Let me start off by saying, I am NOT a vegan. I love frozen yogurt (and ice cream, and cheese, and Greek yogurt OK you get the picture) WAY too much. However, during my early days of vegetarianism (wow, that’s actually a word!) I decided to experiment with a lot of vegan recipes as well and the thought of cheese-less macaroni and cheese really peaked my interest. I found a few recipes that I decided to try out and with a few tweaks and personal touches here and there, I now have a vegan mac & “cheese” recipe that has become a staple in the Simpson house.
This mac & “cheese” recipe doesn’t call for any of that fake vegan cheese that you find in the refrigerated section of the grocery store. I have nothing against it, I just would rather know exactly what was going into my food and creating a cheesy taste out of completely different ingredients felt like somewhat of an accomplishment! Feel free to throw in whatever vegetables you’d like – hubby and I enjoy it with sauteed kale.
Vegan Mac & “Cheese” with Sautéed Kale (Makes 6 servings)
- 16 oz Brown Rice Pasta (any shape – I like macaroni or rotini)
- 2 cups Cashews, soaked in water at least 3 hours and drained
- 2 TBSP Lemon Juice
- 2 cups Butternut Squash, cooked & cubed (I use frozen)
- 1/2 cup Nutritional Yeast (can be found at most health food stores) – This is key!
- 1 tsp Minced Garlic
- 1 ½ tsp salt
- 1 ½ to 2 cups Almond Milk (original unsweetened)
- Large bunch of Kale, chopped & de-stemmed (I typically use half a bag! It cooks down a lot)
- ½ TBSP Olive Oil
- 1 ½ tsp smoked paprika – another key ingredient!
- Salt & Pepper to taste
Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain well and rinse under cold water. Transfer the pasta back into the pot and set aside (drizzle with olive oil to keep it from getting sticky).
Place the soaked and drained cashews, 1 cup of the almond milk, lemon juice, cooked butternut squash, nutritional yeast, garlic and 1 ½ tsp of salt in a food processor. Blend very well, stopping to scrape down the edges as necessary. This step seems as though it takes forever but you really want to give it time to get nice and smooth! Add more almond milk until you reach the desired thickness of your “cheese” sauce. When the sauce is done, fold in the smoked paprika.
While the sauce is blending, start sauteing your kale by heating ½ TBSP of olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Add kale as you break it apart off the stems. Stir constantly until it is bright green and has started to wilt. Sprinkle with salt & pepper to taste (be sure not to overdo it though – a little goes a long way and the kale will wilt down to a lot less than it actually looks like at first).
Add the kale to the pasta and pour the “cheese” sauce over everything. Turn the burner on low and reheat the pasta as you combine everything until the desired temperature is reached. Serve immediately.