Vegan Macaroni and Cheese, kicked up with cayenne, garlic and onion. This creamy and delicious dish comforts and satisfies–without yeast flakes or gluten!
Vegan Mac and Cheese without Yeast Flakes
Disclaimer: I don’t have a fundamental problem with yeast flakes. As a matter of fact, I use yeast flakes in my recipe for Cauliflower “Egg” Salad. Let’s just call it preferential pairing. I prefer this ingredient in dishes that have a concert of stronger flavors. To get the velvety creamy sauce that is typical in any traditional Macaroni & Cheese recipe, I enlisted the help of my Creamy Vegan Alfredo.
Vegan Mac and Cheese Made with Cauliflower
To this day so many people cannot believe that it is cauliflower that brings so much of the smoothness to that sauce. Using that as a starting point I created a recipe for Vegan Macaroni and Cheese. It is not only as delectable as its non plant-based counterpart, but also extremely flexible and nutritious.
Kicked Up Vegan Macaroni and Cheese
If you are a fan of garlic and onion (like everyone in my family) feel free to add a little extra to the sauté .
While blending the sauce, I added cayenne pepper for a nice spicy kick–but if spicy kick isn’t your thing, just omit it. If you’re like my daughter and you can really take the heat, then add more! Cayenne is great for revving up the metabolism.
Additionally, I used vegan cheddar cheese, but next time I’m going to try using the vegan pepperjack cheese. And don’t think I’m not already planning to test out adding a small can of green chilies to this tasty dish!
Nutritious Vegan Macaroni and Cheese
The cashews, olive oil, garlic and onion are great sources of plant-based protein, healthy fats and antioxidants.
But the cauliflower is the nutritional powerhouse in the mix. One cup of chopped cauliflower offers 85 percent of your daily value of vitamin C! Feel free to check out my Cauliflower “Egg” Salad post to find out all of the other great nutrients packed into this cruciferous veggie.
And once you find out how much cauliflower has to offer you will definitely want to check out my round-up of 6 Plant-based & Gluten-free Ways to Make Cauliflower Decadent and Delicious!
Vegan Macaroni & Cheese, kicked up with Cayenne, garlic and onion. This creamy and delicious dish comforts and satisfies--without yeast flakes or gluten!
- 12 oz. gluten-free penne or elbow pasta
- 1/2 large head cauliflower (cut into florets)
- 1/2 cup raw cashews (soaked)
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 8 medium cloves fresh garlic (minced, more or less to taste)
- 1/3 cup sweet onion (minced)
- 1/4 cup arrowroot
- 3/4 cup cashew milk (unsweetened, plain)
- 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (finely ground, more or less may be added by preference)
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt (finely ground, more or less may be added by preference)
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper (finely ground, more or less may be added by preference)
- 3/4 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 1/2 cups shredded vegan cheddar cheese (I use Daiya)
- 1 cup gluten-free bread crumbs
- 1) Place water on stove to boil for cooking pasta and follow instructions on package to cook. At the same time, place raw cashews in one cup of very hot water and soak for 20 minutes or more (should be soft and swollen), and begin steaming cauliflower florets (about 20 minutes).
- 2) While pasta, cauliflower and cashews are cooking and soaking, heat a medium sauce pan on stove top with olive oil. When olive oil is hot, add minced garlic and onion. Saute until garlic is golden brown and onion is translucent.
- 3) Leave garlic and onion mixture on medium heat and whisk in arrowroot. (about one minute until blended -- see picture in post). Add cashew milk while whisking to blend (about 1 1/2 minutes). Remove from heat.
- 4) Add steamed cauliflower, soaked cashews, and garlic/onion mixture to high speed blender. Gently pulse then pause and remove lid to stir manually if blades are having difficulty. Continue these iterations until enough liquid is generated to allow free movement of the blades. Blend on high speed until smooth (about 2-3 minutes). Next, add cayenne pepper, salt, black pepper, and lemon juice. Blend until smooth. This is a good time to taste and see if you want to add more salt, pepper, or lemon juice.
- 5) Pour strained pasta into a large mixing bowl and gently stir in sauce with a spatula or wooden spoon. Add cheese and gently mix. Pour mixture into a greased 13x9 inch glass baking dish. Flatten mixture with spatula and sprinkle with gluten-free bread crumbs. I like to add some melted vegan butter to my bread crumbs before sprinkling for a little extra flavor! Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes. Uncover and increase temperature to 350 degrees. Bake additional 15 to 20 minutes until bread crumbs brown and dish begins to bubble. See notes for reheating instructions.
If you should happen to find yourself with leftover Kicked Up Vegan Macaroni & Cheese, it will store nicely in a sealed container in the refrigerator.
Reheat Place a small amount of cashew milk in a pan on the stove (about 1 tablespoon per 1/8th of the pan) and add Macaroni & Cheese. Warm over a low heat and gently stir. This same process will also work well with a bowl in the microwave. (reheat on power 7).
Alternate Prep For a creamier vs. casserole version of this recipe I would suggest preparing/using 1.5 times the sauce. Additionally, the temp should be increased to 350 for the first 15 minutes of cooking time as well.
Michelle Montgomery says
Looks yummy! Can leftovers be frozen?
Hi Michelle, I have not been able to try freezing it as we never have any left over 😉 I think it should be ok. Let me know how it goes if you decide to try it. :))
Anyone tried this without the cashews? I have a nut allergy. 😒 Most vegan cheese recipes call for cashews. I’ve seen a few with pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds instead. Any experience with this?
Hi Amber! That is a great question. I have not tried this yet myself, perhaps try substituting tahini for the raw cashews (about 5 or 6 tablespoons). Any mild tasting plant-based milk could be subbed for the cashew milk. Please let me know how it goes if you decide to try it! I hope this helps 🙂
Is the lemon juice a necessary ingredient?
( I have a citrus allergy)
Hi Kary, you should be able to substitute apple cider vinegar for the lemon juice, in this recipe, with no issues. 🙂
What is arrowroot?
Hi Roslyn! Arrowroot is a nutritionally dense starch that is extracted from the tubers of tropical plants.The specific plants that it is sourced from vary based on geographic location. It is a great thickener and commonly used as a replacement for cornstarch. It has no flavor on its own and digests very easily. It has become a staple in my pantry! I purchase it by the bag from Bob’s Red Mill at a fraction of the cost that is charged for a tiny bottle in the spice section of your grocery store. I hope this helps! 🙂
this looks amazing! I never would have thought to add cauliflower 🙂 great idea!
Thanks so much Shannon!! It is amazing how diverse cauliflower can be!!