Q: What do you call a fake noodle?
A: An Impasta
Hehehe… 😛 A little food humor for your Monday! I apologize… but I really do love a good second-grade joke. If you thought my joke was cheesy, just wait until you see what I have lined up for you this week. Starting with this oh so rich and luscious vegan macaroni and cheeze.
This is one of my go-to recipes for an easy lunch that I know my picky daughter will eat. I have a few different ways of throwing together a dairy-free cheese sauce, but this is my favorite version for tossing into pasta because it’s made from a good amount of veggies. All you taste, however, is creamy, saucy, cheeeeeese! Remember the Velveeta mac and cheese boxes that came with that packet of squeezy “cheese”? Well this sauce reminds me a lot of that, but minus the creepy faux-food ingredients, high sodium content, and saturated fat.
The luxurious cheeze sauce has just 5 main ingredients, and boasts vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, and plant-based protein and iron. Pair it up with whole-grain or gluten-free pasta, and you have yourself a nutrition packed lunch disguised as a comfort food favorite.
As you may have noticed, I used penne pasta in the photos above. Which is another reason the opening joke was so funny. Macaroni? That’s not macaroni! Impasta!!
Ahh, sometimes the stars just align so perfectly.
Some people might be afraid to transition to a plant-based diet because they’re worried they won’t be able to enjoy the same comfort foods they grew up with and love. I’ve seen some Instagram quotes that say it so perfectly, “Anything you can eat, I can eat vegan,” which I would change to say “whole-food/plant-based and vegan.” In other words, healthy and animal product free. Honestly, this cheezy, saucy, cozy pasta dish is just the tip of the
ice berg cheeze block. There are so many ways to creatively use vegetables, fruits, nuts, plant milks, seeds, beans, grains, and other plant-based foods to create literally anything your little comfort-food loving heart desires.
I can have this mac and cheeze ready in less than 30 minutes. If you’re organized in the kitchen, I’d say 20 minutes flat. Although I do a lot of cooking, I’m still a rather scattered culinarian. I thought about calling my blog the Kitchen Klutz, but I’m fairly sure that’s already taken.
Anyway, I’m sure you’ll have this easy-cheezy macaroni done in no time, and I’m sure you’re going to love it!
Velvety Stove-Top Mac and Cheeze – NO dairy, oil, or butter
- 8 – 12 oz macaroni, or other pasta 🙂 gluten-free or whole grain
- 1 small sweet potato, scrubbed and sliced 1/4 inch thick
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced thin
- 1/4 – 1/3 cup nutritional yeast
- 1/4 cup cashews (soaked for a few hours, ideally)
- 1-2 Tbs hemp seeds (optional, adds protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and extra creaminess)
- 3/4 cup of water
- seasonings – I like a dash of onion powder, garlic powder, paprika
- salt and pepper to taste
- Place a steamer basket in a medium pot filled with a few inches of water. Throw in your sweet potatoes and carrots and put the lid on the pot. Turn the heat to medium-high. Steam for about 10 minutes or until veggies are soft.
- Meanwhile, cook your macaroni according to directions. Drain in a colander, and put the pasta back in the pot.
- In a blender, combine water, cashews, nutritional yeast, hemp seeds, and seasonings. Blend from low until high and blend until completely smooth. Add the steamed sweet potatoes and carrots and blend again. Add salt and pepper to taste, blending until smooth and creamy.
- Pour the cheese sauce over the drained pasta, and stir to combine. Turn the heat up to medium and continue to stir. It shouldn’t need much heating up since the veggies and pasta will be warm. Once the pasta and sauce is warmed through, remove from heat, dish out and enjoy.
To reheat leftovers, add a splash of unsweetened almond milk or water and warm in a pot over medium-low heat.
Variations: Add some steamed broccoli, peas, or even stir in fresh spinach for extra veggie power!
Make it baked! I’ve also made this recipe as a baked casserole, and it’s delicious. I increased the sauce by a smidge just by increasing the water to 1 cup and adding a couple more tablespoons of nutritional yeast and cashews. Cook the macaroni but leave it a bit on the firm/al dente side. Stir the pasta, sauce, and a couple handfuls of torn baby spinach and about a 1/2 cup defrosted frozen organic peas in a large bowl. Pour into a 1 qt casserole dish and top with about 1/2 -3/4 cup of bread crumbs (you can use any kind of bread – gluten free, sprouted grain, etc. – just toast, cool and then process in your food processor until course crumbs are formed. Bake at 350 uncovered about 30 minutes or until crumbs are browned and the sauce is bubbly.
Nutrition: I don’t believe in focusing on counting calories, but I do like to know what kind of nutritional value my food has. One good sized serving of this macaroni has about 14 grams of fiber, 18 grams of protein, over 100% of your recommended intake of vitamin A, and 9% of your recommended intake of iron. Eating a vitamin C rich fruit or veggie, like spinach, along with your meal will help your body absorb the plant-based iron.