Spicy Vegan Mac & Cheese Casserole
When I peeled myself off of the couch last night, I knew I was about to experiment on a new recipe, but this right here, was way better than I had hoped for. I was not even hungry when I made it. I was bored and tired of watching TV and scrolling online, so I decided to try making a spicy mac and cheese. I am SO GLAD I did, because this recipe is definitely a keeper. No dairy and all flavor!
You will need a food processor or high speed blender to make this yummy, dairy-free sauce. I used my food processor and it turned out wonderfully. You will also need a deep oven-safe dish. I used a 9-in round, glass casserole dish and it was the perfect size.
Some of these ingredients can be tweaked based on taste, like the types of vegan cheeses. I used sour cream and chive cream cheese and Violife Cheddar slices, but you could easily make an equally tantalizing dish with plain cream cheese and vegan shreds. I have made vegan mac and cheese in the past and have used So Delicious Shreds, smoked gouda slices, cream cheese, half and half AND sour cream. I liked it, but the flavor was too sour/tangy for my taste. This recipe is easier and it tasted much creamier. I had never tried adding in the jalapeno, bread crumbs and the queso dip, which I know are the major keys to the kick, texture and added flavor to this recipe. If you are not big on spicy, you can omit the jalapeno or use half as much, but I would definitely add a spicy vegan queso dip.
I wanted to offer some suggestions in regards to brands/cheese types that I have used and really enjoy So Delicious, The following cheeses for mac and cheese for their meltability (yea, I made up a word, butchu know exactly what it means LOL), texture and flavor.
So Delicious Shreds -- cheddar or cheddar jack both are delish and would work great. I find this brand at Whole Foods.
Smoked Gouda Slices by 365 (Whole Foods store brand) -- adds a smoky hint that is just plain good!
Violife Cheddar Slices and Shreds -- I found this brand at a variety of grocery stores like Walmart, Whole Foods, etc. Side Note: I tried the Violife Smokey flavor slices and was not a fan at all.
Follow Your Heart Shreds -- have tried it once or twice and its good!
Daiya Cream Cheeze -- I used sour cream and chives flavor and found it at several grocery stores.
Earth Grown Vegan Cream Cheese (Aldi brand) Its really good, but my Aldi stopped carrying it :-(
This recipe makes enough mac and cheese for about 8 servings. Since the recipe calls for 1/2 a head of cauliflower, you can store the other 1/2 in the fridge for another recipe like cauliflower wings or boil the whole head and make twice as much. Either way, you can save it for about a week in the 'fridge.
1/2 head of cauliflower
1 cup of plant-based milk (I used almond milk)
1/2 cup of cashews (soaked in hot water for 15-20 mins)
1 tbsp of vegan butter (I used Earth Balance)
3 slices of cheeze slices or 1.5 cups of cheeze shreds (feel free to do a blend of both!)
3 tablespoons of vegan cream cheeze (I used Daiya Chive & Onion)
3 tablespoons of plant-based queso dip (I used Good Foods brand and found it at Aldi and Target)
1 small jalapeno or 1/2 a med-large sized jalapeno, finely diced
1 tbsp of smoked paprika
1 tbsp of garlic powder
1 tbsp of onion powder
1 tbsp of cajun seasoning (I used Slap Ya Mama Cajun Seasoning)
1 tsp of Old Bay seasoning
12 oz of macaroni noodles (about 1/3 of a 2 lb box)
2 tbsp of vegan butter
1 cup of breadcrumbs (I used 100% whole wheat breadcrumbs)
- Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees
- Chop cauliflower into florets then boil in large pot for 15-20 min, uncovered
- While cauliflower is boiling, soak 1/2 cup of cashews in hot for 15-20 min
- Boil a large pot of water for macaroni; add macaroni to boiling water and cook on medium heat for about 12 min uncovered, until tender; stir periodically to prevent sticking
- Drain cauliflower and add florets, soaked cashews and seasonings to food processor/high speed blender; blend on high for 2-3 minutes, until mixture is smooth and even
- Transfer mixture to a medium or large saucepan and simmer on low heat; add butter, cream cheeze, queso dip, jalapeno, stir and simmer sauce about 8-10 min on medium heat
- Drain macaroni and transfer to oven-safe dish; stir and blend in 2 tbsp of vegan butter
Optional: add a dash of each of the seasonings to pasta (I love to season my pasta!)
- Slowly pour cheeze sauce into macaroni and mix in evenly
- Sprinkle bread crumbs evenly over macaroni
- Bake for 20-25 mins on 425 degrees
When it comes out, it should look like the bubbly goodness below. If you make it, please let me know how it turned out! Follow me on Instagram at @plantbasedtamika and subscribe to my YouTube Channel for some fun vegan-friendly videos.