Vegan Mac and Cheese
I grew up eating my Mom’s homemade mac and cheese, which had all the flavors and fat that comfort food typically has and is one of my favorite recipes (hello butter and cheddar!). On a whim, I decided to make vegan mac and cheese inspired by fellow healthy food bloggers, and it knocked my socks off! I tweaked a few recipes to make this stellar version-all the flavor of traditional mac and cheese, but without the saturated fat and dairy. The “cheese” is gooey, creamy, and honestly tastes like cheddar cheese. Skeptical? Try it and taste for yourself ;)
What (your ingredients):
1 lb. fusilli or short pasta (elbows, shells, penne)
½ yellow onion
1 butternut squash, roughly cubed
½ cup cashews, soaked in hot water for 10-15 minutes
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon turmeric
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
Juice of ½ lemon
Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
How (your directions):
Boil water for pasta and salt water generously (pasta water should taste like the salinity of the sea). Cook pasta according to package instructions (about 7-8 minutes until al dente).
In a large saucepan, add the yellow onion (this does not need to be chopped or diced, just kept whole) and cubed butternut squash and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 15 minutes until fork-tender.
Add remaining ingredients except red pepper flakes to a blender. When butternut squash and onion are tender, add to the blender. Combine on high for 1-2 minutes until completely smooth.
Add sauce to strained pasta and heat on low for 2 minutes, stirring to make sure the cheese sauce is evenly distributed.
Serve with a pinch of red pepper flakes and freshly cracked pepper if desired, and enjoy hot!
Why (the science): Nutritional yeast is the key component to making vegan food brilliantly taste cheesy and is packed with vitamin B12, a vitamin found mostly in animal food. B12 is required for metabolism and DNA synthesis, so nutritional yeast is a powerful food that all vegans should have in their back pocket :)