I eat a lot more mac and cheese style dishes now that I’m vegan. Which is odd, because I did really love cheesy pasta in my pre-gan days. It’s possible I eat it more frequently now because it comes with a lot less calorie-guilt. Or perhaps because my vegan versions are so pantry friendly. Maybe it’s because there are never ending variations of vegan cheesy pastas, so a regular dinner can still feed my love of experimenting. Whatever the reason, what used to be a special occasion dish has become a staple.
This version has macaroni noodles enveloped in a silky plant based sauce. So vibrantly orange you might think it’s fake, and reminiscent in color to a certain boxed mac and cheese, but much healthier and way tastier. Roasted sweet potatoes and garlic are roasted and blended with some umami-packed ingredients. Vegetable broth and miso bring salty, savory flavor to the sauce, and nutritional yeast and vegan parmesan bring a lot of cheesy flavor. An arrowroot starched-based roux thickens and provides stretchiness to the sauce.
This recipe is really weeknight friendly, and makes a lot. Bonus, is that extra veggie goodness hiding in your pasta. Serve with some sautéed greens, or with a kale salad (PS those panfried smokey chickpeas are excellent sprinkled over your bowl of pasta) for a complete meal. Also, can we talk about how wonderful roasted garlic is? Mmm…
Let me know in the comments if you make this dish, or tag me on Instagram!
- Cashews are totally optional in this sauce. They add a little extra richness, but there is plenty of creaminess without.
- You can use either store bought vegan parmesan, or my easy recipe for nut-based parm in the recipe notes below
- If you don’t have arrowroot, try tapioca starch, all purpose flour, oat flour, chickpea flour, or a gluten free all purpose flour blend
- 1 lb pasta, gluten free if desired
- 1 large (~1½ lbs) sweet potato
- 1 head garlic
- oil for roasting
- salt for roasting
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup arrowroot*
- ½ cup cashews, soaked (optional)
- 3 cups vegetable broth
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast
- 2 tbsp chickpea miso
- 1 tsp salt, or to taste
- freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup vegan parmesan*, plus extra for serving
- Preheat oven to 425 ºF.
- Prepare the sweet potato by peeling and cutting into a large 1" dice. Place on a parchment or silicone mat lined baking sheet. Toss in a little oil and a sprinkle of salt to roast. Bake for 15 minutes, stir, and then an additional 15 minutes, or until soft when pierced with a fork, and slightly caramelized on some edges.
- Prepare the garlic by peeling off the extra papery skin and then cut the top ¼" off to expose the cloves. Pour a teaspoon of olive oil over the head of garlic and wrap in aluminum foil. Bake alongside the sweet potato for 30-40 minutes. Give the garlic a few minutes to cool before handling.
- When the sweet potato and garlic are finishing up in the oven, preheat a pot of water for the pasta. When it's ready, cook according to package directions.
- Once the vegetables are done roasting, remove from oven and add the sweet potato a blender. When the garlic is cool enough to handle pop the roasted cloves into the blender. Add the cashews (if using), broth, nutritional yeast, miso, teaspoon of salt, and black pepper and blend until smooth.
- In a heavy bottomed large pot, add the olive oil and arrow root and cook over medium low heat for a few minutes. Stream in the cheese sauce from the blender, stirring to prevent lumps.
- Cook for 5-7 minutes until hot and bubbly. Add the vegan parmesan, cooked pasta, and taste for seasoning.
- If desired at this point you can transfer to an oven safe dish, top with a little extra vegan parmesan and bake for 15 minutes, or broil for a couple minutes (watch carefully to prevent burning).
*vegan parmesan: Process ½ cup pecans, ½ cup cashews, 2 cloves garlic, 1 tsp salt, and ¾ cup nutritional yeast in a food processor until finely ground. Taste and adjust salt or garlic as desired.