Yep. You heard that right. PUMPKIN mac and cheese. Because it's fall ya'll. And because it makes for a beautiful, silky vegan cheese sauz that is to LIVE for.
Adding pumpkin purée to mac and cheese makes everything creamy and smooth like velvet. It's also a great (and insanely delicious) way to use up any leftover pumpkin purée lying around from baking pies, lattes, and all the other fall things.
It's also an excellent way to add some extra nutrients to your mac and cheese, especially compared to the unhealthy traditional version. The base of this sauce is pumpkin, cashew, and unsweetened almond milk, all of which are packed with a variety of good stuff like potassium, magnesium, niacin, vitamin B-6, vitamin D, and calcium. Pumpkin is also loaded with antioxidants and vitamin A, which has been proven to fight free radicals in the body (precursors to many chronic diseases and health problems) and protect cells from damage.
Let's get to the recipe so you can make this glorious thing ASAP!
1 box (16 oz/454 g) regular or gluten-free macaroni
2 cups unsweetened almond, soy, or oat milk
1 cup pumpkin purée
2/3 cup raw cashews
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt (add more to taste)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
pinch of cayenne
pinch of turmeric for color
Optional, for extra cheesiness: 1/2 cup shredded vegan cheese (I used Daiya's medium cheddar block)
Optional toppings: ground black pepper, paprika, vegan bacon bits, fresh parsley, hot sauce
Soak cashews in hot (not boiling) water for 30 mins.
In the meantime, bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the macaroni as per the box's instructions. Don't forget to add salt to the water for optimum flavor!
Drain cashews and add to a high-speed blender or food processor with the rest of the ingredients.
Once the cheese sauce is blended until completely smooth, combine the cooked macaroni and sauce in a large pot and heat for about 5 minutes on low. Stir frequently so the sauce doesn't stick to the bottom. Remove from heat when the sauce thickens a teeny tiny bit (you don't want it too thick!)
All the pumpkin love,