Delicious and Nutritious Mac n’ “Cheese”

One of our very favorite meals, which makes fantastic leftovers, is our vegan Mac n’ “Cheese.” I will also add that we have made this for non-vegans and vegans alike and everyone has LOVED it! It’s healthy, filling, easy to make, and completely delicious. Every time I bring this to work for lunch (and I mean EVERY TIME), I hear “that looks so good” or “that smells delicious.” I have played around with this recipe for a while and tweaked it using different spices, ingredient amounts, pastas, and fix-ins. Now I am ready to share it will all of you!

 

Here’s what you will need (required ingredients are in bold):

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  • 1-2 bags pasta of your choice

Before I had to go gluten free, we used these amazing whole wheat shells that work great with this recipe.  One bag is perfect for the amount of sauce, although it’s possible you may have a little sauce left.

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Now that I am gluten free we use a couple different variety of gf pastas. One that I love and that is very inexpensive is Trader Joes’ Brown Rice and Quinoa blend. They also have a brown rice pasta that is very similar and even less expensive. When using this pasta, you need about a bag and a half in order to use up all of your sauce.

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  • About 2 heads of broccoli, or 1 bag of pre-chopped broccoli (optional)

You could also roast cauliflower in addition to broccoli or in place of. Sometimes I like to put pea sprouts in our mac n’ cheese as well, but these can be harder to find.

For the sauce you will need:

  • 3 cups cashews
  • 1 and 3/4 cup water
  • 2 tsp red wine vinegar (optional)
  • 1 T chickpea miso (optional)
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • A couple of dashes of cayenne
  • 4 T lemon juice
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 T minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 2 T mustard

Finally, we like to add a little spice and texture to this dish by throwing in a vegan protein. We have used vegan “sausage” in the past, but more recently we have been using Trader Joes’ vegan “chorizo,” which works great in this dish!

  • 1/2 package of Trader Joes’ vegan “chorizo” or any other vegan meat substitute (optional)

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Directions:

  • If you want to add roasted broccoli or cauliflower to your mac n’ cheese, heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Follow the directions on your pasta bag and begin preparing the pasta before starting the sauce.
  • Once the oven is ready, let the broccoli roast for about 15-20 minutes depending on how crispy you want it. I don’t put any oil on the broccoli, sometimes I put a little bit of garlic salt, but you don’t need it.
  • Begin making the sauce by adding all the ingredients together in a food processor or high powered blender and blending on a medium-high speed until smooth (this will probably take 5-10 minutes until it is all the way smooth). Taste to make sure the texture is not gritty. Once smooth, your sauce is ready to go! If you do NOT have a high powered blender or food processor, you may still be able to make the sauce by soaking the cashews for about 3 hours in water beforehand. I cannot vouch for how this will turn out since we have a Vitamix, but soaking the cashews will help your blender smooth out the sauce. When complete the sauce should look just like this:

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  • When the broccoli and/or cauliflower is crispy and browning on the edges, remove from the oven
  • If using vegan meat substitute, follow directions on package. For the “chorizo” we simply place in the oven while it cools off after removing the broccoli and let it cook while we are preparing the bowls.
  • Follow instructions on pasta for rinsing, and divide pasta into 6 servings. We only eat for two, so we use the other 4 for leftovers (yum!)
  • Pour the sauce over the pasta and top it with your roasted broccoli and/or cauliflower and vegan meat substitute.
  • Enjoy! Take pictures and post them in the comments and let me know how you enjoyed this dish.

 

 

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