Creamy Avocado Mac and Cheese is about to become your new best friend! It’s vegan, gluten-free and loaded with healthy fats and fibre! So you get your cozy comfort food, while enjoying a lightened up meal for spring!
Hello friends! So we finally made it to the start of spring! Does it feel like spring where you live? It’s still a tad chilly here, and I’m still rockin’ my winter coat and boots, but I have high hopes that my spring wardrobe will make an appearance soon.
In the meantime, I have the perfect meal for this in between weather. This Creamy Avocado Mac and Cheese doesn’t actually contain any cheese (insert my husband’s distraught face here!), but it’s so creamy and filling, you’d never know it’s dairy-free!
So why go vegan with your mac and cheese?
You don’t have to follow a strict vegan diet to enjoy vegan mac and cheese. While I still eat meat, poultry and eggs, over the past few years, I’ve developed a slight sensitivity to dairy. I can eat certain kinds of yogurt, and I still enjoy a little bit of cow’s milk and certain cheeses in moderation, but for the most part, I limit my dairy intake (I miss you ice cream!).
Since I try to cook and bake with minimal dairy products, I’ve ended up creating some vegan recipes along the way. For instance, last week’s chocolate whiskey tart was vegan, and I’m also a huge fan of nice cream desserts.
Lately, with winter lingering, I’ve been missing the comforts of a good ol’ mac and cheese. So I set my sights on creating a vegan version that was lighter tasting but still filling. The brilliance of a vegan mac and cheese is that you can eat clean while still enjoying the coziness of thick and creamy comfort food!
You can use a number of different ingredients in your vegan mac and cheese to create the creamy, cheesy texture. For instance, recipes may call for blended cashews, nutritional yeast, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, coconut milk, or even vegan cheeses.
For this Creamy Avocado Mac and Cheese, I was actually inspired by my friend Christie who blogs at Christie at Home. Her recipe for Basil Rosé Pasta includes a cashew cream that was so delicious, I had to incorporate it into the avocado sauce for this mac and cheese recipe.
Christie’s recipe involves soaking cashews in water and blending them with garlic until creamy. I used this as my base, and then added an avocado, almond milk, salt, red pepper flakes and nutritional yeast.
What is nutritional yeast?
If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that I use nutritional yeast occasionally in recipes, such as in hummus and pesto. Nutritional yeast is a deactivated yeast that has a cheesy flavour, so it’s sometimes used as a substitute for cheese. It also has a flakey texture and melt-in-your-mouth quality, so it works well sprinkled on hot popcorn or pizza.
I used a generous amount of nutritional yeast in this avocado cream sauce. We’re talking in the sauce, in the pasta and sprinkled on top!
Bringing it all together
I also said this Creamy Avocado Mac and Cheese was gluten-free. Well, that’s because I used green pea rotini. Have you ever tried it? It’s made from green pea flour, so it’s not only gluten-free but it’s grain-free and a good source of fibre and protein. You can obviously use any kind of pasta you prefer. I just like the added bonus of making a grain-free pasta dish.
Aside from the cashews soaking overnight, this mac and cheese comes together rather quickly. It doesn’t require any baking. Just blend up the avocado cream sauce, cook the pasta and mix together. Throw in some additional veggies (totally optional) and serve it up!
If you like this recipe, please feel free to share it on Facebook or Twitter, or save it on Pinterest for later! And if you make it, I would love to hear about it in the comments below!Print
Creamy Avocado Mac and Cheese is vegan, gluten-free and loaded with healthy fats, fibre and protein! So you can eat clean and enjoy cozy comfort food at the same time!
For the avocado cream sauce:
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup raw cashews
- 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
- 1 medium-sized ripe avocado
- 1 clove garlic
- 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
For the pasta:
- 4 cups of uncooked green pea rotini (or gluten-free pasta of your choice)
- Plenty of water for cooking pasta
- 1 cup grape tomatoes, whole
- 1 cup red pepper, chopped
- Additional nutritional yeast and crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
- Make the creamy avocado sauce: Add the cashews and water to a resealable glass dish or mason jar, and soak for 3-4 hours or overnight. Once soaked, drain most of the water, reserving 4 tbsp. In a blender, add the cashews, reserved water, almond milk, avocado, garlic, nutritional yeast, salt and red pepper flakes and blend on high until smooth and creamy. Set aside.
- Assemble the mac and cheese: In large pot or wok, bring water to a boil and cook pasta according to package instructions. Once cooked, drain water and rinse pasta with hot water. Add the pasta back to the pot/wok, add the tomatoes, red peppers and avocado sauce, and stir to combine. Sprinkle on additional nutritional yeast and/or red pepper flakes and serve immediately.
- I like to add raw tomatoes and red peppers to this mac and cheese because it adds a nice crunch and it prevents the veggies from getting too mushy when I re-heat the pasta as leftovers. If you prefer, you can sauté the tomatoes and peppers for a few minutes before adding them to the mac and cheese.
- Store any leftover avocado cream sauce and/or mac and cheese in an airtight container in the fridge and enjoy within 2-3 days.
- The recipe for the avocado cream sauce was inspired by Christie at Home‘s recipe for cashew cream.
Keywords: avocado, mac and cheese, vegan, gluten-free