By Jennifer Provenza at Good Food From The Heart
Whole food plant based, Oil free, Sugar free, Gluten free
This tangy, creamy, dreamy whole food plant based mac and cheese is comfort food that will nourish your body as well as your heart. With no dairy or oil, it’s healthy as can be and even packs two servings of vegetables.
Yaaaas, Mac And Cheese!
One of the toughest things you originally think you have to “give up” when you start eating plant based is mac and cheese. But don’t worry, my friend, I’ve got you covered. Honestly, even if you still eat cheese, give this recipe a try because: 1. It’s healthy enough to eat any time and not just on special occasions and 2. It’s super delicious in its own right!
I have tried soooooo many vegan mac and cheese recipes and you know what? Most of them are okay. But often I find that they are somewhat lacking in flavor. However, I did the hard work for you and sifted through (and made) at least ten different vegan mac and cheese recipes and I took the best parts of the flavor profile from different recipes. Plus I added what sounded good to me. The result: The ultimate plant based mac and cheese that is not only dairy free but oil free. (Most of the plant based mac and cheese recipes still contain oil). You can’t go wrong with this recipe.
We have been really enjoying the beautiful California early summer weather. Last weekend we even made it to Lake Tahoe to celebrate C’s birthday with my parents. The water was so blue and the smell of pine needles was in the air. I feel so lucky to live within a few hours of so much natural beauty! Even at home, we like to take advantage of the weather and eat our dinner al fresco. This whole food plant based mac and cheese is a perfect meal to eat out at your picnic table. Of course, it wouldn’t be out of place at Thanksgiving either. Save this one to make year round.
Cashews: You will need cashews for this sauce. (If you are nut free, you might try using sunflower seeds. Let me know how it goes if you do.) Hint: You can save a lot of money by buying cashew pieces instead of whole cashews. And since you are blending them up anyway, who cares?
Yellow Potatoes: Yellow potatoes give you the perfect creamy texture you want for this recipe, but you can totally substitute other varieties if you prefer. You could even use sweet potato! (That will alter the flavor though.)
Diced Carrots: The carrots give you that color that makes this dish look like cheddar. Also, vitamins! And your kids will have no clue how many vegetables are hiding in here.
Garlic: Definitely use fresh garlic if possible and feel free to go crazy if you like it extra garlicky!
Nutritional Yeast: This adds to the yellow color and “cheesy” flavor. Make sure to include it. I like Bob’s Red Mill brand.
Miso Paste: This really adds to the tangy “cheesy” flavor, so don’t skip it!
Lemon Juice: Use fresh squeezed if possible. Again, this is a huge part of the flavor. You can substitute with apple cider vinegar if you prefer.
Dijon Mustard: The mustard really adds to the flavor too. Yum! Even if you think you or your kids don’t like mustard, add it anyway.
Salt: The salt really helps with the “cheesy” flavor too. You can adjust it to your liking, but I think at least a teaspoon is optimal for flavor.
Chickpea, brown rice, or whole wheat pasta: Use your favorite variety. I used Banza chickpea pasta. Chickpea or brown rice pasta will be gluten free.
Broccoli: I love this dish with steamed broccoli mixed in. It is reminiscent of broccoli cheddar soup. If you aren’t into broccoli, you could leave it out or substitute something else such as spinach.
Smoked Paprika: The smoked paprika adds such a wonderful smokey, tangy flavor to the finished dish. You will not regret buying this if you don’t have some already.
How To Make This Whole Food Plant Based Mac and Cheese
First of all, you will need a blender for this recipe. Preferably a high speed blender. If you don’t have one, no biggie, you will just have to soak the cashews first. You can soak in cold water for 8 hours or overnight. Or, if you are like me and could never possibly plan that far ahead, just boil some water and soak it in that for an hour. You can skip that step entirely if you have a high speed blender. Honestly, it is so worth the investment! I love the smooth soups, dressings, and sauces I make since I bought mine. I was able to get a refurbished one online for much much less than the normal price. But, I lasted for years without one, so if you have to soak the cashews, it will all be okay.
Once your cashews are soaking (or not), dice the carrots and potatoes and steam them. Personally, I just cover them and cook for five minutes in the microwave.
Okay, so take your (possibly pre soaked cashews) and add to the blender along with the steamed veggies and all the other sauce ingredients. Blend until completely smooth.
Put a large pot of water on the stove to boil and cook the pasta according to the directions on the box. While the pasta is cooking, steam the broccoli.
Once the pasta is al dente, drain and return to the pot. Over medium low heat, add the sauce and the steamed broccoli and mix to combine. Stir until the sauce is warmed through. Plate and top with smoked paprika. Serve. This recipe goes great with my Vanilla Bean and Rose Lemonade.
Whole Food Plant Based Mac and Cheese
- large cooking pot
- 1/2 cup cashews
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 1/2 cups diced yellow potato steamed
- 1/2 cup diced carrots steamed
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 1 tablespoon miso paste
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
- 8 ounces chickpea or whole wheat pasta shells
- 16 ounces broccoli florets
- a dash smoked paprika
- If you don't have a high speed blender, start by pouring a cup of boiling water over the cashews and soaking for an hour. Skip this step if you have a high speed blender, as you won't have a problem fully blending the cashews.
- Boil the water for the pasta.
- Peel the potatoes and carrots and chop and steam them until soft. I usually microwave, covered, for five minutes.
- To a blender, add the drained cashews, the potatoes, carrots, garlic, nutritional yeast, miso paste, lemon juice, dijon mustard, and salt. Blend at high speed until completely smooth.
- Cook the pasta according to the directions on the box. Meanwhile, steam or heat up your broccoli.
- Drain the pasta and top with the cheese sauce and the broccoli. Stir to combine. Plate the mac and cheese and top with a generous dash of smoked paprika.
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