Clean Vegan Creamy Mac & Cheese

By request! It’s been a little harder than I imagined it would be to come up with a clean (and vegan!) version of mac and cheese that’s just the right combination of creamy, savory and decadent. I’ve created TWO recipes for it. I couldn’t decide which was better so here they BOTH are! The second one is a just a bit less work but they’re both user friendly. Just be aware that the second, easier one includes carrots and cashews (surprisingly cashews are an AMAZING way to make vegan cream sauces, cheese, cheesecake and even mayo...more on this magical ingredient in other future posts!) So if you have a nut allergy then stick with the first recipe. Also, I’ve included a recipe for a breadcrumb topping. You can use this topping for EITHER recipe if you want to take that extra step to bake it. But you could also stop short of that for either recipe and just serve it when the pasta and cheese sauce is ready. It’s up to you. So as always, PLEASE POST your comments and photos!! And ENJOY!!

RECIPE #1:

Ingredients- • 1 small onion, chopped • 3 tbsp olive oil or avocado oil • ¼ cup almond flour or brown rice flour • Tapioca flour (by the teaspoon, to thicken, as needed) • 3 cloves garlic, minced • Juice of one lemon • 1 cup unsweetened coconut (or other non dairy milk) • ¼ cup nutritional yeast • 2 tablespoons dijon mustard • 2 tablespoons tomato paste • 2 teaspoons turmeric • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar • 2 teaspoons Franks (or other) hot sauce • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika (or to taste) • 1 pound brown rice or lentil elbow pasta • 1-2 cups pasta water • 1 cup frozen asparagus tips or broccoli florets (optional) • salt & pepper

For the topping: • 1 cup clean bread crumbs (chickpea or Ezekiel bread) • ¼ cup chopped almonds • 1 shallot, finely chopped • 1 bunch chives, finely chopped • pinch of cayenne & smoked paprika • drizzle of olive oil • salt & pepper

Instructions- 1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Heat olive oil in a pot over medium heat. Add onions, a few pinches of salt, and simmer until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add flour and whisk to thicken. Add garlic and cook for a few more minutes on low heat. 2. Add the lemon juice and stir. (Make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pan.) Add the non dairy milk, nutritional yeast, mustard, tomato paste, turmeric, hot sauce, paprika, and a few more pinches of salt. Combine well using a whisk. Then let simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, cook your pasta. 3. If you choose, you can put the sauce into a blender or food processor to get it really creamy, but that’s not strictly necessary. 4. Taste the sauce & season or spice it up as you wish. Also, if you’d like to thicken it further, whisk in tapioca flour, one teaspoon at a time. 5. Then in a large bowl stir together the cooked pasta, some of the sauce, and the frozen veg (if you choose to use them). Then stir in pasta water (1/4 cup at a time), as needed, to thin the sauce. 6. Place the mixture in a baking dish, add more pasta water and possibly more sauce. (It will dry out a little while baking so make sure it's really moist & creamy.)

For the topping: 1. In a small pan, sauté the chopped shallots in 1 Tbsp of olive oil, just until they’re softened. 2. Then in a bowl, toss the breadcrumbs, sautéed shallots, chives, chopped almonds, a little more salt, cayenne, and paprika. Drizzle a little bit of olive oil into the bowl to toss with the bread crumb mixture to moisten it. 3. Then cover the mac and cheese in the baking dish with the breadcrumb mixture. Sprinkle with additional paprika and any leftover chives. 4. Bake for 8-10 minutes, just until the crust starts to become golden brown. Serve with extra sauce if desire

RECIPE #2:

Ingredients- •2 white sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed • 1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces • 1 medium onion, quartered • ½ cup cashews • 1 teaspoon salt • 1 teaspoon garlic powder • 1 teaspoon onion powder • 1 teaspoon turmeric • 2 tsp mustard powder • 1 tsp hot sauce • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast • 1 lb brown rice or lentil elbow macaroni, cooked • 1 bunch chives, chopped • Tapioca flour (as needed, for thickening)

Directions- 1. Add potatoes and carrots to a large pot of boiling salted water. Cover and let the vegetables cook for 10 minutes, until they are fork-tender. Remove the boiled vegetables. Save 2 cups of the cooking water. 2. Add the vegetables, cashews, and seasonings to a blender with half of the reserved water. Blend, adding one tablespoon of water at a time until the desired thickness is achieved. (If you still want it thicker, you can use tapioca flour, adding one teaspoon at a time). 3. Pour the vegetable puree over the macaroni and stir (adding the chives too) to incorporate. Sprinkle with paprika and serve. (Or proceed to the topping recipe and then bake the dish as described above).



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