All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2015
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I have never had a vegan mac & cheese that I liked. In fairness, I think the only one I have tried was the mock Kraft at Doomie’s here in Hollywood. Their vegan Big Mac (above) is a revelation but the mac & cheese is underwhelming to the extreme.
There are lots of ways to make vegan mac & cheese. Some use raw cashews, soaked overnight & pureed. Others use sweet potatoes. This one uses carrots, potatoes & nutritional yeast. Nutritional yeast has many health benefits and can be purchased in bulk at health food stores & places like Whole Foods. It is a yellowy, flaky powder & has a nutty cheesy flavor and – it seems – is one of those things you either love or hate. This mac & cheese tastes primarily of nutritional yeast so, if you are a hater, you won’t like this. Lots of blogs recommend easing into using nutritional yeast slowly & developing a palate for it. I liked it right away and so did my friend, Rose, so you might fall into that category, too. You can dip your finger in some & taste it to see where it falls for you on the flavor appeal scale.
I could not find raw cashews so I used roasted ones & just boiled them along with the vegetables. It worked fine.
This is a very creamy dish & seems pretty healthy – as mac & cheese goes. I just need to impress upon vegan newbies that this does not taste like Kraft or cheddar. It is a very reasonable substitute – like Diet Coke for Coke or Garden burgers for real burgers. These things do not trick anyone into believing they are the real thing but they are great substitutes. I will admit – I used a boatload of Crystal hot sauce on mine & it helped a lot. That isn’t really a cheat because I use hot sauce on all mac & cheese. So – if there are things you like on your regular mac & cheeses – use those things on this one, too.
Fast and Easy Stove Top Vegan Mac and Cheese
Serves 2-3 depending on appetite
12 oz dry pasta
1 cup raw potato (I used fingerling but any white potato will do)
1/3 cup cashews (raw or roasted)
1/2 cup vegan butter
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
3 TBS coconut milk
Pepper to taste
Parsley – chopped
Cook the pasta according to directions.
Meanwhile – boil the carrots, potato & cashews until the veggies are very soft. Puree them in a blender (adding a small amount of water, if necessary) with all the remaining ingredients (except smoked paprika & parsley). Puree until it is very creamy.
Drain the pasta & toss with the sauce. It is just that easy!