This whole food plant-based macaroni and cheese contains no cashews (like most versions) and yet it’s creamy, filling, and easy. Yes, I love all that about this recipe. However, my favorite part is that my little kids think they are eating macaroni and cheese, and I know they’re actually eating chickpeas (if using chickpea pasta) and cauliflower.
Yep, deceptive deliciousness at it’s finest.
Chickpeas in macaroni form. If you haven’t tried Banza pasta yet, it’s about time you get on the bandwagon!
However, yes, you can use any pasta for this recipe!
Let’s Talk about the Sauce
Cauliflower makes the creamiest dairy-free pasta sauces! We love cauliflower alfredo, and now this cheese sauce. It uses nutritional yeast for the cheesy flavor, which has had to grow on me. At first it did not taste at all like cheese to me, and I didn’t like it much. Now, I love it, and I love how packed with B vitamins it is. If you don’t like it at first, just keep trying it. It is such a great ingredient for both flavor and nutrition. This brand, Sari, is the variety I order time and time and time again on Amazon (affiliate link). It seems expensive, but it lasts a long time and is much cheaper than cheese.
Can be gluten-free.
Plant-based and oil-free, as always!
Re-heats great for leftovers.
We love this recipe and make it really often. If you enjoy it, too, you’ll also like the Pasta Alfredo in my cookbook, Plant-Based Cooking for Kids.
A creamy "cheese" sauce made of cauliflower, but you'd never taste it!
- 16 oz whole grain or chickpea pasta (we love Banza!)
- 1 head cauliflower (using about 380 grams of florets)
- 2 carrots
- 1 small orange sweet potato/yam (about 1 cup diced)
- 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
- 2/3 cup unsweetened plant milk, such as soy or almond
- 1 TBSP lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp smoked paprika (reduce to 1/4 if you're sensitive to heat)
- 1.5 tsp salt
Cook pasta according to package directions.
(I like to also steam some vegetables to go with it, like peas or broccoli. You might have a lot of pots going on, but they clean up fast.)
Meanwhile, cut cauliflower into florets. Peel carrots and slice into thin slices so they'll cook as quickly as the cauliflower. Slice and dice the sweet potato, too.
In a medium pot, place the cauliflower, carrots and sweet potato in (or in a steamer basket) with 2 inches of water in the bottom.
In a high speed blender or food processor, add the remaining sauce ingredients, then the steamed vegetables. Blend until a smooth "cheese" sauce. If needed, add a bit more milk. Stir in 1/4 tsp black pepper (if it gets blended it can be pretty spicy).
Pour over cooked pasta and enjoy. Sprinkle paprika, salt and pepper on top, if desired.
Recipe originally published in 2019. Updated in 2023 with addition of the sweet potato, less smoked paprika and not blending the black pepper.