BitterSweet

An Obsession with All Things Handmade and Home-Cooked

Reunited and It Tastes So Good!

56 Comments

Nine years is a long time to go without a childhood favorite. Comfort food that evokes the warmest, coziest memories, even if it did come out of a blue box and was composed of more chemicals than you might find in the average chemistry set. Something about that simple amalgamation of noodles and cheese-product sauce managed to reach the farthest corners of my young brain, imprinting a deep appreciation for the day-glow orange noodles. Sure, I’ve since had numerous non-dairy renditions, some even quite good and worthy of recommendation, but none were quite right. Some unidentifiable piece of the puzzle remained lost, that “perfect” mac and cheese just beyond my reach.

Every vegan and their mother and best friend has a unique formula for creating their ideal mac, so it was one of those things I simply didn’t pursue. There were enough recipes that came close enough; why keep picking on something so close?

But then, there was the mac that changed everything. Assigned by VegNews to shoot their signature macaroni and cheese, as formulated by Allison Samson of Allison’s Gourmet, it was admittedly the first time I had ever made or eaten an oven-baked casserole version of the classic dish. That first bite was just short of transcendent- And even more so if you consider that fact that the original recipe included absolutely no nutritional yeast. A potato-based sauce, standing in for rich, cheesy-creamy-goodness? You bet.

And thus, my macaroni quest began.

Drawn back to my memories of simple stove-top mac, my first adaptation was to lose the casserole dish and bread crumbs. Feel free to add both back into the equation, as I was definitely impressed by how much those crispy edges added to the mix; it’s merely a matter of personal preference.

Naturally, I couldn’t keep away from the nooch, what with it’s delicious umami notes and undeniably “cheesy” essence.

Rich, but not unctuous or artery-clogging, this is perhaps as close to perfection as I’ve tasted in nine years or more. Creamy, very saucy (who hasn’t wished those boxes made about twice as much sauce?), bright but natural orange in hue, this is the mac I’ve been craving all along. That long awaited reunion tasted even better than I had hoped!

Vegan Stove Top-Style Macaroni and Cheese
Adapted from Allison River Samson’s VegNews Macaroni and Cheese

1 Cup Peeled and Diced Yukon Gold Potatoes
1/4 Cup Shredded or Finely Diced Carrot
1/2 Cup Chopped Yellow Onion
1 Clove Garlic, Thinly Sliced
1 Cup Water
1/4 Cup Raw Cashews
1/4 Cup Nutritional Yeast
1 Teaspoon Salt
1/4 Teaspoon Dijon Mustard
2 Teaspoons Lemon Juice
1/4 Teaspoon Smoked Paprika
1/8 Teaspoon Tumeric (Optional, for Color)
3/4 – 1 Cup Unsweetened Non-Dairy Milk
1/3 Cup Neutral-Flavored Oil, Such as Canola or Rice Bran

1 Pound Pasta, Cooked*

*I’m rather fond of tiny spirals or twists here, but elbows are more traditional. Any shape you’ve got, other than long spaghetti, pretty much works though.

Place the cut potatoes, carrots, onion, and garlic in a small sauce pan, and pour in the water. Set over medium heat on the stove, and bring to a boil. Once the water reaches a vigorous boil, cover the pot, turn down the heat to medium-low, and let simmer for 15 minutes, until the potatoes are extremely tender.

Meanwhile, prep the other ingredients to speed things along. Place the cashews, nutritional yeast, salt, mustard, lemon juice, paprika, and tumeric (if using) in your blender. A high-speed blender is recommended for the best results, but you can also use an ordinary machine as long as you have patience. Give these ingredients a light pulse just to begin breaking down the cashews slightly.

When the vegetables on the stove are fully cooked and ready, pour them into your blender along with all of the cooking water. Add in 3/4 cup of the non-dairy milk, and turn on the blender to its highest setting. Thoroughly puree the mixture, until completely smooth and lump-free. If you’re using a blender that isn’t so hearty, this could take 6 – 10 minutes. With the motor still running, slowly drizzle in the oil, to allow it to properly emulsify. Check the consistency; if you like your sauce a bit thinner blend in the remaining 1/4 of non-dairy milk.

Pour the sauce over your cooked noodles, and serve immediately.

Makes 6 – 8 Servings

Printable Recipe

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Author: Hannah Kaminsky

Author of My Sweet Vegan, Vegan Desserts, Vegan a la Mode, and Easy as Vegan Pie.

56 thoughts on “Reunited and It Tastes So Good!

  1. I, too, loved mac and cheese from a box so if this satisfied your years-old craving,I’ll have to try it. I like that you use a combo of cashews and nutritional yeast. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Hmm, the potato part is really interesting! Just because of that I’m definitely going to have to give this a whirl. Looks great!

