I love pasta any time of year but during winter, I tend to make a lot more casseroles. Of course, the casseroles I grew up eating were not vegan and definitely not healthy (good thing I had a kid’s metabolism…shudders). In the going-on 9 years I’ve been vegan, my taste buds have changed so that I gravitate toward more wholesome, and non-greasy foods. Still, there is something about a warm baked pan of mac n’ cheese that just pulls at your heartstrings (stomach strings?), am I right? 😉
This vegan mac n’ cheese recipe fits the bill for the hungry vegan who still wants her casserole, but also have it be wholesome and nourishing, too. It’s crusty and browned at the top and creamy with mild pumpkin and cashew “cheese” filling–and I substituted some of the pasta with “cheddar” cauliflower. You eat with your eyes too, so this cheese-colored cauliflower is perfect for this hearty dish. It also has tons of Vitamin A (pumpkin) and zinc (cashews) for keeping your skin pretty. (Side note: I’ve been noticing a big difference with my skin adding more of those nutrients to my diet…just remember A and Z!) So it’s practically beauty food. 😉
Vegan Pumpkin Cauliflower Mac n’ Cheese
4 oz pasta
1 small head cauliflower, chopped fine
1 1/3 cup cashews, soaked in warm water for at least 1 hour then drained
1 can pumpkin puree
1 1/2 cup non dairy milk
1 tbsp olive oil, plus 1 tsp for sprinkling on top
1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp mustard powder
Plenty of freshly ground black pepper
Bread crumbs (optional)
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Boil pasta (about 5 minutes for elbows) and cauliflowers, and drain; set aside.
2. In a blender or food processor, process pumpkin, cashews, milk, lemon juice, oil, garlic powder, turmeric, mustard powder, nutritional yeast, salt, and black pepper until smooth.
3. In a baking pan, add pasta, cauliflower, and “cheese” sauce and fold together. Adjust seasoning to taste. Top with bread crumbs and bake, covered, for about 30 minutes. Uncover; sprinkle with a teaspoon of olive oil and bake for another 5-8 minutes until the top is crusty and golden brown in places.
More vegan pasta: Spaghetti Squash pasta with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
Photo: Peaceful Dumpling