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Mac and cheese no longer has to be off the menu if you don't do dairy. A blend of hearty cauliflower, butternut squash, cashews and nutritional yeast gives this vegan macaroni and cheese the gooey, cheesy texture and flavor of traditional mac, without a bit of dairy!

Source: EatingWell.com, March 2019

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Read the full recipe after the video.
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When you're craving comfort food, sometimes only mac & cheese will do. The good news is that you can make a healthy and satisfying macaroni and "cheese" without any cheese or other dairy products. Our knock-out Vegan Mac & Cheese recipe relies on a blend of vegetables, nuts and seasonings such as nutritional yeast to create a rich and creamy sauce that's full of flavor. We're also sharing tips to help you save time and cut down on dirty dishes-because it's not really comfort food if it's a hassle to make!

Tips for Making Vegan Mac & Cheese

Breana Killeen making Vegan Mac & Cheese

1. Swap Out the Dairy for Nuts and Vegetables

Instead of the traditional cheese and milk or cream called for in traditional mac & cheese recipes, our vegan mac & cheese calls for a blend of cauliflower, butternut squash, cashews and seasonings such as garlic powder and nutritional yeast to create a sauce with that classic gooey texture and cheesy flavor you expect.

2. Slash Cooking Time and Dirty Dishes

I don't like doing dishes and I don't like being wasteful, and our vegan mac & cheese reflects that "laziness." For example, instead of soaking the cashews overnight-the first step in many sauce recipes in which cashews are used-we boil the cashews for just 15 minutes. And the cashews are boiled right along with the squash and cauliflower, saving pans and time. Then that same pot is used to cook the pasta and to combine the pasta and sauce. A win-win-win.

3. Blend Up a Flavorful Sauce

Once the vegetables and cashews are softened, they're blended with an array of flavor boosters, including no-chicken broth (my favorite vegan broth staple), nutritional yeast (which adds a cheesy Parmesan-like flavor without dairy), Dijon mustard, cider vinegar (for a little acidity), garlic powder, onion powder and a bit of salt. Simply puree until smooth. Tip: If you have a high-speed blender, use it for the silkiest sauce.

4. Top It, Bake It, Serve and Enjoy!

After you combine the sauce and pasta, transfer the mixture to a baking dish and top with a mixture of whole-wheat breadcrumbs, parsley and olive oil. Then bake until the casserole is bubbly, hot and crispy on top.

Check Your Wallet: Traditional Mac & Cheese vs. Vegan Mac & Cheese

For a look at the difference in price between traditional mac & cheese and vegan mac & cheese, we turned to Dustin Harder, aka the Vegan Roadie (@theveganroadie). Harder points out that the nuts and vegetables in the vegan mac & cheese actually make it cost about 15 cents more per serving than traditional mac & cheese. But when you factor in the vegetable servings you're getting with the vegan mac & cheese, that seems like a pretty fair trade.

Environmental Impact: Traditional Mac & Cheese vs. Vegan Mac & Cheese

In terms of the environmental impact, vegan mac & cheese has the edge over traditional mac & cheese, according to Harder. "Dairy actually has a bigger environmental impact than poultry or pork, when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions per gram of protein," Harder explains. "So by swapping dairy for cauliflower, butternut squash and cashews you're doing your part to help save the planet!"

Nutritional Comparison: Traditional Mac & Cheese vs. Vegan Mac & Cheese

Compared to a typical serving of mac & cheese at a restaurant, our vegan recipe saves you 600 calories, 33 grams of saturated fat and 1,500 mg of sodium! However, since cheese and dairy are good sources of protein, the traditional version of mac & cheese does have about 20 more grams of protein than the vegan version.

Mac & cheese is delicious served alongside a salad or garlicky green beans—or eaten straight out of the pan.

Breana Killeen scooping Vegan Mac & Cheese out of dish

Ingredients

Ingredient Checklist

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Put a large pot of water on to boil.

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  • Combine breadcrumbs, parsley and oil in a small bowl. Set aside.

  • Add cauliflower, squash and cashews to the boiling water; cook, stirring occasionally, until the cauliflower is very tender, about 15 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cauliflower, squash and cashews to a blender.

  • Add pasta to the boiling water and cook according to package directions, stirring occasionally. Drain and return to the pot.

  • Add broth, nutritional yeast, mustard, vinegar, garlic powder, onion powder and salt to the blender; puree until smooth. Add the sauce to the pasta and stir until well coated. Transfer to an 8-inch baking dish and top with the reserved breadcrumb mixture.

  • Bake until heated through, 20 to 25 minutes.

Tips

To make ahead: Prepare through Step 5. Refrigerate for up to 2 days or freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator, if necessary, then bake for 35 to 45 minutes.

Nutrition Facts

1 cup
342 calories; protein 12.9g; carbohydrates 48.1g; dietary fiber 7.7g; sugars 3.4g; fat 13g; saturated fat 2.1g; vitamin a iu 3375.4IU; vitamin c 18.5mg; folate 49mcg; calcium 42.6mg; iron 3.8mg; magnesium 125.3mg; potassium 462.1mg; sodium 449.3mg; thiamin 1.9mg.

2 1/2 fat, 2 1/2 starch, 1/2 vegetable

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