Meatless Mondays: Vegan Mac ‘n Cheese

Vegan Macaroni and Cheese

I’ve been a practicing vegan since February of 2011.  And when I say practicing, I mean just that: sometimes a coworker brings baked goodies in that have butter or a splash of milk in them and, always eager to try new things, I give in and partake.  But, on my own, I’ve eschewed meat and dairy nearly altogether.

Allow me to pat myself on the back for a just a second, because it hasn’t been easy.  A life without meat, fine.  Without milk?  That’s okay, too.  But cheese?  Glorious, exquisite cheese on a platter with wine and bread, warm and thick on a black bean burger, or poured and oozing over a bed of noodles?  Well, all right.  I’ll do my best.  But I won’t pretend I didn’t miss it!

And now, thanks to this cooking miracle from Bitter Sweet, I don’t!  Not even one bit!  This vegan macaroni and cheese tastes so amazingly close to the real thing that I can barely keep my fingers out of the blender once the sauce is finished.  Every time I make it, it tastes better, too.

Vegan Mac 'n Cheese

Vegan Macaroni and Cheese
Adapted from Bitter Sweet.

1 cup peeled and diced Yukon Gold potatoes
1/4 cup shredded carrot
1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
1 clove of garlic, thinly sliced
1 cup of water
1/4 cup of raw cashews
1/4 cup of Nutritional Yeast
2 teaspoons of Real salt
1/4 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
2 teaspoons of lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon Smoked Paprika
1/8 teaspoon Tumeric (optional, for color)
1 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk *
1/3 cup neutral-flavored oil, such as Canola
1 pound twisty pasta, cooked **

* I used soy milk here hoping the extra bit of fat it has versus almond milk would make it thicker.  Delicious!
** My new favorite pasta is Tinkyada Rice Pasta, which I can pick up at any health food store in the area.  It fooled my co-workers into believing it was white pasta!

First thing’s first: Get the water boiling for the pasta.  If every thing is timed properly, by the time the sauce is blended you should be able to pour it over just-finished noodles.  There’s nothing worse than a bunch of naked pasta.

Place the cut potatoes, carrots, onion, and garlic in a small sauce pan, and pour in the water. Set over medium heat on the stove and bring to a boil. Once the water boils, cover the pot, turn down the heat to medium-low and let simmer for 15 minutes, until the potatoes are extremely tender. (Watch it, though!  I let mine burn a little accidentally the second time I made it.  Didn’t ruin the sauce, but scrubbing the pan was a pain.)

Place the cashews, nutritional yeast, salt, mustard, lemon juice, paprika, and tumeric (if using) in your blender.  Give these ingredients a light pulse just to begin breaking down the cashews slightly. (Five years ago I got a VitaMix at a state fair.  After a few failed attempts at making soup and ice cream in it, I stashed it in a cupboard.  Now it’s making up for lost time with this recipe.)

When the vegetables on the stove are fully cooked and ready, pour them into your blender along with all of the cooking water. Add in 3/4 cup of the non-dairy milk and turn on the blender to its highest setting. Thoroughly puree the mixture until completely smooth and lump-free. If you’re using a blender that doesn’t reverse the Earth’s natural spin, this could take almost 10 minutes. With the motor still running, slowly drizzle in the oil, to allow it to properly emulsify. Check the consistency; if you like your sauce a bit thinner blend in the remaining 1/4 of non-dairy milk.

Pour the sauce over your cooked noodles and serve immediately.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

It’s even good the next day!  You can do like I do and make an entire batch for myself, freeze some and put the rest into containers for work lunches.

Or you can eat too much that night and roll around on the couch in a blissful mock-cheese food coma.

I also do that.

Meatless Mondays will return every Monday with a new vegetarian/vegan dish.  See you then!

5 thoughts on “Meatless Mondays: Vegan Mac ‘n Cheese

  1. Oh man, that looks delicious 😀

    Have you tried making adding broccoli to this to make your yummy cheese and broccoli pasta?

    • That’s a great idea! I just got home from the market and totally forgot your suggestion, so I’ll have asparagus to go with it again this week if I make it. Though, veggie calzones are on the horizon!

      • Calzones are the best! There’s a nice Italian place in Michigan I go to and they make a really nice one. We made them afterward and they were just as good, but when I made them again when I got back to Australia, they didn’t turn out so nice.

        Would it be vegan or vegeterian? ‘Cuz we found out the cheese type is pretty crucial (Kraft Italian cheese mix)!

  2. Ok ok ok….you’ve got me. I must admit this looks wonderful every time I see you reheating this at lunch and I see your eyes roll into the back of your head when you eat it, but I’ve been scarred by the pumpkin macaroni and cheese I made that was the grossest thing in the world! Now that I’ve read the recipe and seen the ingredients…I’m interested. I’m going to make some of this! Or perhaps request a taste next time if you can part with one LOL 🙂 Looks really good. I think you should put some chicken in it though. 😉

    • No chicken for me. 😉 But try it out and tell me what you think!

      And of course you can try some, Steph. But you should know that it isn’t as good as when you first make it — all fresh and gooey. Mmmm.

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