Sometimes I’m just in the mood for something a little more carb heavy and creamy. If this doesn’t hit the spot, then I don’t know what does! I haven’t grown up eating macaroni and cheese, so I don’t really have much to compare it to before we became vegan, but I’ve had my fair share of it when we were travelling the West Coast of the US a few years ago. You could get mac & cheese as a side dish, as a main, in burritos, and in pretty much every single place we went to.
I chose not to use vegan cheese in this recipe because they vary so greatly all around the world. I wanted to make sure that the recipe is as accessible as possible with the ingredients that I’ve used. I also wanted to give it something a little different from the standard classical version. I love the slight crunch and different texture from the pasta that has baked on the top. I also love using smoked paprika in dishes like this one. It adds a new depth of flavour and works so well!
I’ve done a couple of recipes in the past that are similar in terms of texture, like this Creamy Pumpkin and Capsicum Penne. I also use the base of this white sauce a lot. You can experiment for yourself to see what works best for your taste buds.
As I mention below, you can use whatever pasta you like. I prefer to use no larger than the classic penne as it works best to keep it smaller for the texture you’re trying to achieve with a dish like this. And of course, a gluten-free pasta would work just as well.
If you’re not into spice (hot spice), then maybe consider reducing the amount of pepper you use. If you like a bit of heat, use the amount that’s in the recipe. Or if you really love hot food, then feel free to add a bit more. Just adjust it to your palette. Same goes for the salt.
I hope you enjoy my take on the super popular dish that is mac & cheese — made vegan and smokey. Just the way I personally like it 🙂
- 3 cups (around 340 grams) macaroni pasta*
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 brown onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 medium potato (around 80-100 grams), washed and grated**
- 1/2 cup (75 grams) raw cashews
- 1/3 cup (20 grams) nutritional yeast
- 1 tsp smoked paprika + extra for sprinkling
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1.5 cups (375 ml) water + extra
- Preheat the oven to 200C (390F).
- Bring to boil a pot of water for the pasta. Once boiled, add in the pasta and cook as per instructions.
- Drain the pasta once cooked and return back to pot.
- In the meantime, in a small saucepan on medium heat, add the oil, onion and garlic.
- Sweat out the onions and garlic for a few minutes stirring occasionally.
- Add in the grated potato and cook until the potato has softened. Add a little water if it starts to stick - around 1-2 tbsp.
- Place the cashews, nutritional yeast, smoked paprika, salt, pepper, water and the cooked onion, garlic and potato mix into a blender, and blend until smooth.
- Pour the sauce over the pasta and mix well.
- Place in a baking dish (doesn't matter about the shape, just that it all fits) and flatten with the back of a spatula or spoon.
- Place in the oven for around 10 minutes or until the pasta starts to brown just a little on top.
- You don't want to leave it in there too long as it will dry it out.
- Remove from oven and sprinkle some smoked paprika on top.
- Serve warm.
*You can use whatever pasta you like here. I went for the more traditional style and used macaroni. I have made it with a gluten-free penne before and it's just as delicious! ** Any potato variety that is good for mash. I also don't peel the potatoes, just give them a good scrub under some water. You miss out on so many beneficial nutrients in the skin if you peel it off!
Interested in more recipes?
Want to get inspired each week with a new vegan recipe using everyday ingredients? Click on the link below to get them straight to your inbox!