Let’s get one thing straight: I’m not vegan. And while I sure have tried a lot of “diet’s” and eating styles over the years, vegan is not one! Vegetarian yes; pescatarian, yes. But abstaining from anything relating to animals was just too strict for me, personally, though I absolutely respect those who do it.
My eldest daughter and I are both dairy-free; I’m lactose intolerant, and she avoids it because of her acne. (She would die if she knew I mentioned that, though). I wanted to create a pasta dish for her that resembled cheese, and I’m excited to say that it was a hit with even those in my family who can do dairy. This truly is the easiest vegan mac & cheese, and (bonus!): it’s gluten- and dairy-free.
I’m not gonna lie; this is not exactly cheese sauce. Like it’s not stringy and all that. But it is super creamy and moist, and if you use some good gluten-free noodles, I’m pretty sure you’re gonna like the creation. Oh and btw, don’t skip those greens. It’s a great way to get an all-in-one meal – not that you can’t add additional veggies on the side, but why not up your intake?!
About The Easiest Vegan Mac & Cheese
- You’ll notice that the cashews need to be soaked. If you don’t have time to soak them, pour boiling water over them and drain before adding them to your blender, but I do suggest soaking for a minimum of 2 hours.
- It’s important to get organic cashews if you can, as some of the non-organics are said to have a potentially dangerous pesticide.
- You can make the cheese sauce ahead of time and keep it in the fridge for a day or two prior to using.
- A high-speed blender is ideal for making this recipe. If the sauce is too thick, add little bits of water at a time to get the consistency you like.
- Nutritional yeast gives this the “cheese-” like flavor. Feel free to add more if you’d like; my kids liked the quantity in the recipe best, but you may prefer it to be cheesier. Whatever you do, don’t skip this ingredient!
- If you don’t need this to be gluten-free, make it with regular whole-wheat noodles!
- Feel free to vary your greens. Spinach, mixed greens, etc. all work great.
Blend soaked and drained cashews, lemon juice, water, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, onion powder and salt in a high-powered blender (such as a Vitamix(R)), scraping down sides with a spatula until completely smooth. Season with additional salt and pepper as desired.
Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions. Put greens at the bottom of a medium-sized bowl. Drain pasta when cooked and transfer cooked pasta to bowl on top of greens. Mix to combine; the heat will begin to wilt the greens.
Add sauce on top of the cooked pasta, reserving about 1/4 cup of the sauce to add to the top at the end. Mix sauce, pasta and greens, and transfer to a serving dish (or simply leave it in the bowl) and top with remaining sauce. Serve immediately.
This dish really is best enjoyed right after being cooked. As much as we like leftovers – word from the family is it’s best fresh. Let me know if you try this and like it!
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