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Author Notes: I am allergic to milk (seriously!), and have followed a vegan diet since I was 11. I'd been playing around with this recipe for awhile, and finally nailed it a few years ago. I used to call this "Healthier Mac & Cheese," but then I A) realized that was lame, and B) started adding in extra goodies, hence the fancy new name. I change it up constantly, but lately can't get enough of this version (which is STILL "healthier," by the way!). I use roasted butternut squash, caramelized onions, soaked raw cashews, full-fat coconut milk, and nutritional yeast for the "cheese," and add in my favorites: buffalo sauce, black truffle oil, vegan protein, veggies, and avocado to make it a filling meal that never disappoints. —Amandah
Serves 4 (with extra "cheese sauce" that goes with everything)
The "Healthier Mac & Cheese" Base
- 1 packet Brown Rice Pasta (I use Tinkyada brand)
- 1/2 Medium-Sized Butternut Squash (roughly 2 cups)
- 1 teaspoon Olive or (Melted) Coconut Oil
- 1 Can Full-Fat Organic Coconut Milk (~13 oz)
- 1/2 cup Raw Cashews, soaked for 2+ hours
- 1/2 Medium-Sized Yellow Onion, thinly sliced
- 2 Cloves Garlic, minced
- 1 cup Nutritional Yeast
- 2 tablespoons (More, Melted) Coconut Oil
- 2 tablespoons Whole-Grain Mustard (or your favorite Dijon)
- 1 cup (or more!) Green Veggie(s) of choice (I love peas, broccoli, and/or brussels sprouts (charred if the latter))
- 1/2 Lemon, juiced
- 1-2 teaspoons Turmeric
- 1/2-1 teaspoons Smoked Paprika
- pinches Cayenne, Sea or Pink Salt, Cracked Black Pepper (all to taste, be generous with the pepper!)
- OPTIONAL: 2-4 drops Liquid Smoke
- (all of the above, plus)
- 1-2 tablespoons Truffle Oil (I've used white & black, both are fab, but I prefer black)
- 1-2 tablespoons Olive or (Melted) Coconut Oil
- 2-3 tablespoons (be generous!!) Buffalo Sauce (my favorite is Wing Time MEDIUM [the only vegan one] Buffalo Wing Sauce)
- 1 Avocado, chopped
- 2 2 Field Roast Hand-Formed Field Burgers (25g plant-based protein EACH + made with goodness and available most places)
- Begin by roasting your squash (I think it smells like creme brûlée!), preheat your oven to 450.
- Place halved and seeded squash onto a lined baking sheet and drizzle with olive or coconut oil (about 1 teaspoon or less). Rub the oil in to cover the squash. Bake for 1 hour, and set aside to cool completely.
- Cook pasta according to package directions. This should only take 8-10 minutes. When pasta is 80% done, toss in peas (if using) to save a dish! Drain. Set aside.
- Warm a skillet over medium heat. Add coconut oil, onions, and garlic, and saute. Stir occasionally. Cook until fragrant, golden, and slightly translucent, about 5+ minutes. Sometimes I toss in a little agave nectar to caramelize them even more, optional.
- If squash has cooled, use an ice-cream scoop or spoon to scoop flesh out of squash (save or discard the seeds). Add to blender.
- Add the remaining ingredients: coconut milk, cashews, onion and garlic mixture, nutritional yeast, lemon, mustard, buffalo sauce, and spices to blender and blend to combine. Taste. Adjust seasoning as desired.
- Toss cooked pasta with truffle oil and set aside.
- Chop Field Roast burgers and cook with olive or coconut oil over medium-heat, stirring occasionally, for 8-10 minutes until you have nice, crispy charred bits.
- In a large bowl, fold pasta, cheese sauce, burger crumbles, and avocado together.
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Recipe with a Smarty Pants Trick or Technique