  3. it looks a lot like the recipe from Alicia Simpson’s book “Quick & Easy Vegan Comfort Food: 65 Everyday Meal Ideas for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner with Over 150 Great-Tasting, Down-Home Recipes”, but her’s doesn’t use any nutritional yeast… it was the first time i saw a mac and cheese using potatoes!
    I havent tried either recipe, but I may have to soon :)

  4. I’ve got no idea what mac cheese should taste like, I think it only exists in american culture, along with pb&j sandwiches and pies made of yam… But I feel like I should try this all the same, just to see what I’m missing!

  5. If you say it is that good then I will give it a try..
    stunning clicks as always Hannah :)

  6. That looks very delicious. The orange is very bright and lovely, but it doesn’t have that frightening neon look of the stuff in the blue box.
    I’ve tried making my own baked mac ‘n’ cheese – good o so unhealthy! Your version sounds a lot healthier, something I can indulge in more often.

  7. I love that you added the nooch back Hannah. I love Allison’s recipe, but I’ve always felt it needed some nutritional yeast. I’m going to try this tonight!

  8. I stumbled upon this recipe last August and was instantly intrigued. My momma put bread crumbs on her mac ‘n cheese so I made it with the crumbs. It was very tasty but still… not quite “right.” I really like your idea of the nutritional yeast. I think that may have been the missing link!

  9. So glad you were reunited with your childhood favorite. Brilliant idea to use a potato based sauce to mimic cheese.

  10. I have tried a million recipes of mac and cheese- all good but none amazing. Excited to give yours a try- thanks!

  11. I’m always up for a healthier version of mac and cheese! And I’ve even got some nooch that desperately needs using up! How exciting!

  12. I’ve bookmarked this page and will definitely have to give this recipe a go sometime. One of my all-time favorite “cheese” sauces is very similar to this, using potatoes and cashews for creaminess and carrots for hue. KD was pretty much the only thing I could “cook” until I was…um, 21? :)

  13. Glad to see this. I’ve played around with too many vegan mac & cheese recipes that just didn’t fulfill my mac & cheese desires. They’ve all called for nutritional yeast, and the taste often replicated that ingredient. I love the oven baked version of this too!

  14. Mac & cheese is total comfort food for me, and this version looks perfect! I’ve made versions with various veggie purees (sweet potato, pumpkin, & cauliflower), but I’ve never used Yukon Golds – I love that you combined them with cashews and nooch. This is definitely a must-try!

  15. I haven’t tried the VegNews recipe yet, but I’ve been meaning to forever! This looks like a great adaptation; love the addition of nutritional yeast!

  16. Oh yum, so simple yet so tasty! I acidentally tried smoked paprika when my mum bought it by mistake and though it tasted way too much like meat so was completely put off. But I guess a small amount in this you probably wouldnt even be able to identify.

    Rose

  17. This is delicious and easy to make! I went back for seconds and my non-vegan husband and daughter even LOVED it! This will be a regular from now on!

  18. My mom never made mac and cheese, and I didn’t develop a childhood love for it, but after seeing your recipe, I think it’s time to start enjoying this vibrant version. I’d love to make it for my granddaughter, who eats traditional mac and cheese.

  19. I’m always too impatient to put bread crumbs and bake! Love this recipe!

  20. You’ve made this Aussie girl, who never once ate mac ‘n’ cheese growing up, long for a childhood treat that was never in her childhood ;)

  21. Wow that looks fantastic and I only recently discovered crumb topped baked mac & cheese too. Even this non-vegan is dying to try this =).

  22. I did not grow up with macaroni and cheese. But when I went to university I used to buy these pasta dishes with cheese that came in bags and could be prepared in ten minutes or so. Your stovetop mac reminds me them. No, that sounds wrong because I bet that your recipe is so much better!

  23. Mac n’ cheese isn’t a comfort food for me as I didn’t grow up with it. But I do like to eat it sometimes. Your healthier stove top version looks yummy. Love the extra sauce, it’s the best part! :-)

  24. This sounds like a combo of the best parts of vegan mac n cheese variations. Looks absolutely delicious!

  25. WHOA. This is on my to-do list!

    Now, I don’t know if you had any leftovers, but when I was growing up, not only was Kraft Dinner (I discovered recently that many Canadians call it Kraft Dinner while Americans tend to eschew the brand name altogether. Is this true?) a delicacy and a treat when freshly prepared, but it was savoured and sometimes even more desirable when it was reheated the following day. So I have to ask: is this as good reheated?

    Kudos, again, for what looks to be a fantastic adaptation.

    • And here I’m about the opposite way- I’ve always hated the reheated leftovers! However, for those who enjoy such things, I hear that it keeps and reheats quite nicely, so I think you should be pleasantly surprised. :)

      Let me know what you think!

