Do you struggle some days to consume more vegetables, or find yourself a slave to the whims of a picky eater? Are you worried that, after days of refusing to consume anything wasn’t associated with their favorite cartoon character, your child will develop scurvy and child services will totally blame you? What if I told you that, armed with this Vegan Mac and Cheese recipe you can have the best of both worlds – delicious, creamy comfort food AND a nice serving of vegetables (that doesn’t taste like a serving of vegetables?) It looks like “normal” mac and cheese when complete, hence, I’d recommend not even telling them about the vegetables. Just let them munch in blissful ignorance.
This macaroni was the answer to an evening where once again I found myself unwilling to go the store, but also unwilling to stuff my face with nutrition-less garbage food. Not going to the store or ordering takeout food was possible because I keep my pantry stocked with items that make last minute cooking way easier. I’ve done all the hard parts and organized it for you in a full list and a free printable you can take to the store with you.
Most of us have probably had the blue boxed mac and cheese. In high school or college, you may have “upgraded” to the little individual mac and cheese bowls that you could pop in the microwave, because they were easy and they were a dollar **raises hand**. I loved those things. But I gotta tell ya’, this vegan mac and cheese recipe is better. Some might balk at whether a dairy free, vegetable-based pasta sauce can really taste cheesy, but sadly, those microwaveable mac and cheese bowls we consumed as we plowed through long study sessions really didn’t have anything that qualified as ‘real cheese’ in them either. What they did have was a lot of dried, refined ingredients and a lot of chemicals to make them shelf stable. You’ve evolved as a human since then.
Trust GH, and cook a big batch of this delectable, creamy vegan mac and cheese. It makes multiple servings, so you can still have fast, microwaveable cheesy goodness at your fingertips.
Another A.I.F. recipe, this vegan macaroni and cheese gets bonus points because it is oil-free, does not require specialty ingredients like store-bought vegan “cheese” substitutes, and packs a nutrient dense one-two punch of fresh vegetables and whole wheat.
- 16 ounces dry whole wheat macaroni
- ½ large sweet potato, roughly chopped
- 3 whole carrots, chopped
- 2 small onions, roughly chopped
- 1 cup water reserved from boiled vegetable pot
- ½ cup unsalted cashews
- ½ cup light coconut milk
- 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
- ¼ tsp smoked paprika, plus more for sprinkling
- Chop and measure out all your veggies and spices. I prefer to do these steps before I ever turn on a burner – It makes the rest of your cooking pretty stress-free.
- Put a large pot on the stove and add 4 quarts of water. Put a medium pot for the veggies on another burner. Place vegetables in the pot, and then fill with water until covered until there’s about an inch of water over the veggies (for me, this took about 4 cups of water).
- Bring both pots to a boil. Once boiling, add pasta to large pot. Cook pasta uncovered for 6 minutes, or until al dente, then remove from heat and drain in a colander. Allow vegetables to boil for about 4 more minutes. They should be fork tender. Remove from heat.
- Spoon your veggies out of the broth, and measure out about 1 cup of the liquid from the pot. Let cool for about 5 minutes.
- Allow to cool enough to handle, then add the vegetables, the reserved 1 cup of veggie water, all spices, the coconut milk, lemon juice, and cashews to your blender, then blend until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.
- Pour your macaroni into a large casserole dish, add your sauce, and mix.
- Sprinkle with smoked paprika for an extra burst of flavor and color.
Step by Step Instructions for Creamiest Vegan Mac and Cheese
Measure out all your ingredients, and chop up all your vegetables. I like to do this part first, before I ever turn on a stove. Here’s what happens when I skip prepping: something burns, something boils over, I curse like a sailor and threaten my now-blackened skillet’s ancestors.
Yes, it takes longer to do it this way. If you can multi-task better than I can, feel free to chop things while other things are cooking.
Alrighty- Put a large pot on the stove, and fill with 4 quarts of water. At the same time, place a medium pot on the stove and fill with about 4 cups of water, then add your vegetables. Bring both pots to a boil.
Note: I added just a pinch of salt to my pasta water – the package instructions called for 4 whole tablespoons which sounds like hypertension just waiting to happen. To keep this dish’s sodium under control, I adjusted.
Once the water comes to a boil, add your pasta, and let it cook uncovered for 6 minutes until al dente, which is fancy Italian-speak for “it could cook a little longer but it’s edible”. Once the pasta is cooked, remove it from the heat and drain it into a colander. Continue to let the vegetables cook for about another 4 minutes, or until fork-tender. Turn off the heat, spoon the vegetables into a bowl and reserve about 1 cup of the vegetable water.
Once cooled enough to work with, add the vegetables, the reserved 1 cup of veggie water, all spices, the coconut milk, lemon juice, and cashews to your blender, then blend until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.
I have a Vitamix blender – which makes so many things so much easier. If you have a less powerful blender, you may wish to let the cashews soak in some water for a few minutes while you prep the rest of the recipe, then drain and add to the blender.
Pour your macaroni into a large casserole dish, add your sauce, and mix.