Vegan Mac and Cheese Recipe: Forget the fake cheese, it’s all in the sauce

Jhe best traditional mac and cheese recipes are about more than just cheese. They use a béchamel to create a cheese sauce that coats the pasta and keeps the dish wonderfully creamy.

So it follows that the best vegan mac and cheese recipes also rely on more than just vegan cheese. In fact, many of them don’t use any vegan cheese, but instead use cashews to create the sauce and other powerful ingredients (such as nutritional yeast, miso, and mustard) to provide flavors of hazelnut, deep and spicy at the party. Some recipes add tapioca or potato starch to approximate the elasticity of cheese, vegan or not.

This recipe, which I adapted from the new book by the folks at Goodful (part of BuzzFeed’s Tasty family), puts some other nice twists on the standard vegan technique and just might raise the bar.

Here you cook the potato, carrot, garlic, and onion in a pan with water and the necessary cashews, then the whole thing is mashed with the aforementioned flavor boosters to become the sauce. The potato brings this starch, the carrot a touch of color.

I added some personal touches to the mixer. When I first tried this recipe, the only nutritional yeast left in my pantry was yeast flavored with “nacho” spices, including cayenne pepper and smoked paprika, and I loved it. results. So next time I tried adding plain “nooch”, plus the separate spices, and again loved the hint of heat and smoke.

A warning about this recipe: it does a lot, filling a 30cm deep cast iron pan. If your household is small, feel free to eat whatever portion you want, refrigerate some for the next few lunches, and/or freeze some for even longer.

But if you have a hungry teenager at home, like my husband and I now have a child in foster care, the quantity will be welcome. This 13-year-old ate around a quarter of the pan the first day – and polished it off the next day.

Vegan Mac and Cheese with Broccoli

Serves: 8 to 12

active time: 35 minutes | Total time: 1 hour

Get ahead: Assemble and refrigerate up to 3 days before cooking.

Storage Notes: Refrigerate up to 5 days or freeze up to 3 months.


2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 medium white or yellow onion (225g), chopped

1 C. fine salt, divided, plus more to taste

2 cloves garlic, grated or pressed

1 medium russet potato (250g), washed and cut into 1.5cm cubes

1 medium carrot (115 g), washed and cut into ½ cm pieces

120g raw cashew nuts

480ml water, more if needed

5 tablespoons nutritional yeast

1 tablespoon of white miso

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

½ teaspoon smoked paprika

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 large broccoli (680g)

450g elbow macaroni

56g panko or unseasoned breadcrumbs

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 230°C.

In a 30cm cast iron skillet or other ovenproof skillet over medium heat, heat the oil until shimmering. Add onion and ½ tsp salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent, 4 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add potato, carrot, cashews and water, increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, until potatoes and carrots are very tender, 10 to 15 minutes (add hot water as needed to keep vegetables barely covered). Remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes.

Carefully pour the vegetables and liquid into a blender. Add nutritional yeast, miso, mustard, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper and ¼ tsp salt. Blend on high power until sauce is very smooth, 1 to 2 minutes.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. While the water is heating, cut the broccoli stalk off the head and use a vegetable peeler to peel the tough outer layer from the stalk. Cut the stalk in half lengthwise and then in half-moons of 0.5 cm. Cut the head into bite-sized clumps.

Once the water boils, add the pasta and cook until 2 minutes less al dente according to package directions, 3-5 minutes. Add the broccoli and cook for the remaining 2 minutes, or until the broccoli is bright green and the pasta is al dente.

Drain pasta and broccoli and return to pot. Pour in the sauce and toss to coat well. Return the mixture to the cast iron skillet and smooth into an even layer.

In a small bowl, mix the panko with the remaining ¼ teaspoon of salt and pepper. Sprinkle with macaroni and cheese. Bake for 10 to 20 minutes, or until the panko is lightly browned and the sauce begins to bubble. Serve hot.

Nutritional information per serving, based on 12 | calories: 291; total fat: 8 g; saturated fat: 1g; cholesterol: 0mg; sodium: 234mg; carbohydrates: 46g; dietary fiber: 5g; sugar: 3g; protein: 11g.

This analysis is an estimate based on the available ingredients and this preparation. It should not replace the advice of a dietitian or nutritionist.

Adapted from ‘Plant and Planet’ by Goodful (Rodale Books, 2021).

© The Washington Post

Michael M. Tomlin