Mac and cheese is my ultimate no-brakes food. I’m not even picky: I can easily house an entire box of Kraft, but I prefer something that’s made with a little more care. I love this one, this one, and, most of all, this one.
There are several road blocks to my one true foodlove, though. First and foremost, my one true humanlove, my husband Grant, is allergic to dairy. While I’m not above waiting until he’s out of town and eating mac and cheese for every meal until he returns, he doesn’t travel without me quite enough for that solution to fill the macaroni-shaped hole in my heart.
Mac and cheese also doesn’t really fit into my regular healthy-eating plan. I’m more than willing to splurge on good-quality macaroni upon occasion, but finding a lighter solution to my craving was crucial to my continued happiness.
The answer to both of these issues is vegan macaroni and cheese. It’s just as cozy, more nutritious, and tastes similar to the real thing. I’m not trying to sell you on this recipe tasting just like your mama’s macaroni, because it doesn’t. BUT, it has a similar taste, a near-identical consistency, and the creamy mouthfeel is the same. (How gross is the word mouthfeel, btw?)
This is my riff on several vegan macs I’ve tried and loved. I added canned pumpkin for added vitamins and fiber and also for some Autumn vibes. (I almost called this Harvest Mac with Roasted Garlic, but that seemed a little too… lame?) The roasted garlic makes it super savory and yummy, and nutritional yeast brings the cheesy flavor. If you’ve never cooked with nutritional yeast (or “nooch”) before, it’s a vegan seasoning that adds a cheesy flavor to anything. I buy mine in bulk from the Hyvee Health Market, but it’s available at most health food stores and on Amazon. Top this mac with red pepper flakes and serve with something green on the side.
VEGAN PUMPKIN MAC WITH ROASTED GARLIC
Cloves from 1 head of roasted garlic (slice top off the head to expose cloves, drizzle with olive oil, wrap in tinfoil, and bake at 375 for 30-45 mins, depending on size of cloves. It’s done when your kitchen smells like an Italian restaurant and the cloves are soft like butter)
4 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp flour
2 c cashew milk
1 c canned pumpkin
½ c nutritional yeast (more to taste)
Salt and pepper
12 oz macaroni (this amount of pasta results in a lot of sauce, perfect to stir in veggies of your choice!)
- Bring water to boil, prepare pasta to desired consistency. Drain and reserve when ready.
- Heat oil in large skillet (I use my cast iron) over medium. Once heated, sprinkle in flour slowly, whisking the whole time. This will create a paste, called a roux. Cook the roux, whisking constantly, for 1-2 minutes.
- Stream cashew milk in, whisking constantly to ensure no lumps (if there’s a lump or two, it’ll get blended out in a bit). Allow to bubble over medium-low heat for a few minutes, whisking near constantly, until thickened. (It should coat the back of a spoon.)
- Once thickened, add sauce to blender with pumpkin, all of the garlic cloves, nutritional yeast, and salt and pepper. Blend on high until very smooth.
- Taste for seasoning (don’t be afraid to add lots of salt and nutritional yeast. It should taste cheesy and well-salted). Add back to skillet, and allow to bubble over medium-low for 2 minutes or so.
- Fold in pasta, top with red pepper flakes, and enjoy!
Inspired by this recipe from Minimalist Baker, the first vegan macaroni and cheese I ever made.
For the Brussels, trim and halve Brussels sprouts, toss with salt, pepper, and olive oil, and roast at 425 for 12 minutes, stirring halfway through.