I love this recipe. And I’m way, way too excited about it.
Tender pasta. Drenched in a smoky, creamy, goldenrod sauce that makes its way into every nook, cranny, and tunnel of pasta. Sounds a lot like mac & cheese, doesn’t it?!
And it looks like it, too.
But it’s not! Because there’s no cheese! Or milk, for that matter. This Vegan Stovetop Mac & Cheese is made with sweet potatoes, butternut squash, coconut milk, and a few other veggies, spices, and dashes of this and that until it achieves creamy stovetop mac & cheese perfection. All sans dairy. Oh, and at just under 400 calories per serving!
This vegan macaroni and cheese recipe came about for a few reasons.
- As I’ve alluded to here and there lately, I’ve been making some dietary changes lately, the most notable being I’ve eliminated dairy. Which also seems to have almost completely eradicated some weird health problems (namely, heart palpitations) that I’d been having. Physically, I feel much better without dairy. Mentally, well. I miss it quite a bit. See #2.
- I love, love, love macaroni and cheese. It’s been my favorite foodstuff since as long as I can remember. This mac and cheese recipe is, in fact, far and away the most popular I’ve shared on Kitchen Treaty. Not that I ate it constantly, but, dang. I miss the stuff.
- I recently learned that butternut squash is the best thing to add to mac & cheese since, well, cheese (Exhibit A). But, as much as I love the recipe linked in Exhibit A, I have some guilt over just how fattening it is. It’s, like, pretty dang fattening. So I sought to make a lighter version.
- This Sweet Potato Nacho Cheese. I tried it and I loved it and I kept thinking of everything I should try it in, mac & cheese included. This recipe ended up being a far cry from the original sweet potato nacho cheese, but it definitely inspired my use of sweet potato in this recipe.
So! We’ve got butternut squash and sweet potatoes. Then we saute up some onion and garlic. Smoked paprika and dry mustard make an appearance, plus a little veggie broth to keep things light (and add flavor). We puree it all with some coconut milk, soy sauce, and a few other flavor-enhancers. And that’s the uber creamy dreamy sauce!
Know another thing that’s cool about this recipe? This is a vegan macaroni and cheese recipe without nutritional yeast. I know many – okay, most – vegan “cheese” recipes call for nutritional yeast – it adds an uncanny “cheesy” flavor (not to mention vitamin B12), after all. I tried it in this recipe, and I did like it. But I wanted to make this a recipe that feels accessible to everyone. I’d like to think I’m fairly adventurous in the kitchen, and I only just last month convinced myself to try nutritional yeast (affectionately known as “nooch,” which sounds worse than “nutritional yeast” in my book). I just thought it sounded weird. And gross. And weird. (By the way – I’ve since decided I love the stuff). And if you want to add it nutritional yeast, you should! But ultimately, I just decided it really wasn’t necessary in this recipe.
For the photos here, I used white pasta. But whole wheat pasta (particularly penne) is also great. And I’d imagine that rice pasta would also be pretty swell, if you desire.
Creamy, dreamy, easy stovetop mac & cheese without the cheese. I’m completely in love, and I would like for it to be my Valentine.
Super Creamy Vegan Stovetop Mac & "Cheese"
- 8 ounces penne or macaroni pasta (shells and rotini are also good*)
- 3 cups diced butternut squash (about 1/2 small squash)
- 1 medium sweet potato (peeled and diced (about 2 cups))
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup chopped yellow onion (about 1/2 medium onion)
- 1 medium clove garlic (minced)
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt + more to taste
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper + more to taste
- 1/2 cup vegetable broth
- 3/4 cup canned coconut milk (lite works also; the sauce may just be a bit thinner)
- 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon Tamari or soy sauce (to taste)
- Fill a large pot 2/3 full with water and place over high heat. Once boiling, add a few generous pinches of salt and add the pasta. Cook according to the time on the package until al dente. Drain and return to pan (off heat). Set aside.
- While the pasta is cooking, fill another large pot 2/3 full with water and place over high heat. Add the squash and sweet potatoes. Bring to a boil and cook until the veggies are fork-tender, 7-8 minutes. Drain and add to the pitcher of a heat-proof, high-powered blender (I use a Vitamix).** Set aside.
- Place a medium saute pan over medium heat. When hot, add the olive oil. Add the onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for another minute. Add the dry mustard, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper. Stir. Remove from heat. Pour in the vegetable broth and stir to release any of the browned bits of onion and spices. Pour into blender pitcher. Add coconut milk and 1 teaspoon soy sauce. Puree until completely smooth. Taste and add additional soy sauce, a teaspoon at a time, to taste, along with more salt and pepper if desired.
- Pour sauce over cooked pasta in the pan. This recipe makes a lot of sauce (because I like it saucy!) so you might not want to use it all. Stir gently with a wooden spoon until all of the pasta is coated. Serve.
More comforting veggie-and-pasta goodness
- Creamy Pumpkin Baked Rigatoni from Kitchen Treaty
- Whole Wheat Penne with Butternut Squash, Roasted Red Peppers, and Crispy Parmesan Circles from Oh My Veggies
- 15-Minute Creamy Avocado Pasta (vegan) from Oh She Glows
- Sweet Potato “Pasta” (vegan) from My Whole Food Life