I used to make a version of this type of casserole using tofu and nutritional yeast, but my friend Sarah found a recipe with cashews, which usually make the best cheese alternatives by far. She reports that her non-vegan husband and brother liked it better than the dairy mac she served at the same meal. Apparently it also freezes and re-heats extremely well. This has some vegetables incorporated, and Sarah thinks in the future she might add even more, such as diced tomatoes and zucchini. I used to put whole peas in my version and that was a tasty addition.
Here is the recipe, with my notes in brackets
- 1/2 medium potato, peeled and chopped (about 1/4-1/3 cup)
- 1/2 large carrot, peeled and chopped (about 1/2 cup)
- 1/2 small onion, peeled and chopped (about 1/4-1/3 cup)
- 1.5 cups raw cashews
- 1 cup unsweetened almond milk [has a strong flavor and you might want to use soymilk instead depending on your proclivities]
- 4 garlic cloves [this seems excessive to me]
- 6 tbsp fresh lemon juice [also seems like a lot]
- 3 tsp kosher salt [y'all know I never add salt to dishes either]
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 tsp mustard
- ~300-340 grams dry/uncooked Macaroni or other pasta [Original recipe recommends whole wheat pasta, which is the spawn of Satan and to be avoided]
- 1 slice bread [to make your own breadcrumbs if you're that type of person]
- 1 tbsp Earth Balance or butter
- Fresh or dried parsley, to garnish (optional)
- Paprika, to garnish
Directions: Preheat oven to 350F. Grab a small casserole dish and set aside. In a medium sized pot, add the chopped potatoes, carrots, and onion and fill with water until just covered. Bring to a boil and then reduce to low-medium heat. Cook for about 15 minutes until tender.
Meanwhile, process 1 slice of bread until crumbs form in a food processor. Add in 1 tbsp of Earth Balance (or butter) and process until incorporated. Place in a small bowl and set aside. [Really? Well, at least it's only one slice of bread]
Now assemble your cheese sauce ingredients (cashews, almond milk, garlic, lemon, salt, yeast, pepper, mustard) and add just the cashews to food processor. Process until a fine crumb forms similar to corn meal. Now add in the rest of the cheese sauce ingredients and process until smooth. [Oh, the garlic and lemon juice were for the cheese sauce? Now I definitely think they're too much. Add to taste]
Once the veggies are cooked, drain and add to cheese sauce mixture in food processor. Process until smooth.
Add your pasta to a medium sized pot and fill with water until the pasta is covered by about 1 inch or so. Bring to a boil and reduce to low, cooking for about 7 more minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water.
In a large bowl, mix together your cheese sauce and drained + rinsed pasta. Scoop into your casserole dish and sprinkle with the breadcrumb mixture. Now garnish with paprika and bake in the oven for 30 minutes at 350F. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley or dried parsley if you’d like.
Serves approx 4-6.
Note: This is a heavy and drier mac ‘n cheese. If you want it less dry, you might want to add some Earth Balance/butter or additional milk.