Sometimes a big steaming bowl of mac n’ cheese is all it takes to make me happy. There is nothing more comforting than thick creamy cheese coating a heap of tender elbow macaroni. In this recipe, cauliflower is the secret ingredient to this vegan “cheesy” sauce, making this classic comfort food guilt-free too!
Cauliflower florets and raw cashews are simmered in a bath full of big flavors and unsweetened almond milk, and then blended together to form a thick and cheesy blanket for the macaroni. It couldn’t be simpler. We topped ours with some sauteed veggie sausages and kale for added texture and nutrients, but honestly, the mac n’ cheese would be just as good served solo! And since it has cauliflower and cashews, it covers your veggie and protein needs all by itself.
Eating this mac n’ cheese felt like such a special treat, even when really it fit into our family values perfectly as a healthy vegan dinner. I’d say it was a win-win!
2 Tbsp coconut oil
2 shallots, diced
2 Tbsp (heaped) nutritional yeast
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 Tbsp tomato paste
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp kosher salt, plus more for pasta water
3 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk
1 small head cauliflower, cut into florets
3/4 cup raw cashews
1 pound elbow macaroni
1/2 Tbsp white vinegar
sauteed veggie sausages + kale for serving, optional
Heat oil in a deep skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add shallot and saute for 3-4 minutes until softened. Add the nutritional yeast, Dijon mustard, turmeric, tomato paste, garlic, and salt, and stir until flavors are combined and fragrant. Pour in almond milk and stir, scraping the bottom of the pan. Add the cauliflower florets and cashews and reduce heat to low. Partially cover the pan and simmer for 20 minutes or until cauliflower is fork tender. Meanwhile cook pasta in generously salted boiling water for 10 minutes. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water. Drain but do not rinse, and let sit in colander. When cauliflower mixture is cooked, transfer to a blender, cover the lid with a kitchen towel, and puree until liquefied and smooth. Pour sauce into the (now empty) hot pasta pot and return to low heat. Stir and cook until it starts to simmer. Add the cooked pasta, vinegar, and a splash of the pasta water, and stir until the pasta is thickly coated in the sauce. Remove from heat and season generously with salt and freshly cracked pepper. Serve with sauteed veggie sausages and kale if desired. Serve immediately.