As you guys know I’m open about the fact that letting go of gluten was tough but gluten’s inflammatory partner in crime, dairy, was another hard one largely due to the opioid effect of casein in cheese literally making it addictive. A lot of vegan cheeses available in grocery stores (not all) are highly processed, especially shredded cheese, so I do my best to manage my consumption. This includes testing some of my own very simple vegan “cheeses” like this sweet potato, garlic + cashew cheese!
I would be lying if I said this mac and cheese tastes just like the kind your grandma used to make filled with butter, milk + multiple cheeses. But it IS absolutely delicious, fills my cravings + doesn’t have sketchy side effects.
The base of the sauce is roasted sweet potatoes + garlic to create added flavor as well as cashews for added creaminess. However if you’re allergic to cashews or they just don’t agree with your system try steamed cauliflower, zucchini or potatoes instead!
The crazy part about this cheese sauce is I had some left over so my friend + I ate it with tortilla chips, salsa + on tacos. We confirmed it doubles as a wonderful queso.
I choose to bake the mac and cheese with breadcrumbs on top + usually add some roasted broccoli for that extra comfort food feel while sneaking in some greens. 😉 But feel free to just toss pasta into the “cheese” sauce as that’s just as tasty + very quick!
- 10 oz gluten-free pasta of choice
- ¾ cup cashews, soaked + rinsed*
- 1 small sweet potato (1 c or 165 g), peeled + diced
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1½ cup (355 ml) UNSWEETENED plant-based milk
- 2 tbsp lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp dijon mustard or miso
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
- ½ tsp sea salt
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- pinch of cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes (optional)
- ¼ cup gluten-free breadcrumbs
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- 1 tbsp vegan parmesan (optional)
- preheat oven to 400F
- soak the cashews in boiling water for ~30 minutes while you prep the vegetables
- place sweet potatoes + garlic on a parchment lined baking sheet + coat them with a drizzle of olive oil + a pinch of salt + pepper then put the baking sheet in the oven until the sweet potatoes are soft + garlic is browned, about 25 minutes
- when the sweet potatoes + garlic are finished bring the oven down to 350F + if baking combine the breadcrumb ingredients into a small bowl + set aside
- in a large pot bring water to boil with a pinch of sea salt. prepare the gluten-free pasta al dente based on the package instructions
- combine the roasted sweet potatoes + garlic with the drained + rinsed cashews, milk, lemon juice, dijon mustard, garlic powder, onion powder, nutritional yeast, salt, pepper + cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes (if using) in the high powered blender until smooth
- taste the sauce + adjust as needed. for more zing add more garlic or cayenne pepper, for a more cheesy flavor add more nutritional yeast, for more acidity add more lemon juice. use those taste buds! I added more salt + garlic powder
- if you want to forgo the baking process + breadcrumbs warm the pasta + sauce over the stove + maybe fold in some kale or broccoli. otherwise pour the pasta into an oven safe dish (I used my cast iron skillet) + pour the desired amount of "cheese" sauce over + mix (I had a little extra sauce left over but you want it to be very saucy if you plan to bake it as it'll firm up). then sprinkle the bread crumbs over the mixed pasta + spray with oil so the breadcrumbs brown. bake for about 15 minutes, watch to ensure the breadcrumbs don't burn
- let sit for 10 minutes to slightly cool + devour!
- store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. if you are reheating in the microwave be sure to place a damp paper towel over your bowl to remoisten the pasta