No frills here, just a simple mac n’ cheese with a kick!
This is my second mac & cheese recipe to date. My other one, Winner! Mac and Cheese Bake, is supreme to any other’s I have tried and is an easy nut based recipe. After much research, I found that vegan mac n’ cheese recipes that win contests will undoubtedly contain cashews. Why you may ask. It’s because cashews blend into a wonderful creamy texture making for a creamy sauce that can rival dairy based ones…and I agree! But I don’t always want to use the high fat nut based recipes. In comes this one which is simply made from non-dairy milk, a little oil, flour, nutritional yeast and a few spices. That’s it, and it came out great! I used almond milk for mine but you can opt for your favorite nut free non-dairy milk instead to make this nut free. This is a wonderful easy version that I can see being made again and again in my kitchen, adding steamed or roasted vegetables for variation. It may not win any contests (yet!), but for what it is it’s another winner in my book. It hits the spot completely and I think you’ll agree! Recipe inspired by the Free People Blog
Using these key ingredients will give this mac n’ cheese lot’s of flavor!
Nutritional yeast, aka ‘nooch’ or ‘savoury yeast flakes’, has a savory/umami characteristic. With its wonderful nutty, cheesy flavor it’s perfect for cheesy flavored dishes. It’s a great addition to your plant based diet! For starters it’s a complete protein containing 9 grams of protein per serving, 2 tablespoons. It’s also low in fat and sodium, and contains B vitamins. Some brands are fortified with B-12 so be sure to seek out those brands. If this is new to you, it’s a flavor that you may have to adjust too. I’ve heard many do not like like it at first, but it will grow on you and you will find it to be a useful and tasty addition to your healthy diet. If your wondering what else you can do with nutritional yeast, you can find a few more ways to use it here: Winter Potato, White Bean & Kale Soup…Spicy Kale Pesto…Tofu Scrambles…Almond Parmesan…Vegetable Frittata…Cashew Ricotta Cheese. Lot’s of ways to put nutritional yeast to use in your kitchen. You may even try sprinkling some on your popcorn!
This is an easy, versatile mac n’ cheese that will win hearts!
EASY SPICY MAC-N-CHEESE
- 8 oz. favorite pasta (I used quinoa pasta)
- 1 1/4 cups unsweetened almond milk (at room temperature)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 heaping tablespoons flour (spelt, rice, tapioca or all-purpose)
- 1/4 – 1/2 cup nutritional yeast flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/4 teaspoon chipotle powder
- mineral salt, to taste
Cook your pasta according to package. Drain and place back in pot, set aside.
In a small/medium sauce pan, heat oil over medium heat, add flour and whisk to incorporate. Continue whisking and cook for 2 minutes. Add milk slowly, whisking constantly. Turn heat to low and cook until sauce thickens, about 8 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Stir in nutritional yeast, salt, garlic powder, chili powder and chipotle powder. Stir until everything is incorporated and smooth again. Taste for flavor.
Add sauce to the pasta, toss well, add more milk as needed and serve right away.
This recipe is just a template. Add as much of the salt and spices to suit your taste. You may even like to omit the chili and chipotle opting for a mild mac n’ cheese. Or use either the chili or chipotle powder alone.
For the nutritional yeast, if using powder form reduce amount to about 1/4 cup. You can try playing around with the amount. I have used less, 1/4 – 1/3 cup, and still had a nice cheesy flavor. You may opt to start with less and add more to taste.
Toss in steamed or roasted vegetables of choice with the pasta…broccoli, brussels sprouts, sun-dried tomatoes, tomatoes, spinach, kale and corn are a few that come to mind that will work with the flavors. I’m sure I missed a few and would love to hear your suggestions in the comments below.
To reheat, add a small amount of milk and heat over low until warmed.
You may also like to top with some almond parmesan!