September 14, 2014 By This Vegan Girl
When I first became vegan, I tried to substitute a lot of food I was previously addicted to (namely cheese). I bought all the fake cheeses at the store, and almost every single one disappointed me. I tried to substitute the taste I missed so much.
Here I am, a year and a half later, and I don’t have those cravings anymore. I guess you can say I’ve weaned myself off of my former addiction to cheese. Although I make cashew cheese now (my latest obsession), I’ve accepted that they are two different tastes. In fact, I love the way my cashew cheese tastes, and I feel good about the benefits.
This recipe is an upgrade from my last macaroni and cheese entry, which I deemed to be “The Best Vegan Macaroni and Cheese.” No, lol. Just no. It was not the best macaroni and cheese. I know this now because THIS is the best macaroni and cheese.
Here is a picture of my former macaroni and cheese, including a list of why it wasn’t the best:
- It was sticky. Macaroni and cheese shouldn’t have the consistency of white rice. It should be oozy.
- It was processed. Adding the Tofutti cream cheese gave the mac n’ cheese a processed flair that I didn’t care for.
- The flavor still had room for improvement. It could still afford to be cheesier.
Rest assured that this entry right here is the cure to all of your vegan mac ‘n cheese woes, including the ones listed above. To make the dish more oozy, I added more oil and milk and took away the water completely. I formerly used Tofutti cream cheese to improve texture, but it turns out that if I added more cashew cream, Tofutti wasn’t at all necessary. Finally, to improve flavor, I used some different spices, which includes a perfected medley of nutritional yeast, sea salt, and smoked paprika.
So come on down and try the best vegan mac ‘n cheese you will ever try in your life. Yeah, performed that song and dance before, but that was then and this is now. I guarantee you that this is the last time I will ever change this recipe, because now, it’s perfect the way it is.
The Best Vegan Mac ‘n Cheese!
Prep Time: 15-20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Yield: 4 full servings or 8 side-dish servings
In the skillet:
- 1 cup russet potatoes, chopped (any white variety will do)
- 1/3 cup onion, chopped
- 1/4 cup carrots, chopped
- 2 tsp grape seed oil
For the cashew cream:
- 1 cup raw cashews (soaked** for 8 hours prior to use OR milled)
- 1/2 cup + 2 tbs of grape seed oil
- 2/3 cup unsweetened coconut milk or almond milk
- 1/4 cup + 1 tbs nutritional yeast
- 2 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 pound of your favorite noodles (I use gluten-free quinoa pasta from Ancient Harvest)
- 1 head of broccoli, de-stemmed and chopped
** If you soak your cashews, use 3/4 cup of raw cashews instead of 1 cup, as the cashews will expand.
Step 1: Cook the skillet ingredients.
Cut up the potatoes, carrots, and onion. Don’t peel your potatoes; keep those nutrients in! Place these items in skillet with the 2 tablespoons of oil. Initially, place the items on medium heat. Once the contents start crackling, turn the heat down to low, cover, and cook for 15 minutes.
Step 2: Boil the macaroni noodles.
Don’t worry about cooking them al dente. I have found that the al dente noodles tend to get a little crunchy in the oven, so I always cook my noodles until they are squishy, but not mushy. Nobody likes mushy.
Once you strain the noodles, rinse them off with cold water. This prevents the noodles from cooking themselves longer from the heat they retain during boiling.
Step 3: Prepare the cashew cream.
I have a NutriBullet, which has a milling blade that grinds cashews to a flour without the need for soaking. If you place the raw cashews in a strong food processor, blender, or coffee grinder, it will probably work. The result you’re looking for is the cashew pulp, seen below. For the non-soakers, blend your cashews first before adding the rest of the ingredients.
For most of you, you will need to soak your cashews for 8 hours prior to making this meal. Once the soaking is over, drain your cashews. Make sure you have a strong blender or food processor to avoid chunks of wet cashews (ew). For the soakers, you’ll probably need blend the cashews and coconut milk first before adding the rest of the ingredients.
Once you have blended the cashews, add the rest of the cashew cream ingredients. It will look something like this:
Step 4: Blend the skillet and cashew cream ingredients in a food processor.
Your skillet time should be up. Dump both the skillet ingredients and cashew cream ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth and creamy.
Step 5: Mix the noodles, cheese, and broccoli together. Cook.
I cook for only two, so this recipe is excessive for us. We are huge leftover fans, so I put half of the noodles in one baking dish and half in another. I do the same with the cheese and broccoli. One dish will be cooked now; the other will be placed in the fridge and will be cooked tomorrow.
If you live in a house of 4 or more, you’re probably intent on cooking all of it at once, and that is a splendid idea! Oil your favorite baking dish(es) first. Place your noodles in the baking dish. Dump the cheese on top, sprinkle your broccoli pieces, and stir it all up.
Place your dish(es) in the oven at 350º for 30 minutes.
See? No more sticky noodles. Only the yums.
Also, as always, make sure you let me know how your dish turned out! You can comment below, tell me on Facebook, or use the hashtag #thisvegangirl on Instagram. I update the blog once a week, but I post on Instagram several times a day. Also, you can follow my board on Pinterest. I post my own recipes there, but I also post other recipes that tickle my fancy.
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