Vegan Macaroni and Cheese with Green Peas

Vegan Macaroni and Cheese

One of my husband's favorite comfort foods has always been mac and cheese. We don't tend to eat a lot of pasta, as my preference is to get my carbs primarily from rice, legumes, vegetables, nuts and seeds. So, on rare occasions when we get take out or dine out, if mac and cheese is in sight, there is a good chance my husband will be inclined to order it because it's not something that I made very often. All the same, I do like to indulge his comfort food cravings from time to time, but I also like to treat him to new and interesting food experiences. This grown-up vegan mac and cheese with plump green peas makes for the best of both worlds.

Though many pasta fans would think the idea of mac and cheese without cheese is an inconceivable abomination, I assure you that the cheese won't be missed. That's because the cheese substitute is not a rubbery soy-based cheese masquerading for the real thing, but actual food. Nuts are an ideal component in dairy-free cheeses, and you don't have to be a vegan to enjoy this preparation. Creamy and decadent tasting, the substance in the sauce comes from cashews — which add a rather rich element — and diced vegetables, along with nutritional yeast that imparts the cheesy flavor in what ends up as a silky sauce.

I use this rich and creamy sauce for the pasta here, but it works well as a dairy cheese substitute for any number of dishes that one might wish to add creamy cheese to, such as nachos and wraps, or consider serving it over cooked vegetables. Because it can be made as thick as you wish, it also works well as a dip for raw vegetables, pita crisps and crackers.

Although this version of mac and cheese might be vegan, and also an easier meal to digest than your traditional mac and cheese, it does not lack in the least in the comfort category, and it's actually hard to resist the urge to go for another serving. It's also a great dish to experiment with, as you can add whatever suits your fancy to enhance the refreshing flavor of the cheese sauce. Spice it up, add some zest with some vinegar, lemon or maybe even some mustard, and as I liked to enjoy it, with some tart sun-dried tomatoes added into the mix along with some sriracha sauce and paprika for heat and contrast. Or just enjoy as is with little adornment, because it really doesn't need anything at all.

Mac and Cheese with Peas

Vegan Macaroni and Cheese with Green PeasVegan Macaroni and Cheese with Green Peas
Recipe by
Adapted from Oh She Glows Every Day: Quick and Simply Satisfying Plant-Based Recipes
Published on March 1, 2019

Creamy macaroni with a vegan cashew, potato and carrot "cheese" sauce

Preparation: 25 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes

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Cashew cheese sauce:
  • 1/3 cup raw cashews, soaked in warm water for 30 minutes or longer, and drained
  • 1 medium potato, peeled and diced
  • 1 small carrot, diced
  • 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil or other oil
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons water
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • sriracha or other hot sauce, to taste (optional)
  • 8 oz (225 g) dried macaroni or other pasta
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen peas
Suggested seasonings:
  • white wine vinegar
  • sriracha or other hot sauce
  • dried herbs
  • paprika
  • sea salt
  • fresh cracked black pepper
Suggested toppings:
  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, soaked in hot water for 30 minutes, drained, and chopped
  • chopped avocado
  • dried red chili flakes
  • To make the sauce, transfer the potatoes and carrot to a medium saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer uncovered for 10 to 15 minutes, until the potatoes are fork tender. Drain well.

  • Transfer the cashews and cooked potatoes and carrots to a blender. Add the nutritional yeast, oil, water, lemon juice, salt, garlic and vinegar, and process until smooth. If the sauce seems too thick, add more water or oil. Taste for seasoning and adjust accordingly. For a bit of heat, add some sriracha or hot sauce. Keep the sauce in a well-sealed container in the refrigerator for up to a week, but if you are making it for the pasta, you'll need the whole batch.

  • For the pasta, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and stir in the pasta. Cook the pasta according to package instructions to the desired "bite". When the pasta has only about another minute or so to cook, stir in the peas. Drain.

  • Return the pasta to the pot and stir in the cheese sauce along with any desired seasonings. Cook over low heat for another minute or so until everything is well combined, heated throughout and the sauce has slightly thickened.

  • Serve hot with suggested toppings or just as is.

Makes 4 to 6 servings

Pea Macaroni and Cheese

Other vegan pasta creations to enjoy from Lisa's Vegetarian Kitchen:
Creamy Vegan Cashew Alfredo Sauce with Crispy Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Shell Pasta
Pasta Shells with Roasted Vegetables and Black Olives
Penne with a Spicy Eggplant and Mushroom Tomato Sauce
Zesty Green Pea and Jalapeño Pesto Pasta


Shaheen said...

Unlike you, we do eat a lot of pasta mostly for work lunches. Your vegan macncheese looks amazing actually and I love the colour. I am also intrigued by your topping suggestions as I never do that, but am liking it. PS like the addition of peas :)

slempress63 said...

This sounds so good I'm making it tonight for dinner thanks Lisa