A super rich and creamy Vegan Power Mac and Cheese recipe made with whole grain noodles, broccoli, and greens! Kids and adults alike will adore this wholesome one-pot meal.
How have I never posted mac and cheese?! I eat pasta at least once a week in the hummus household. It’s such a staple! Cheap, easy, and muy delicioso.
This Power Vegan Mac and Cheese was inspired by a recipe in the new Engine 2 Cookbook by New York Times bestselling author Rip Esselsytn and his sister, Jane. Rip has been an inspiration to me since my early vegetarian days and he continues to amaze me with his luscious, approachable plant-powered recipes. He’s the textbook definition of plant-strong and I so admire what he’s done with his career and his efforts to make plant-based diets more mainstream and frankly, more masculine.
On page 225, Rip has a recipe for “Mac-N-Cash,” a southwestern-inspired mac and cheese with roasted corn and other yummy add-ins. I made it per the recipe the first time around and then adjusted it to my own preferences. The photos reflect the original recipe made with 1 cup of roasted corn, 1/2 cup roasted red peppers, 3/4 cup nutritional yeast, 1 1/2 cups almond milk, 1/4 cup lemon juice and 1 tsp onion powder. For my version, I cut down the nooch, lemon juice, left out the corn and peppers, added paprika and turmeric for color, and used water instead of almond milk. Okay, it’s basically an entirely different recipe!
I also found that I liked the recipe better without baking it since the sauce dries out a bit in the oven. And hey, fewer dishes!
I called this “Power” Vegan Mac and Cheese because it has broccoli and greens, but obviously you can make it without veggies if that’s what you’re feeling. ‘Tis a free country.
Long story short, use this recipe as a guide, since that’s what recipes are—a guide! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: salt is very important for flavor here and in all recipes. If you’re salt sensitive (I’m not), feel free to stick to 1 teaspoon or less. If you’re not, season the final product to taste. I find that the lemon juice is also a personal preference. I freaking love acid, so I always err on the side of more lemon. If you don’t love that zippiness, leave it out!
I like to sprinkle the top of my vegan mac and cheese from the heavens with chili powder or smoked paprika. The more layers of flavor, the merrier!
I hope this recipe impresses the carnivores and herbivores in your family alike! In my humble opinion, it’s impossible to make vegan mac and cheese taste like regular mac and cheese because…there’s no cheese. That said, I enjoy this dish for what it is: a wholesome, super creamy and satisfying one-pot meal of greatness.
Dive in head-first, noodle beans! This is the good life.
- 1 cup raw cashews
- 8 oz whole grain elbow pasta (use gluten-free if necessary)
- 2 crowns broccoli, chopped into bite-size florets
- ½ tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp salt (more to taste)
- ½ tsp turmeric
- ½ tsp paprika
- Pinch of red pepper flakes
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1¼ cups water
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast
- 2 cups spinach (or greens of choice) chopped into ribbons
- Place cashews in a small bowl and cover with very hot water. Set aside.
- Cook pasta according to package directions. When 2-3 minutes are remaining, add broccoli. Once pasta is al dente, drain.
- Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onion and a pinch of salt and cook for 5 minutes, or until translucent. Add garlic powder, salt, turmeric, paprika, and red pepper flakes, stirring for a minute. Carefully transfer onion mixture to a blender and add greens to pan, sautéing for a couple minutes or until wilted.
- Add the drained cashews, lemon juice, water, and nutritional yeast to blender and blend until smooth and creamy.
- Add pasta and broccoli back to pot along with sauce and toss together. Add greens and stir until combined. Taste and add salt if needed. You can serve immediately or pour into a 9x13in baking dish, top with ½ cup panko bread crumbs, and bake for 15 minutes for a crisper topping. Serve with hot sauce, if desired.