If you were to ask me what my favorite meals of all time are, I’d say — well, actually, I’d probably have to think about it for a bit. But when I’d get back to you, I’m pretty sure a good vegan Mac n cheese would be right up there in the top spots (among contenders like Tom Yum soup, salad with red oak leaf lettuce, chickpeas, avocado, and date balsamic vinegar, and Alsatian Shepherd’s Pie).
While it’s totally possible (and most likely delicious) to simple use vegan cheese to make a vegan Mac and cheese, I try to eat healthier when I can. And when the results are as delicious as this cheezy sauce, it’s not a sacrifice at all.
Using cashews, potatoes, a bit of carrot and bell pepper plus lots and lots of nooch (aka nutritional yeast, duh) makes this sauce colorful and so creamy despite using only a measly amount of olive oil. This makes this recipe comfort food that is actually healthy. Pair it with some wholemeal pasta, some greens and more veggies, and you have yourself a nourishing meal that won’t fail to please your taste buds. Promise!
Obviously, you can pair this sauce with whatever you like. I find it goes particularly well with sun-dried tomatoes and spinach leaves, but if you’re more of a broccoli kinda gal or guy or totally into peas, well, then, more power to you!
Anyway, here it is:
Smoked Paprika Mac and Cheese
makes about 3 servings
For the cheezy sauce:
- 1/3 cup cashews, soaked for at least a couple of hours or overnight
- 115 g potatoes
- 40 g carrots
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 20 g roasted bell pepper, store-bought or homemade
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- 1 teaspoon mustard
- 1/8 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika (or regular paprika)
- pinch of chili
- 1/4 teaspoon thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon white wine vinegar
- 1/3 cup nutritional yeast
For everything else:
- 100 g frozen spinach leaves
- 5-7 sun-dried tomatoes
- your favorite pasta (I use spelt pasta or wholemeal pasta)
- Soak the cashews, if you haven’t done that already. If you’re crunched on time, you can use boiling hot water and let them soak for just about half an hour or as much time as you can spare. If you have a Vitamix or other powerful blender, you don’t have to soak the cashews at all, but it does aid digestibility and mineral absorption.
- Cut the potato(es) into little dices of 1.5 centimeters and the carrots in dices of 1 centimeter. No need to peel either – let’s keep those extra nutrients!
- Add potato and carrot dices to a small pot, add water to cover and bring to a boil. On low heat, cook for about 15 minutes or until fork-tender. Drain.
- Add all the ingredients for the sauce to a high-speed blender. Blend on medium to high until the sauce is smooth.
- Meanwhile, cook your pasta. Defrost your spinach leaves in the microwave or simple add them to the pasta a few minutes before the noodles are done (this only works if the spinach is still in its leafy form, of course).
- Cut the sun-dried tomatoes into thin strips or dice them finely.
- Drain the pasta (and spinach, if using this method), then add it back to the pot. Mix in the cheezy sauce, spinach, and sun-dried tomatoes. And now don’t waste any more time before digging in!
If you try this recipe, I’d love to know what you think! Just leave a comment below.