Make Ahead

Vegan Cashew Mac & Cheese

March 24, 2014
4 Ratings
  • Serves 4-6
Author Notes

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. —Slow Club Cookery

What You'll Need
  • 1 cup raw cashews + water for soaking
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 lb dried pasta of your choosing. I prefer rice (for gluten-free) or whole wheat elbows.
  • 1-2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil (optional)
  • 1/2 cup unseasoned breadcrumbs (optional) *not GF
  • scallions/ crushed red pepper for garnish
  1. Soak raw cashews in cool water for 1 hour. Drain soaked cashews and place them in a food processor or blender. Add nutritional yeast, salt, turmeric, pepper and pulse a few times to combine. Add lemon juice and water. Blend until completely smooth.
  2. Prepare pasta according to instructions. Drain and combine with cashew cheese. Add water, a tablespoon at a time, if sauce seems too thick.
  3. Serve as is, with garnishes of your choosing
  4. or Spread prepared mac and cheese into a greased loaf pan. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes, or until top is lightly browned. Garnish and serve.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Mary Sarah Eastman
    Mary Sarah Eastman
  • Ion Vladutu
    Ion Vladutu
  • Kate Makarin
    Kate Makarin
  • Lon Vetula
    Lon Vetula

8 Reviews

Mary S. May 2, 2019
I just made this. Very good!! It made such a huge batch! I’m thankful for that :) I didn’t do the baking option but I did add the red pepper flakes on top. Yum yum
Ion V. October 8, 2016
What was the tomato paste for?
Mary S. May 2, 2019
Part of the sauce. I know the directions forget to mention it but add it to the blender :)
Tawny February 28, 2015
I have made this multiple times and really enjoyed it. The recipe does not need any modifications in my opinion (except make sure to add the tomato paste as the actual recipe forgets to add it to the "cheese sauce"!).
Kate M. October 1, 2014
This was pretty good. I would highly recommend using half as much lemon juice and not baking it. It's very lemony with 1/2 cup. Also if you bake it the "cheese sauce" kind of dries out and gets lumpy. If you leave it as is it creamy. I will try this again this those changes.
Lon V. January 28, 2016
She said 1/2 a lemon, not 1/2 a cup...
Mary S. May 2, 2019
Yes good point! I used half a lemon and it was great :)
Tawny April 25, 2014
With a crazy dairy allergy and a past major love of good mac and cheese, I'm only trying this because everything else I've made on Food52 has been incredible! Wish me luck! I will be the happiest girl in the world if it's as delicious as I'm hoping!!!