Are you drooling yet for this creamy and comforting vegan pasta dish? Dairy Free Mac and Cheese is a staple in this home. Even my cheese-loving husband is a big fan. This cheese sauce is the perfect consistency and is flavour packed. And it’s totally optional (but I highly recommend) loading it up with hot sauce and ketchup. She’s the real deal, friends. This dish is so easy to make it will have you cheesin’ real hard.
how do you top your vegan gluten free mac and cheese?
I’m all about toppings on a dish, and this vegan mac and cheese is no different. I add a plethora of Franks Hot Sauce while Adam looks on with shock and disgust but we both are ketchup fans. This dish is also amazing with crispy kale and some green onion scattered all over. Although most of the cooking is done on the stovetop, in the last few minutes you use the oven to broil the top of the dish. This makes the top a little crispy (in a good way) and the cheesiness extra stringy!
Let’s just say, it’s not always smooth sailing in the kitchen…
The first time I was testing this recipe it didn’t go as planned. It was one of those days where you are pretty bagged and aren’t thinking straight. Anyways, Adam saw boiled carrots sitting on the stovetop and thought that was pretty weird. But I don’t always like to tell him exactly what I’m making/putting in a recipe until he’s tried it. So he has an opened mind. He comes by the title of Picky Husband pretty honestly.
But the thing about Adam is that he is curious. And if you refuse to answer him, he’ll just keep asking questions. So I was trying to skirt around the topic as I was adding the cashews, carrots, and other ingredients into the blender. I went to pour the dried pasta noodles in a pot of boiling water and instead I dumped it right in the blender with the other ingredients.
Needless to say, separating the noodles from the cashews and carrots and draining away the almond milk didn’t really appeal to me that night. So we ditched the idea of having vegan gluten free mac and cheese, and I think we ended up having avocado toast for dinner. Let’s just say the second test run went a lot smoother.
Here are a few reasons why I love this dairy free mac and cheese, so listen up!
- Once the cashews are soaked and the carrots cooked, this easy vegan mac and cheese only takes 20 minutes to make. That’s it. Talk about weeknight goals.
- It’s great as leftovers. This recipe results in roughly 4 portions, but if you are a household of less, it’s awesome as the next day’s lunch, just reheat and enjoy.
- This pasta dish is actually loaded with veg. Those secret carrots in the sauce, topped with kale and green onion. This is no ordinary mac and cheese and that’s a good thing!
- With summer meals behind us now, gearing up for the fall and winter I always crave more comforting foods. And this sure is one for the books. I love that this pasta is full of nutritional yeast in the cheese sauce as well as in the vegan parmesan. Nutritional yeast is loaded with antioxidants and adds some extra protein to dishes, which is great for us vegetarians.
Well friends, there you have it. Now you know recipe testing isn’t all butterflies and rainbows, and my kitchen usually is a mess while testing. And you’ve once again understood why Adam is the Picky Husband. But you also now have a wickedly awesome new weeknight meal to try out. See, isn’t it good I persevered after I dumped all the dried noodles into the blender!? Now you know the amount of love and labour that went into this dairy free macaroni and cheese, and friends, it was totally worth it.
dairy free mac and cheese
- 1/2 cup raw cashews (soaked in boiled water for 30 minutes or in a bowl of room temperature water overnight)
- 2 medium carrots (boiled or steamed before)
- 3 cloves garlic
- 3 tbsp avocado oil
- 1 1/2 cups plantbased milk
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp turmeric (for colouring)
- 6 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 3 tbsp arrowroot powder
- salt and pepper to taste
- 3 cups pasta of choice ( I used brown rice penne)
- water to boil pasta in (I fill a medium pot 1/2-3/4 of the way up)
- 1/2 cup bread crumbs (gluten free if needed)
- 1/4-1/2 cup vegan parmesean (see notes)
- 1-2 cups kale
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
- green onion
- Soak the cashews overnight in a bowl of water. Or soak for 30 minutes in boiled water.
- Steam or boil 2 chopped carrots until they are soft.
- Drain the water from the cashews and add the cashews to a high-speed blender. Add the carrots, oil, garlic, milk, garlic powder, turmeric, nutritional yeast, salt and pepper and the arrowroot powder. Blend until smooth. Note: if you are adding everything to the blender and then letting it sit the arrowroot powder might clump, so I suggest blending it right away or waiting to add the arrowroot powder last until you are ready to blend.
- Bring water in a medium pot to a boil. Add desired pasta and cook for the appropriate amount of time, (until the pasta is al dente).
- While the pasta is cooking, chop the kale finely and massage it in a bowl with 1 tsp of oil for 5 minutes. Kale should look greener. Heat a small saucepan on the stove over medium heat. Once heated, add the kale along with sea salt and 1/4 tsp of red pepper flakes. Toss the kale quite regularly so the leaves are evenly toasted. Kale should be crispy but not brown. Takes roughly 5- 10 minutes. Set aside.
- Add your blended sauce to a heated cast iron pan over medium heat. It will begin to thicken. Once it begins to thicken turn heat to low. Whisk constantly and watch it closely or it will catch on the bottom. If your sauce thickens too quickly add 1/4-1/2 cup more of plant-based milk to the sauce and whisk it in. You want the sauce to have a cheese sauce consistency.
- Drain your pasta noodles and add to the pan with the sauce. Fold the pasta into the sauce so it is evenly coated.
- Turn your oven to the broil setting. Let the oven heat up. Sprinkle vegan parmesan and bread crumbs over top of the pasta. Place in the oven for 2-5 minutes (depending on the heat of your broil setting). Make sure you keep an eye on the pasta. Remove once the top is golden brown.
- Top the pasta with the crispy kale and green onion. I enjoy my mac and cheese with a little Franks Red Hot Sauce and Ketchup.
- 1/2 cup cashews
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast
- ¼ tsp garlic powder
- Pulse ingredients altogether in a food processor until a fine meal forms (consistency of parmesan).