While I don’t think we should need an excuse to make lots of warming comfort food, I will gladly use the dropping temperatures as motivation to make as much as I want. This vegan mac & cheese really hit the spot, and this recipe made enough sauce that I can use the leftovers on nachos or on more pasta later in the week.
This plant-based sauce is my favorite because it is oil-free, nut-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, cruelty-free and it has an amazing smooth texture. If you’re looking for a substitute to the boxed stuff, definitely be aware that the taste of this sauce doesn’t remind me of a cheese sauce from a box or the kind made with real cheese (or vegan faux cheese). The texture and appearance is very similar, but the taste isn’t the same since this is made from whole plant foods.
I’ll be honest: If your palette isn’t adjusted to simple and pure plant-based eating, you might not love this, so I’ve suggested some things to add below to enhance the flavor.
Either way, if you’re curious to try something different with ingredients that are easy to find, this is definitely one to try. You basically just need to boil up some potatoes and carrots then add those to a blender with some spices and blend it until very smooth. That’s it! I love to serve mine with some stewed tomatoes on top to kick up the flavor, or even a little squirt of ketchup. It’s also fun to try adding difference spices, peppers or sriracha as well.
This recipe is adapted from Chef Mark Anthony to be oil-free, vegan and just as delicious.
- 1 box of your pasta of choice (I used chickpea pasta from Banza)
- 3 medium Yukon Gold potatoes (or 2 large)
- 3 regular sized carrots
- 1 cup water reserved from boiling the potatoes and carrots
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast (add more if you desire)
- 2 tbsp freshly-squeezed lemon juice
- 1 clove minced garlic
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon or brown mustard
- 1/8 tsp paprika
- 1/8 tsp turmeric
- Prepare your pasta as directed on the box and set aside (you can do this at any point. I like to make the sauce ahead of time and store it in the fridge and add to fresh pasta).
- Scrub potatoes and carrots (peel if desired). Chop potatoes and carrots into cubes about 1 inch thick.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add potatoes and carrots and boil for about 10-15 minutes, until fork tender.
- While the potatoes and carrots are boiling, add the rest of the ingredients (except the pasta) to a bowl.
- Once the potatoes and carrots are soft, reserve about 1 cup of water from the pot.
- Drain the rest of the pot and add the potatoes and carrots to a high-speed blender, or scoop them out of the pot and transfer them to the blender, taking care not to add too much extra water to the blender.
- Add about 1/2 cup of the reserved water to the blender and blend on high until smooth. Add more water as necessary to reach your desired consistency. I ended up adding about 3/4 cup of water.
- Add in remaining sauce ingredients and blend until smooth. I blended for about 3-4 minutes until it was absolutely silky and smooth. (If you don’t have a high-quality blender you might not be able to get it super silky.)
- Add the sauce and mix it with your pasta until you’ve got the right amount (you will have leftover sauce!). Feel free to add any toppings you might like (crushed red pepper, stewed tomatoes, ketchup, etc.) and store the remaining sauce in the fridge for up to a week.
The best things in life are simple if you ask me. If you have never tried hummus on your pasta, here is a simple recipe (or really, more like an idea) to get you started. I have experimented using homemade hummus and various brands of hummus, but by far my favorite to use is Hope Foods Original Hummus. It just has a slight tang to it and is such a nice texture for combining with tomato sauce.
If you give it a try, do let me know. I haven’t met anyone yet who hasn’t loved this simple pasta idea. It has definitely become my go-to when I’m craving a simple creamy pasta dish but am short on time.
- 8 oz box of pasta
- 1/2 cup Hope Foods Original Hummus
- 2 cups pasta sauce
- 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved (optional)
- 3 tbsp chopped basil or parsley (optional)
- freshly-ground black pepper (optional)
- Cook pasta according to directions. Drain and set aside.
- Heat pasta sauce on stove and stir in hummus.
- Combine pasta and sauce together, adding in tomatoes, basil or parsley if you’d like.
I’ve never made baked ziti before, and can only remember having it maybe a couple times growing up. It definitely wasn’t a staple dish in my household, likely because of the cheese required (my mom is lactose intolerant/not a baby cow). This veganized version with crispy shaved brussels sprouts has me wanting to make it every single week — it was seriously that good.
When the awesome people at Banza sent me a box of pasta to participate in their May campaign to promote plant-based eating, they included a box of ziti, which had me perplexed. I guess I could have just cooked it and used it like penne, but I felt that it was time I stepped up to the plate and make some cheesy baked ziti!
I can honestly say that this is probably the most comforting dish I have ever made. It was also super rich, so I was definitely satisfied after a serving (or two!), and had plenty of leftovers for the next couple of days. What makes this super comforting is the way the homemade cashew cheese sauce mixed with the rich pasta sauce. And then of course how it mixed with the pasta, crispy brussels sprouts and vegan parmesan cheese. Did I mention the basil yet? That really helped too.
So basically, what makes this so delicious and comforting is everything. Every single thing.
I just can’t wait to whip this one up again. If you give it a try, please let me know how it went. It’s also pretty difficult to mess this one up. I provided plenty of details below, but in short, what you are doing is roasting the shaved sprouts then combining a bunch of stuff in a casserole dish, mixing it up and baking it.
This was made using a 10×7 inch casserole dish.
- 1 box of Banza ziti chickpea pasta
- 1 1/2 cups of raw cashews, soaked 4-6 hours (you can boil them for a few minutes instead of soaking, but I find they are creamier when soaked)
- 1 1/2 cups of shaved Brussels sprouts (I removed the stem part and thinly sliced them lengthwise)
- 1 tbsp avocado oil
- 24 oz jar of pasta sauce
- Juice from 1 large lemon
- 3/4 cup of water
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 1/8 tsp salt, or as much as you’d like to taste
- 1/4 cup vegan parmesan (I used Follow Your Heart brand)
- 2-3 tbsp freshly chopped basil
- Preheat oven to 400°F / 200°C.
- Toss shaved (thinly sliced) Brussels sprouts with avocado oil in a bowl using just enough oil to coat the sprouts. Spread sprouts on a sheet pan and place in the oven to roast for 15 minutes. Add salt and pepper if you’d like.
- While Brussels are roasting, make the cashew sauce. Drain and rinse the soaked cashews and add them to a high speed blender or food processor (I use a Vitamix). Add in lemon juice, water, garlic, nutritional yeast and salt. Blend until very creamy, scraping sides as you go.
- Once Brussels sprouts are done roasting, remove them from the oven and reduce oven temperature to 375°F / 190°C.
- Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the ziti per the directions on the box. (I cooked mine slightly shorter than usual since this whole dish will go in the oven and cook further in there.) Drain the pasta (do not rinse).
- Assemble the casserole:
- Add a layer of pasta sauce to the bottom of the casserole dish.
- Add in half of the cooked pasta.
- Add more sauce over the first layer of pasta and stir to make sure the ziti is coated.
- Add a few heaping spoonfuls of cashew cheese all over the ziti.
- Add half the Brussels sprouts in a thin later across the top. Try to choose the ones that are more blackened to go in this layer.
- Add half of the vegan parmesan by sprinkling it evenly across the top.
- Add the rest of the pasta, pasta sauce and few more spoonfuls of the cashew cheese on top of this. You will likely have a good bit of cashew cheese leftover unless you went absolutely crazy with it (which I recommend if you have the space).
- At this stage, I started to pack down everything in the casserole dish with a spoon.
- Add the rest of the Brussels sprouts across the top along with the basil and the rest of the vegan parmesan.
- Bake at 375°F / 190°C for 20-25 minutes. Remove and allow to cool for a few minutes before serving.