  26. OK, this recipe rocks! I just made it for the 2 toughest critics in the world, my kids, who are mac n cheese fiends/connoisseurs. They totally loved this recipe. I loved it too. Will be making again for sure!

  27. I’m always up for a new mac n cheeze recipe. Ahhh those child hood memories fo comfort food in a box. ha!

  28. Love the look of your mac and cheese, and I love how healthy it is! Turmeric is a great trick up the sleeve for pretty yellow color…it makes a really pretty yellow rice too!

  29. Thank you so much for the inspiration! I made this tonight and it was awesome. My picture didn’t come out as well as yours though. Keep up the good work.

  30. I, too, LOVED this recipe. Or, shall I say, I loved my interpretation of your joyous recipe! I say the following not to be snooty or smug, just for those who are curious: Upon tasting the sauce, I added a teaspoon of Maca powder to give it a little more funk and about half a tablespoon of Marmite to give it a little more depth. This is the first time since I went vegan that Mac and Cheez has made me so happy. Thank you so very, very much!

    Derek

  31. is 4:30 in the morning to early to eat breakfast. Mac n cheese can be a breakfast food right?

  32. i’ll have to give this a try when the hubby isn’t home for dinner – he’s not so fond of cheese substitutes… now he needs an over nighter somewhere!

  33. I’m a plain mac and cheese girl, no bread crumbs for me! This looks amazing!!

  34. I’ve been making Vegan Yum Yum’s version of this (basically the same, but no onion or garlic) for two years and everytime it makes me SO HAPPY.

  35. By the way, this reheats BEAUTIFULLY! No separation. No oiliness. No grainy particles. Let’s see “real” mac and cheese pull that off!

  36. This looks incredible…I’ve done some searching for the perfect vegan mac, but have yet to find one that really brings back those childhood memories. It’s the one thing I miss from my Standard American days…
    I’m definitely going to try this recipe out! It’ll be perfect for when we down the shore (when eating cardboard, chemical, mac and cheese happened far too often)

  37. Your dish looks amazing!!:-)
    Vegan macaroni and cheese is one of my favourite things in the whole world.

  38. This recipe is terrific. I’m about to make it again!

  39. The original recipe from VegNews is one of the best vegan mac-and-cheese recipes I’ve seen and tried on the internet, but your version, which includes nutri yeast, is closer to the adaptions I have made of that recipe (and absolutely loved). We should also give kudos to Jo Stepaniak, one of the pioneers in vegetable-based mac-and-cheese recipes (see “The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook” for a similar recipe).

    I understand the apprehension towards nutri yeast on the part of some, as it is often, and ignorantly, overused. But if it is used as an INGREDIENT (not as the main attraction), as you do here, it does not engulf the entire recipe and scream “Warning! Cheese Substitute!”

    The original(s), and the variation that you have shared here, might truly prove to be some of the foundation recipes in the vegan ‘litany’. Thanks for advancing the litany!

  40. I’ve tried a couple of vegan mac & cheese recipes and was never that impressed but haven’t tried one with a potato based sauce! It sounds really good.

  41. Pingback: Meatless Mondays: Vegan Mac ‘n Cheese | cookingandhooking.com

  42. Yeast is on my allergy list. *sigh* Is there something I can substitute? Also can’t have paprika. Ugh. Stupid allergies. This looks yummy.

    • The nutritional yeast really is a tough one to get around… Nothing else tastes quite like it. The original recipe didn’t include it though, so you could always try to omit it entirely. While the recipe won’t taste the same, it may likely still be tasty regardless. You could also try adding in 2 – 3 tablespoons of white miso paste to add in that savory flavor- Just mind your added salt. For the paprika, a pinch of cayenne could work, too.

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  45. WOW! I am soo happy I tried your recipe! I am not ashamed tI say that when I tried your recipe I actually had some real tears fall from my eyes. Thank you so much for giving me my cheesiest memories back!!

  46. Pingback: Vegan Mac and Cheese « Wear me Well

  47. (almost) two years later, and this is still one of my favorite of your savory dishes. in fact, i’m making it right now because my (omni) sweetheart absolutely loves it. i go with a mix of sweet and white (gold) potatoes, and with raw tahini instead of cashews (cheaper, too).

    • That is such a smart idea for substitution! I would have never thought of potatoes, but I can see how it would add creaminess instead of the cashews. I’m so glad you’re still loving the recipe, and putting your own spin on it!

  48. One of the things I like best about this recipe is all the creativity it allows for! Many people seem to make adjustments to tweak to their liking. Even I make it VERY differently from the one I originally created 6 years ago! Thanks for sharing this, Hannah. =)

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