Mac and Trees (Vegan)

mac and trees

If you switch to a plant-based diet, you will find that you love eating this way, yet there are a few foods you miss. For me, it’s my childhood favorite, macaroni and cheese. In an attempt to find a satisfying yet healthier version, I tried many of the vegan mac and cheese recipes that are floating around the internet. Several recipes call for mustard (WHY???) and taste like, well, mustard. I finally found this recipe, which was close enough to what I wanted when I left out certain ingredients and added what I like to make it a little more nutritious. My version is one I’ve been making for my husband for a while now, so it’s officially Picky Husband approved!

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Original macaroni & cheese has very few nutritious qualities, and really shouldn’t be part of our children’s diets. It contains pasta made with white flour (which becomes sugar), saturated fat and cholesterol in the form of cheese, and lots of sodium. My version of mac and trees is made with brown rice pasta (shells), broccoli (or baby broccoli), cashews, nutritional yeast, onions, tomato paste, and garlic. It is non-dairy, easy to make, and incredibly satisfying. It would make a great side dish to go along with my portobello bears!

Nutritional yeast adds a little extra cheesy flavor and B vitamins.

Nutritional yeast adds a little extra cheesy flavor, plus B vitamins.

Mac and Trees (Vegan)

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 35 min
  • Difficulty: easy/medium
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 8-10 oz. pasta of choice (I use brown rice pasta shells)
  • 2 T. Earth Balance
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, diced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 T. flour (I used GF)
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2 cup cashews, pre-soaked and drained
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1.5 T. tomato paste
  • Dash of paprika
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 broccoli crowns, or tops of 2 bunches of baby broccoli, chopped
  • Panko crumbs for topping (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (if baking like a casserole). Bring large pot of water to a boil.
  2. In a small saucepan, heat Earth Balance and saute onions over medium heat until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and flour, stirring constantly, for about 2 more minutes.
  3. Add the almond milk, cashews, nutritional yeast, tomato paste, and paprika, and cook for 5 more minutes on medium-low heat.
  4. Pour mixture (carefully, it’s hot!) into blender and blend until smooth. Add additional almond milk to reach desired consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
  5. Cook pasta according to package instructions. When pasta is 2-3 minutes away from being al dente, add the broccoli to the boiling pasta water and cook with the pasta until pasta is done and the broccoli is fork tender (but still firm).
  6. Drain pasta and broccoli, and transfer to a casserole dish. Pour the blender contents over the pasta and stir until evenly distributed.
  7. Serve as is, or sprinkle panko crumbs over the top of the dish and bake for 10 minutes.

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Enjoy!

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