Very dear to my heart, this was my inaugural recipe for my column, Veganize It! in VegNews Magazine. I intentionally created it without tofu and nutritional yeast, both of which are commonly found in vegan recipes for mac ‘n cheese. Feel free to make it gluten-free with brown rice pasta and gf breadcrumbs. Our guest blogger and Super Fan, Jessica, took it upon herself to try this recipe and send us photos. (We hope you’ll do the same with one of my other recipes… hint, hint.)
When I first saw this recipe I was quite skeptical. How could a bunch of veggies and cashews live up to the creamy decadence of America’s favorite comfort food? Most vegan mac and cheese dishes use soy cheese or nutritional yeast to give the dish a more authentic and cheesy flavor, but this recipe had neither of those. Was I supposed to believe that blending potatoes, carrots, onions and cashews was going to create anything remotely similar to a cheese sauce?
Throwing my misconceptions out the door, I decided to make this hearty baked macaroni and “cheese.” All I can say is, stop what you are doing and make this now! This mac and cheese is so incredibly creamy and delicious, you will not believe it. Don’t let the long ingredient list scare you away, the dish comes together surprisingly fast once you have cut everything up. The extra effort is well worth it, trust me!
Baked Mac ‘n’ Cheese
Ingredients for the pasta:
4 quarts water
1 tablespoon sea salt
8 ounces macaroni
For the breadcrumbs:
4 slices of bread, torn into large pieces
2 tablespoons non-hydrogenated margarine
For the cheese sauce:
2 tablespoons shallots, peeled and chopped
1 cup red or yellow potatoes, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup carrots, peeled and chopped
1/3 cup onion, peeled and chopped
1 cup water
1/4 cup raw cashews
2 teaspoons sea salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic, minced
1/3 cup non-hydrogenated margarine
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1. For the pasta, in a large pot, bring the water and salt to a boil. Add macaroni and cook until al dente. In a colander, drain pasta and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
2. In a food processor, make breadcrumbs by pulverizing the bread and 2 tablespoons margarine to a fine texture. Set aside.
3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a saucepan, add shallots, potatoes, carrots, onion, and water, and bring to a boil. Cover the pan and simmer for 15 minutes, or until vegetables are very soft.
4. In a blender, process the cashews, salt, garlic, 1/3 cup margarine, mustard, lemon juice, black pepper, and cayenne. Add softened vegetables and cooking water to the blender and process until perfectly smooth.
5. In a large bowl, toss the cooked pasta and blended cheese sauce until completely coated. Spread mixture into a 9″ x 12″ casserole dish, sprinkle with prepared breadcrumbs, and dust with paprika. Bake for 30 minutes or until the cheese sauce is bubbling and the top has turned golden brown.
I love seeing so many fresh, healthy ingredients coming together to make something that is completely decadent and delicious. This dish would be the perfect thing to bring to a potluck or holiday dinner party. I hope you’ll try it!