Growing up in a household with a woman born and raised in a small southern town of Gaffney, South Carolina, mac and cheese was a special dish made for most Sunday dinners, every holiday dinner and sometimes for birthday dinners. So when I decided to mimic my mother’s creamy, dairy-packed macaroni dish into a unique vegan creation, I knew what I was up against … potentially made a cardboard-tasting dish that was absolutely revolting. Good thing, after searching Pinterest and YouTube, I created a unique vegan dish that could truly be eaten by itself, guilt-free.
P.S. This recipe will yield 1-2 large pans of mac and cheese. The most important step is the vegan cheese sauce. Let’s get to work!
Step 1: Cheese Sauce Recipe
unsweetened, unflavored almond milk
I large (or 2 medium) golden potatoes
1 bag of carrots (3-5 carrots)
2 garlic cloves
mild hot sauce
Boil unsalted cashews, golden potatoes and carrots until they are nice and tender. As a rule of thumb, boil cashews in a separate pot from the potatoes and carrots.
Once cashews swell twice their size (or until they are tender when you take a bite into it), drain in a colander. Follow the same exact process for your potatoes and carrots.
Take drained cashews, carrots and potatoes and add to a blender. Add unsweetened, unflavored almond milk to the blender. Blend contents until you get a creamy, thick and smooth sauce. You may have to continue to add more almond milk until the consistency is just right.
Once sauce is creamy, add 2 whole cloves of CHOPPED garlic to the blender. PULSE until you can no longer see chunks of garlic.
P.S. If you are considering skipping out on the cashews you will regret it. The softened cashews create a nice and creamy sauce that truly mimics the consistency of normal dairy cheese sauce.
Turn on stove to medium heat and transfer vegan cheese sauce concoction from the blender into a sauce pan.
Season cheese sauce with suggested seasonings (including the mild hot sauce) above. Please, please, please take your time to properly season your sauce in layers. Season, taste and access if the sauce has enough flavor for you. Taking the time to do this will definitely create a yummy, delectable sauce.
Allow the sauce to mellow out for 25-30 minutes for flavors to truly mingle together.
Step 2: Combine Cheese Sauce & Macaroni
At this point of the recipe, you have already done the hard part. Now, it is time to put it all together. For the end of the recipe, you will need …
1 large box of elbow macaroni (or any pasta of your choice)
Soy Cheese (I used a Colby jack and mozzarella soy blend mixture from Trader Joe’s)
Boil elbow macaroni until al dente (remember, you will be baking the macaroni in the oven with the cheese sauce, so you do not want to overcook your macaroni in the boiling water).
Drain pasta and put inside a baking dish.
Add vegan cheese sauce to your pasta, a spoonful at a time. Mix sauce and pasta until nice and coated.
P.S. If you find that you mac and cheese is super dry and dense, take some of your almond milk and pour a bit into the dish and stir until the consistency is nice and creamy.
Add some of your soy cheese into the baking dish and stir until incorporated with the macaroni and cheese sauce.
Top off your mac with more cheese and bake at 375 for 30-40 minutes or until the cheese has melted and your macaroni is heated (all the way through) and creamy. Again, if you need to add more almond milk to create a more creamy mac, please do so (pour bit by bit AND stir gently). Do not DROWN mac in almond milk.
Serve warm with your favorite meal and enjoy!