Saturday, January 25, 2014

vegan cashew mac & cheese

the greatest love affairs are cheese-based.
Vegan Cashew Mac & Cheese

the sparkle is back.

One of my clearest food memories from early childhood is that of a baked macaroni and cheese casserole. My family did not eat such things, a fact which I regarded with resentment at the time but have grown to appreciate over the years. But there are perks to visiting relatives and sometimes those perks are cheese-covered. One sunny Florida day, my father's cousin took something from her oven the likes of which I had never seen. Surely my memories have been exaggerated over time, but this bubbly, cheesy, bread crumb-topped thing...I remember how it smelled and can picture it now,  majestically glowing like so many gold bricks. WHAT WAS MACARONI AND CHEESE CASSEROLE AND WHY HAD I NEVER EATEN IT BEFORE??? That was the moment our love affair began, macaroni and cheese and I.  In all of the intervening years, we have stayed true to each other. We even survived VEGANISM together; our bond is stronger than oak. Because of this unwavering devotion I have eaten A LOT of mac and cheese over the years,
some of it very very good and a good amount of it very very bad. 
I wouldn't say our relationship was in trouble (mac and cheese and I) but, as with any long term commitment, the sparkle might have faded, just a teensy bit.
So, I've been doing some (cashew-based) tinkering and what can I say? 
This stuff...YOU GUYS. 
This stuff is like a little bit of magic. Or a whole lot of magic. 
A whole lot of cashew-y cheesy-y magic. Without the cheese. 
The sparkle is back. 

(cashew) cheesy goodness.

Vegan Cashew 
Mac & Cheese
(serves 4... or 1 if you're me)

1 (heaping) cup raw cashews
+ water for soaking
1Tbsp tomato paste
1/4c water
2Tbsp nutritional yeast
1/2 lemon, juiced
1tsp sea salt
1/2tsp turmeric
1/4tsp black pepper

1lb pasta of your choosing.
I prefer rice (for gluten free) or 
whole wheat elbows.

1/2c unseasoned breadcrumbs 
1-2tsp olive oil
scallions/ crushed red pepper for garnish

Soak raw cashews in cool water for 1 hour.
Drain soaked cashews and place them in a food processor or blender.
Add nutritional yeast, tomato paste, salt, turmeric, pepper
and pulse a few times to combine.
Add lemon juice and water.
Blend until completely smooth.

Prepare pasta according to instructions.
Drain and combine with cashew cheese.
Add water, a tablespoon at a time, if sauce seems too thick.
Serve as is, with garnishes of your choosing
Spread prepared mac and cheese into a greased loaf pan.
Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and extra olive oil.
Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes, or until top is lightly browned.
Garnish and serve.
we've got a lot of good years left in us, mac and cheese and i.


  1. You list tomato paste and olive oil in the ingredients, but don’t mention them in the directions—other than adding extra olive oil at the end.

    1. Hi Susan- the tomato paste should be added and blended with the cashews and other ingredients. There is no olive oil in the cheese sauce, the amount listed is optional if you plan on baking the mac & cheese as a casserole. Enjoy! :)

  2. I made this tonight and was standing at the counter shoveling it into my face. THANK YOU!

    1. I've done that more times than I'd care to admit... ;) Thanks for the feedback!!

  3. Question: If the cashews have already been soaked and then dehydrated, do they need to be soaked again? Is it for the texture? This sounds like the best mac and cheese ever.

    1. Yes to soaking the cashews again. It softens them and makes blending easier. Plus it gives the dish a fantastically creamy texture. Hope you enjoy! Would love to hear how it turns out. :)