A 15 Minute Vegan Mac & Cheese Recipe

 

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There’s a few reasons why you should know how to make a vegan cheese sauce. First, because a serving of a dairy free version is less than half the calories, it is a great way to reduce fat in your diet and, it cooks up as fast if not faster than the regular version. No grating required!

Most vegan cheese sauces expect you to think ahead and soak a bunch of cashews overnight. We’ve discovered a much faster method. Try this recipe once, fall in love and never have to worry about having one great vegan recipe in your repertoire again. 

It’s been a while since we posted about Meatless Mondays so today we thought we’d just check in and see how that’s going. Of course it doesn’t have to be Mondays, but who doesn’t like a little alliteration? Tofu Tuesdays, anyone? The point is, easing up on meat and animal products every now and then is a good thing, for you, for the planet, and you won’t hear that many animals complaining either.

The last few years in Toronto have seen a vegan boom; restaurants like Mythology and Doomie’s are doing a brisk business, and more and more home cooks are at ease cooking meat-free. And when it comes to home cooking and comfort food, what could be more familiar and comfortable than digging into a big bowl of mac & cheese? Coming up with a good cheese substitute can be tricky. Forget about buying vegan cheese slices and melting them down into a sauce; it doesn’t work. But this cheese sauce recipe does and it is amazing.

 

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An excellent ersatz cheese sauce can be made using cashews as the base, and adding nutritional yeast- extremely high in B-vitamins and folate- and white miso to provide that umami flavour. A little bit of coconut oil adds the familiar mouthfeel, and a touch of lemon juice gives it that tangy flavour we associate with a good strong cheddar. To add body and more colour, carrot and potato and a little onion are included. With a little tinkering and tasting, we have come up with a super healthy vegan cheese sauce that makes one of the most delicious macaroni and “cheese” dishes we’ve ever tasted. As an added bonus it is gluten-free too, unlike traditional cheese sauces that typically use a wheat flour roux. This is an excellent sauce for macaroni, or wherever else you would want a cheese sauce; on a baked potato, poured over broccoli or cauliflower, or in a cheese omelette.

 

after boiling the cashews and veg, strain

after boiling the cashews and veg, strain

 

This recipe, which serves four uses one cup of raw unsalted cashews, weighing four ounces (112g). Each one-ounce serving of raw cashews contains 155 calories and 5 g of protein, as well as 12 g of fat (cashew oil) and 10% of your RDA of iron. Cashews are not just another pretty face, they are incredibly good for you. Add to that the B vitamin explosion from the nutritional yeast, the goodness of carrots and potato and onion and the anti-inflammatory benefits of turmeric and you have a sauce that is not only delicious-rich, creamy and actually tasting of cheese but is a nutritional powerhouse as well. And if that’s not enough to convince you to give this a try, the whole thing comes together in about 15 minutes, about the time it takes to boil the noodles!

No soaking of the cashews overnight. We’ve discovered a faster method! Just simply toss the cashews in when you boil the carrots and potatoes. So simple. Wait til you taste it…

 

give it a good puré

give it a good purée

 

Vegan “Cheese” Sauce for Mac & Cheese

makes 2 ½ cups

1 cup raw cashews

1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped

1 potato, peeled and chopped

½ onion, chopped

2 cups water

3 tablespoons nutritional yeast

1 teaspoon white miso paste

1 teaspoon turmeric

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon white pepper

¼ teaspoon fresh grated allspice or nutmeg

1 tablespoon coconut oil

juice of half a lemon

Put the cashews, carrot, potato and onion in a saucepan with 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then simmer until ingredients are soft, about ten minutes. Drain and reserve liquid. Put about ¾ cup of liquid into a blender and cover. Turn blender on, uncover and slowly add cooked ingredients, increasing blender speed to high and adding more liquid if needed. Keep blending until everything is nice and smooth. This took a little over 1 cup of liquid to get the consistency we wanted, smooth and creamy but not too thick. At this point pour sauce back into saucepan and over low heat stir in the yeast, miso paste, turmeric, paprika, salt, white pepper and allspice. Give it a good stir and add the coconut oil and the lemon juice.

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