the flavour of the "cheese" sauce in a wonderful way. It was so tasty!
Next up we toss the onions and garlic into a high-speed blender and add nutritional yeast, soaked cashews, tomato paste, smoked paprika, turmeric and a small handful of other ingredients. I don't think it's necessary but if you prefer you can use unsweetened almond milk in place of water in the sauce.
Oh cashew-vegan cheeze sauce how I love you. This sauce cannot only be added to macaroni but many other things as well. Try adding it to:
- Mashed potatoes (russets, yukon, red, etc.)
- Quinoa and rice dishes
- Veggies of all kinds including steamed or roasted (broccoli, cauliflower and green beans are excellent!)
There are many options!
The sauce makes enough for about 4 generous servings of pasta (I used brown rice elbow macaroni).
Now I'm not going to tell you this is a recipe for old-fashioned mac n'cheese, because it's definitely not that. What I can tell you is that it's absolutely delicious and just as comforting. Besides you could totally serve this to a non-vegan and they'd love it! It's so satisfying you may even convert them over.
Vegan Mac & Cheese
Ingredients (Serves 4)
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 cup raw cashews, soaked 3 to 4 hours, preferably overnight, and drained
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ cup + 2 tablespoons water
- ½ cup nutritional yeast
- 2 teaspoons turmeric
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
- Pinch of sea salt
- 12 ounces macaroni or small shell pasta (gluten-free if needed)
- Fresh thyme or red pepper flakes (to garnish)
- roasted broccoli, sauteed mushrooms, spinach, or peas
In a skillet, heat olive oil over medium-low heat. Add onions and sauté until translucent (about 5 minutes). Add garlic and cook for a few more minutes on low.
In a high speed blender, puree the sautéed onions and garlic with the cashews, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, tomato paste, paprika, water, nutritional yeast, turmeric, a pinch of cayenne, and a pinch of salt. Makes about 2 1/4 cups of sauce.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Prepare the pasta according to the instructions on the package, cooking until al dente. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water. Drain and return the pasta to the pot. Stir in the sauce, adding the pasta water as needed to thin the sauce and make it creamy. If you're adding any roasted or sauteed veggies, this would be the time to do it.
Serve hot garnished with fresh thyme or a pinch of red pepper flakes.