Since I became vegan, there have been certain foods I’ve missed more than others. My go-to comfort foods have taken the hardest hit. One of those feel-good casualties was mac and cheese. Specifically, homemade mac and cheese casserole. The creamy, bread-crumby, warm, gooey goodness that makes you want to curl up in the bowl and live there.
Or maybe that’s just me.
Anywho, I shocked myself AND my husband by creating a mac and cheese casserole SO creamy… SO crumb-y… SO satisfyingly filling that it requires draw-string pants for consumption. No skinny jeans up in here.
And seriously- the fact that my husband (the meat and potatoes man who wouldn’t even try hummus when I first met him) not only tried, but LOVED this casserole- it’s a big freaking deal. So here goes.
For the Cheese Sauce:
- 2 cups raw cashews, soaked in 3 cups of water overnight (as I’ve said before, I will try to find an alternate nut in the future that is produced in a more person-friendly fashion)
- Nutritional Yeast- I use a powder form, but flakes will do as well
- Garlic Salt
- Sea Salt- I prefer Pink Himalayan but any kind will do
- Cayenne Pepper (optional)
- Unsweetened Almond or Soy milk
For the Casserole:
- 1 box pasta of choice, I use Rotini- boiled until just under-cooked (al dente, eh?) and strained
- 2 cups bread crumbs- I put a couple slices of sprouted bread in the food processor until they were ground up to crumbs, but whatever floats your boat
- Dollop Veganaise or alternate vegan mayo
- 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
- Olive oil (for a drizzle)
- 1 cup chopped up tomatoes
- 1/3 large onion, diced
- 1/8 cup ground flaxseed to thicken- you can add more if your sauce came out thinner than you’d like.
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
From here it gets super easy. I love me a recipe that involves throwing everything together.
- For the cheese sauce:
- Pour your soaked cashews into the blender, water and all. Blend until smooth.
- Add in a healthy portion of nutritional yeast, I was happy with about 1/2 cup
- Add about 1/8 cup of almond or soy milk and blend again until creamy. Add more if needed to achieve desired consistency.
- Add garlic salt, sea salt and cayenne pepper to taste. Personally, I start with a teaspoon of each and just keep licking the spoon until I’m happy. Let’s be honest, I’m happy the whole time. It’s delicious.
- Continue to blend until creamy- should be the consistency of nacho cheese, or slightly thinner.
- Set aside. Like, far away from yourself and any nachos, pretzels, spoons, or other vehicles that will try to force you to eat straight from the blender.
- On to the casserole:
- Pour your drained pasta into a large mixing bowl.
- Add diced tomato and onion, veganaise and mustard, stir. If you aren’t a mayo or mustard person, you can totally leave these out. I just like the extra tang they add, personally.
- Stir in 1/2 of your breadcrumbs and the ground flaxseed.
- Top that beautiful mess with your cashew cheese and stir to combine.
- Plop entire mixture into a 2 qt casserole dish.
- Sprinkle remaining breadcrumbs on top, and drizzle with olive oil.
- Loosely cover the concoction with foil and bake for 20 minutes.
- After 20 minutes, remove foil and bake for an additional 20 minutes.
- Remove from oven, allow to sit for 20 minutes (IF YOU CAN).
Serve to your salivating guests with a side of Franks Red Hot, which will make your masterpiece even more delectable.
I was so pleased with this casserole, and would love to hear about your results. As you may have gathered, I really don’t measure too precisely, so feel free to play around. Cooking should be fun, and one of the many benefits to vegan cooking is that no raw eggs or meat means you can lick your fingers from start to finish!