YOUR FAVORITE COMFORT meal minus the cheese!
YES! You read that correctly spicy VEGAN mac and cheese! we all love mac and cheese, but the calories, the dairy, the fat, the bloat…ughhh! Well, with the holidays around the corner, I thought it was time to get to the good stuff, but in a healthier way. HealthIER is key here HAHA! It’s still mac and cheese after all!
Sure the turkey is the main attraction on most holiday dinner tables. However, I must say that every year EVERYONE looks forward to my mac and cheese. So I’ll be cheeky and say my mac and cheese is the main attraction at my dinner table. It really is bomb!! This year I wanted to spice it up and eliminate some calories while still living up to my original cheesy recipe.
…And boy did I do it! This recipe is cheesy, comforting, delicious and 100% satisfies your mac and cheese craving. But you be the judge. Try my vegan mac and cheese recipe and let me know what you think.
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The vegan cheese sauce
You simply can’t have mac and cheese without the perfect cheese sauce. The base of this vegan mac and cheese sauce starts off traditional with a roux. However because the veggies make the sauce naturally thick, I didn’t use much flour or butter as you traditionally would. This also helps to cut back the calories.
The veggies I used are important. They are mild in flavor, and for the most part puree really well. The butternut squash helps achieve the color of a traditional mac and cheese. The cauliflower creates a cheese-like consistency when blended, but it can be a bit grainy. This is why I add one large potato. When the potato combines with the cauliflower and the butternut squash, it helps create the smooth texture we are looking to achieve.
Alone the blended veggies make a beautiful sauce. However, the sauce is not quite thick enough or tasty enough to resemble cheese. The roux thickens up the sauce giving us the perfect consistency of a traditional cheese sauce minus the cheese! Side note, when you’re making a roux, NEVER stop whisking especially while adding the liquids. If you stop, it will clump up and those lumps are what give you a grainy sauce. IF THIS DOES HAPPEN, no worries, strain the sauce twice and that should resolve the problem.
As you may have noticed, when it comes to vegan recipes, you must season everything well and build on your flavor profile. The nutritional yeast is what gives the vegan mac and cheese it’s “cheesy” flavor. The soy sauce, onion, garlic, ADOBO, tomato paste, and spices help elevate that flavor profile disguising our vegan sauce completely. You literally will forget that there isn’t any dairy in this recipe!
What can I serve vegan mac and cheese with?
Mac and cheese is one of those lovely dishes that can be eaten as a main or as a side dish. If you’re having it as a main, pair it with a green leafy salad and if you want some crunch, add some garlic tostones on the side! That’ll impress anyone!
But if you want to go above and beyond, Pair it with my vegan Chicharrón de Pollo and vegan garlic sauce. Now that’s a meal that will get grab everyone’s attention! And when you let your dinner guests know it’s all VEGAN… Well u may want to catch that on camera HA!
The best part about this recipe is that kids love mac and cheese, and this vegan mac and cheese is no different. So it is definitely a meal that can be shared as a family. The little ones can’t tell they’re not actually eating cheese. So why not sneak in some extra nutrients, while giving them something they already love with a healthier twist. You may want to leave out the cayenne pepper if serving to little ones. However, I’ve seen some little ones demolish spicy food that I barely can have one bite of HAHA! So this would totally be to your discretion.
HERE IT IS MY SPICY VEGAN MAC AND CHEESE RECIPE!
If you haven’t done so already, check out my ADOBO recipe as it is used in this recipe. ENJOY!!!
Spicy vegan mac and cheese
- Large pot
- Baking dish
- Blender or hand mixer
- 500 G Spiral or elbow pasta
- ½ Head of cauliflower
- ½ Butternut squash
- 1 Large potato
- 2 TBSP Nutritional yeast
- 1 TBSP Plant-based butter
- 1 TBSP Plain flour
- 1 TBSP Premium light soy sauce
- 1 TBSP Tomato paste
- 1 Medium onion
- 4 Cloves of garlic
- 1 TSP Granulated garlic
- ½ TSP Smoked paprika
- 2 TSP Adobo
- 1 TSP Cayenne pepper
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 CUP Breadcrumbs
- ⅓ CUP Oat milk
- 1 TBSP Plant-based butter (softened)
- Small pinch of salt and pepper
- Prep the veggiesPeel/clean the cauliflower, butternut squash, and potato. Cut the squash and potato to similar sizes, while cutting the cauliflower slightly bigger.
- In the large pot, boil the veggies until tender. Season the water with some salt.
- Once tender, pull out the veggies and set aside. Use the same water to boil the pasta. Add a larger pinch of salt. When boiling the pasta, boil for 2 minutes less than the instructions on the package. You want your pasta to have a slight bite to it. Drain and set aside.
- Meanwhile, in the saucepan saute the onion and garlic until translucent. (about 5 minutes)
- Add the tomato paste, granulated garlic, paprika, adobo, and cayenne pepper to the mixture. Season with a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Once warmed through, turn off.
- To the blender, add the veggies and the onion mixture. Puree until smooth. Taste. Add salt if needed.
- Using the saucepan, make a roux. Add 1 TBSP of butter to the pan, once warm add the flour. Whisk continuously until the mixture is medium brown in color. (Medium heat)
- When the roux is a medium brown color, add in the oat milk, soy sauce, and nutritional yeast. Continue to whisk continuously.
- While still whisking, add the pureed veggies to the roux. Once fully combined lower the temperature to low. Taste. Season with salt and pepper one last time, if needed.
- Pour the "cheese" sauce over the pasta and mix well. Then pour the pasta into the baking dish.
- preheat oven to 375F or 190C
- Mix the softened butter and breadcrumbs until fully combined. Lightly season with some salt and pepper and mix.
- Pour the topping on top of the prepared baking dish, covering the pasta.
- Bake on the middle rack until the top is golden brown. (About 15-20 minutes)
- Once baked let it stand for about 5 minutes before serving...AND DONE!
- If spice isn't your thing, just leave it out. Or if you want more of a kick, add a little more.
- Don't like butternut squash? No worries, use sweet potato instead. However, the sauce will be much thicker, add a couple of tablespoons of oat milk if needed.
- Feel free to add more butter to your sauce if desired. I find that one TBSP for each, the sauce and the topping is enough. However, if you enjoy your mac and cheese buttery, go for it! You may want to add a tad bit more flour to the roux if more butter is added.
- You will not need to bake this mac and cheese as long as a traditional one. This is because the "cheese sauce" will get dry in the oven. You don't want it to get too dry, just literally brown on top.