Vegan Macaroni Cheese

I love pasta and after switching to a vegan diet, I especially missed the delicious, creamy, cheesiness of macaroni cheese. I had seen recipes for vegan versions before. Some didn’t sound appealing (Have you tried vegan cheese? It just doesn’t cut it.). Some sounded very time-consuming. And some would have been expensive due to all the fancy ingredients were didn’t already have in our cupboards. I finally found one that uses (for the most part) basic ingredients that are typically already found at home here at Vegan Yumminess. And since our new, high-powered blender showed up (we’ve started juicing also), we were finally able to make it!

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Now, this sauce looks like cheese and tastes like cheese, but I promise you that there is not a lick of cheese actually in this (but you’d never know!). The recipe calls for nutritional yeast, which is NOT the same as active yeast (this is the one ingredient that you may not have in your cupboard. I did not and left it out and the recipe was still delicious- I imagine it would just be that much more delicious with it included). The Happy Herbivore says:

Active yeast and nutritional yeast are completely different products that are used for two different things. When people ask me if they can swap out the two and use them interchangeably- I always have to tell them no because the results in whatever they’re making will come out completely different! Active yeast works as a leavening agent in breads and other baked goods. It’s primarily used to make your baked goods rise and add fluff to a piece of bread or a cinnamon roll. Active yeast can come in a jar, or it can come in little envelopes found in the baking aisle of your grocery store. Nutritional yeast is a deactivated yeast, so it won’t make things rise and is not a replacement for yeast when baking. It has a cheesy, nutty flavor that you can use in sauces or as a topping, like sprinkled on popcorn. Nutritional yeast can be bought online or at most health food stores, and comes either as a powder or flakes. It is a complete protein, a good source of vitamins and is dairy & gluten free. Most brands are also fortified with B-12.

We will be ordering nutritional yeast to include in our sauces from now on. I have a couple other recipes that call for it, but for now, here’s the Vegan Macaroni Cheese!

Ingredients

10 ounces dried macaroni (or about 2⅔ cups)
1 cup peeled/diced yellow potatoes (or russets)
¼ cup peeled/diced carrots
⅓ cup chopped onion
¾ cup water (preferably use liquid from pot of boiled veggies)
½ cup raw cashews
¼ cup coconut milk
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes (preferably included, but sauce will work without if they are not available)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
¾ to 1 teaspoon salt (or more to taste)
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
1 pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
1 pinch paprika

Instructions

Cook macaroni al dente, according to package instructions (usually requires boiling for 6-8 minutes in salted water), drain, and set aside.
Bring several cups of water to boil in a small pot. Place chopped potatoes, carrots, and onion in the boiling water, and cook for about 10 minutes, or until vegetables are tender and soft enough to blend. Cooking time will vary slightly, based on how small you have chopped your veggies.
When veggies are soft enough to blend, use a slotted spoon to remove them from cooking water, and place them in your blender. Add ¾ cup of that cooking water to your blender, along with your remaining ingredients.
Blend until smooth.
Pour sauce over your cooked macaroni noodles in a dish of your choice, taste for salt, and serve immediately.
Or, place macaroni mixture in a baking dish, sprinkle with bread crumbs, and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes, or until crumbs are turning golden brown.

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