I don’t know if it’s just me but vegan cauliflower Mac & cheese sauce doesn’t sound inviting, but let me tell you, its flipping delicious! It has the kind of creaminess you’re used to expecting from a regular white sauce with butter, milk, flour and cheese but the source of creaminess is cauliflower! It blew my mind the first time I tried this recipe because it’s deceivingly good and makes for a bloody tasty mac & cheese on the winter days when cheesy pasta is all that will get you through the day! I’d go so far as to say that it’s easier to make than a cheese sauce made from scratch.
Just FYI, I’m not vegan and I love cheese so I didn’t go into this expecting it to taste like a carbonara creamy cheese sauce. If you go into this with an open mind, not expecting a specific taste you’ll be as obsessed as I am!
This is going to sound like the ultimate contradiction to what my body is telling me because I’m lactose intolerant but my favourite food groups are butter (insert Mean Girls quote: it butter a carb?) and cheese. Both in the dairy family, both equally delicious but I’ve come to the realise that maybe those need to be every now & then foods rather than everyday foods. So in my effort to eat more wholesome, nourishing, nutrient-rich foods I’ve been trying to find healthy and still equally delicious alternatives to my favourite dishes. Vegan Mac & cheese recipe enters stage right.
I’m hugely inspired by Sarah’s Day and how she can create incredible meals from the most basic vegetables. So one rainy Saturday afternoon, in lockdown, I challenged myself to come up with a recipe using ingredients we had in our fridge. You’re imagining a lush double door fridge filled with healthy, delicious fruit & veggies. When in actuality we had a cauliflower that was on it’s way out but thankfully not so much that I’d have to spend half an hour hacking the black bits off – ever been there? Or is this my “I’m sure it’s still fine” attitude coming through in a gross way and I’ve now exposed myself?
Anyway, let’s quickly breeze past that hiccup. Another discovery thanks to Sarah’s Day is the magic of nutritional yeast! For a good 6-9 months between 2018 & 2019 we tried to eat mostly veggies for all of our meals, to save money and reduce unnecessary spending. This is also around the time we adopted the minimalist lifestyle (you can read more about that here, if you’re interested). I’ve said all of that to say that nutritional yeast was such a great flavour additive in our veggie meals because it has a kind of cheesy taste. It’s also great sprinkled over avo toast. But especially in this recipe it packs the perfect cheesy punch!
Cauliflower, much like beans, is unfortunately one of those foods that makes everyone gassy. So just in case it isn’t obvious to any of you – this is NOT first date food (but who’s going on dates now anyway?), it’s more like a long-term relationship, okay-to-be-gassy-in-front-of-your-person food. You’ve been warned!
I can’t wait to hear what you think of this recipe, especially if you’re not vegan and are used to normal cheesy pasta! For leftovers the next day, I love adding basil pesto (recipe coming soon), chilli flakes and a sprinkle of nutritional yeast to give it some extra flavour!
Vegan Cauliflower Mac & Cheese RecipePrint This
- 1 medium head cauliflower
- 1 white onion
- 3/4 cup warm water
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 4 garlic cloves
- 2 tbs olive oil
- 3 capers & a little splash of juice (optional but highly recommend)
- salt & pepper to taste
- Cut the ‘head’ (the sticky out bit) of the garlic, to expose the raw cloves and drizzle with olive oil. Along with your garlic, roast the cauliflower & onion on 180°C until tender, about 15-20 minutes.
- Remove your tray and allow to cool slightly. Add all ingredients to the blender and blend on high until you have a smooth, creamy consistency. I used my OmniBlend V Pro which works like a dream and has my sauce ready in less than a minute.
- While your cauliflower is roasting, cook your pasta (I used the Checkers Simple Truth Gluten Free Spaghetti) in boiling water with a splash of olive oil & salt, until al dente. Reserve a cup of the pasta water before draining.
- Combine the sauce and pasta adding pasta water as needed.
- Serve with fresh parsley, a sprinkle of nutritional yeast & cracked black pepper.
Adding the pasta water allows the sauce to cling to the pasta rather than pooling at the bottom of the bowl. if I've learnt anything from Bon Appetite, it's not to underestimate the power of capers. So on your next food shop, pick them up (they're super affordable and can be found near the olives) - you won't regret it. They add the acid component to the pasta sauce which helps to balance all the flavours. I like to mix the amount of pasta & sauce we need for that specific meal and then store the extra sauce and pasta separately. That way you have the option of freeing both if you don't eat them within a week.