Part Two: Creamy Vegan Mac and Cheese
When the weather starts to get really cold and I know winter is coming, I start craving comfort foods. Chicken soup with bread and butter is a big go to for me on a snowy day. Chili with Corn Bread is another on cold days, especially when we have company over. And then there is the most popular comfort food of all, Mac and Cheese.
I’ve heard many a debate over whether the “Blue Box” is better than homemade mac-and-cheese. Personally, I think it depends on your mood. But some will swear by the “Blue Box.” Personally, I prefer the “Bunny Box with Shells.”
But what if you are vegan or dairy-free and you are craving mac and cheese?
Raw Cashew to the Rescue!
Cashew’s superpower is to be a substitute for creamy goodness. In Part One of the Cashew Superpower Trilogy I wrote about Vegan Spinach Artichoke Dip. Today, I share with you another cashew superpower recipe: Creamy Vegan Mac and Cheese.
This is another recipe that has been a hit with friends and family. It thickens up just like cream would, creating a yummy, creamy sauce to put on your noodles. I’ve also had this sauce on spaghetti squash and it is just as delicious.
This recipe is very easy. The hardest part is probably having patience waiting for the sauce to thicken in the sauce pan.
First you need to activate the raw cashew’s superpower by soaking them in water for at least an hour. I usually go at least 4 hours as that is what other cashew recipes recommend. But life happens, so at least an hour is good for this recipe.
While the cashews are soaking, cut up the onion. I usually just cut up the onion in rings. You are going to be putting it all in a blender anyway, so it doesn’t have to be neatly chopped. And I don’t chop the garlic, either. Then sauté the olive oil, onion and garlic. Let the mixture cool.
Time to get out the blender. Put the soaked cashews, water,coconut milk, nutritional yeast, lemon, salt and garlic powder in the blender.You can blend it a bit at this point to get is started if you want. Then add the cooled sautéed onion mixture.
Starting at a low speed, begin to blend all the ingredients. Slowly increase the speed. Once at a high speed, blend for 3 minutes to make it creamy. We don’t want any cashew bits in there. Superheroes try not to leave evidence of their good deeds behind.
I like to taste the sauce at this point in the process. Sometimes I like to add more nutritional yeast for a more “cheesier” flavor.
Place the sauce in a sauce pan and simmer. This recipe makes quite a lot of sauce, so you might not want to use all of it at once. You can put the left overs in a jar and refrigerate until you use it, hopefully within the next 10 days.
Simmer the sauce until it thickens. The recipe says 1 to 2minutes. This is a lie. Flat out. Take your time, let it simmer until you have a thickness that makes you think, “Mmmmmm…creamy!”
Meanwhile, get your noodles ready. Use any type of noodle you want. I’m not going to judge you. White penne, zucchini spirals, whole wheat spaghetti noodles, it’s totally up to you.
Once the sauce has thickened, add the noodles to the sauce. Ta Da!! You have Mac and Cheese! It will look more like an Alfredo Sauce. And it won’t taste exactly like cheese because, well, it isn’t. But it is creamy, yummy goodness, I promise!
At our house, we usually add chicken to it, but this isn’t necessary. I swear broccoli would be delicious with it, but my husband disagrees. I sometimes add chopped roma tomatoes. Very yummy!
Though I have never done it, I’d guess you could put it in a dish and bake it for a bit. Baked mac and cheese is so yummy. But I’ve never tried it with the cashew sauce.
And there you have it! Mac and cheese made with cashews!
Give it a try. Let me know what you think. It is creamy and tasty enough for you?
Here is the recipe. Click here to see the recipe on the web.
Fresh Thymes’ Mac and Cheese with Cashew Cream Sauce
Yield: 4-6 servings
- 1 small white onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
- 1 TB. olive oil
- 1 cup cashews, soaked for at least 1 hour
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups canned coconut milk
- ½ cup nutritional yeast*
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
To make the sauce, warm a sauté pan over medium heat adding the olive oil,onion and garlic. Sauté until translucent. Remove from heat and allow it to cool.
Meanwhile, in a Vita-Mix or other high-speed blender, add cashews, water, coconut milk, nutritional yeast*,lemon, salt and garlic powder. Then add the cooled onion and garlic.
Turn blender on, gradually increasing speed to high. Blend on high for 3 minutes, or until the sauce is creamy and no bits of nuts remain. Taste for seasoning.
Prepare your noodles by following the directions on the back of the package. Options are brown rice noodles (for80:20), kelp noodles or make zucchini noodles using a spiralizer.
Place the amount of sauce you would like in a saucepan and simmer for 1 to 2 minutes until it thickens, adding noodles as desired. Season with salt and pepper to taste and enjoy.
The sauce makes more than you need for 4-6 servings and will keep for up to a week refrigerated.
Option to serve with sautéed spinach and mushrooms.
*To keep this 100% cleanse-friendly, omit the nutritional yeast and add extra 1/2 onion, 1 garlic clove and 1/2 lemon juiced to recipe. Serve with either kelp or zucchini noodles.
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