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plant-based mac and cheese and veggies
by Jackie Newgent | April 18, 2021 | 2 Comments
Whipping up this 100 percent plant-based mac and cheese and veggies recipe means that you don’t need to give up mac-n-cheese scrumptiousness when you’re craving a bowl of vegan-style comfort! In fact, you might enjoy this twist on it more. I do!
Pick your pasta
First, you get to pick whatever pasta shape you’re in the mood for, rather than stick to traditional macaroni. Here, I chose Sfoglini Trumpets—they’re ideal for grabbing onto all of the sauce. Whatever shape rocks your boat (even if it’s macaroni!), choose an organic pasta or a whole grain pasta—or both—to give the recipe a nutritious upgrade!
Then for whatever noodle you select, I suggest lid-cooking it. In other words, bring a pot of (salted) water to a boil, stir in the pasta, and bring it back up to a boil. Next, put a lid on the pot and turn off the heat (or remove it from the burner if using an electric stove). Let the pasta “lid cook” (cook without energy) for the exact time suggested on the package. This is a fun way to save energy and still have perfectly prepared pasta!
Whirl up the “cheese sauce”
For the “cheese” sauce, there’s no highly processed stuff here. Instead, you’ll whirl up these wholesome ingredients in a blender until velvety smooth: quick-soaked cashews, butternut squash or pumpkin puree, nutritional yeast, soy-free vegan butter or extra-virgin olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, sea salt, black pepper, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, turmeric, cashewmilk or oat milk, and veggie broth. It’s creamy, saucy, and super flavorful.
Add your favorite veggies
Finally, I’m sure you noticed the “and veggies” in this plant-based mac and cheese and veggies recipe. Basically, I pair mac and cheese with the same amount of vegetables (1 cup mac and cheese to 1 cup veggies) and serve both in a big bowl. The entire bowlful becomes the entrée. It’s so much more interesting (and nourishing) this way!
Pick your fave vegetables or whatever is seasonal and available at your local farmer’s market. Need inspo? Try these veggies here:
Roasted grape or cherry tomatoes, Brussels sprouts, bell or poblano peppers, or purple cauliflower
Grilled asparagus, zucchini, portabella mushrooms, or eggplant
Sauteed spinach, kale, broccoli, or broccolini
For best results, use mildly seasoned (i.e. salt and pepper) cooked vegetables here. Ideally use a colorful mixture of vegetables. Aim for at least a two-veggie combo. Give asparagus with mushrooms or tomatoes with spinach a go. You can serve veggies as large pieces or small bite-size cubes. I suggest large pieces for a more wow-worthy presentation, and then everyone gets to cut up the produce themselves as they slowly savor their plant-based mac and cheese and veggies … a bowl of yumminess!
Whipping up this 100 percent plant-based mac and cheese and veggies recipe means that you don’t need to give up mac-n-cheese scrumptiousness when you’re craving a bowl of vegan-style comfort! In fact, you might enjoy it more. I do!
2/3 cup (100 grams) raw cashews
8 ounces (227 grams) dry organic pasta of choice
1/2 cup (125 grams) butternut squash or pumpkin puree*
1 tablespoon lemon juice (juice of 1/2 small lemon)
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 1/4 teaspoons sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/3 cup (80 milliliters) plain, unsweetened cashewmilk or oatmilk
1/3 cup (80 milliliters) low-sodium vegetable broth
4 cups (or equivalent) grilled, roasted, or sauteed non-starchy veggies of choice, warm (leftovers are great!)
Add the cashews to a jar or heatproof glass storage container, cover completely with boiling water, seal, and let stand for 10 minutes. Then drain well.
In a large saucepan, cook the pasta per package directions, ideally in salted water. Or lid-cook the pasta.
Meanwhile, add all ingredients except the pasta and veggies to a blender and puree until the sauce is velvety smooth, about 3 minutes on high speed.
Drain the pasta, reserving 1/2 cup (120 ml) of the cooking liquid. Return drained pasta to the saucepan over medium heat. Add the pureed sauce to the pasta and stir to coat and heat through, about 1 minute. If need for consistency, stir in desired amount of reserved cooking liquid.
In bowls, serve the mac and cheese and the warm veggies side by side.
*If you don’t have prepared or canned butternut squash or pumpkin puree, you can actually use jarred baby food. I did!
Serving Size:1 cup mac and cheese + 1 cup (or equivalent) veggies each
Sugar:7g includes 0g added sugars
Keywords: macaroni and cheese, mac and cheese, pasta, vegan, vegetarian, plant-based, plant-based recipe, comfort food
Looking for other high-flavored, plant-based pasta recipes? Check out my plant-based pesto pasta salad with grilled grape tomatoes (see recipe HERE), creamy vegan pumpkin pasta “alfredo” (see recipe HERE), or red lentil pasta with vegan basil-pistachio pesto (see recipe HERE).