I started my journey into Mac ‘n Cheese probably like most people: through a box. I was a boxed Mac kind of gal growing up, and while I currently don’t miss eating powdered, neon orange substance and macaroni out of a cardboard box, I can always get behind a creamy, decadent pasta situation.
And that’s exactly what you’ll be getting here with this Cauliflower Mac ‘n Cheese. I wanted to create a plant-based cheese sauce that was indulgent and “cheesy” without the dairy, so you can keep your problems (and specifically your Lactaid) away from the table. The sauce is made with a base of cashews, which is commonly used to make creamy, dairy-free sauces mostly due in part to their being buttery and neutral. When soaked either overnight or “flash-soaked” in hot water for 1-2 hours (if you’re short on time), cashews soften and are easily blendable and pliable, perfect to mix with spices and other ingredients to create a rich, velvety sauce.
The nutritional yeast is key in providing a cheesy, savory taste, while also containing some gorgeous B vitamins to boot. Paired with some turmeric for color and cumin for spice, the sauce is rich and bodied with flavor coming from all of these different ingredients. To help everything come together and to add an extra layer of flavor, I use Pacific Foods’ Organic Low Sodium Vegetable Broth. Because the Mac ‘n Cheese sauce is made easily in a blender, the vegetable broth is crucial in helping to incorporate all the ingredients, while also adding a stronger depth of flavor. I also love to use Pacific Foods’ Unsweetened Almond or Cashew Plant-Based Beverage in the place of the vegetable broth if that’s what’s available to you, or if you would like to opt for a creamier, more decadent mac ‘n cheese sauce!
And finally, the cauliflower to the Cauliflower Mac. For an added component, I like to roast cauliflower in my favorite combination of spices: turmeric, cumin, salt, and pepper. All tossed in some olive oil, I cook it in the oven until it’s fragrant, golden, and slightly charred so you get those nice crispy florets. The best part about this is that the cauliflower and pasta contrast in both taste and texture, allowing for a more exciting experience of consumption – not to mention they complement one another perfectly.
I hope you enjoy this recipe – make sure to tag me on Instagram @dadaeats so I can see your creations!
Thank you to my friends at Pacific Foods for sponsoring this post 🙂
Spiced Cauliflower Vegan Mac ‘n Cheese
Mac 'n Cheese Sauce
- 1 cup raw cashews soaked (soak the cashews overnight, or “flash-soak” them in hot water for 1-2 hours)
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1/3 cup nutritional yeast
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 cup Pacific Foods Organic Low-Sodium Vegetable Broth
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1/4 tsp turmeric
- 1/4 tsp cumin
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- kosher salt to taste
- 8 oz pasta I like short pasta here like elbows, bow-tie, or penne
- 1 head of cauliflower chopped into florets
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp cumin
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- Freshly ground pepper
- Kosher salt
Soak cashews, either overnight, or flash-soak them in water you’ve boiled for 1-2 hours.
Cook your pasta according to the instructions on the box – drain, do not rinse.
For the cauliflower: Preheat your oven to 425 degrees and prepare a baking sheet by lining with parchment paper. Toss your cauliflower florets in olive oil, turmeric, cumin, salt, and pepper. Spread them out on the baking sheet so that they all have room to breathe, and roast in the oven, tossing a few times throughout, for about 40 minutes or until the florets are golden and crispy.
For the sauce: Start by adding your cashews, nutritional yeast, juice of one lemon, olive oil, garlic cloves, salt, pepper, turmeric, cumin, and paprika to your blender. Blend to incorporate the ingredients slightly. It should not look cute at this point. Now, add the Pacific Foods Vegetable Broth. Blend until the sauce is completely smooth. Season it to taste with salt and pepper.
Add the sauce to your cooked pasta. Mix until the sauce is well incorporated into the pasta and its crevices.
Top the mac ‘n cheese with the roasted cauliflower. Enjoy!