Best ever?! Yeah, I went there. This recipe came to me during the time that is now known as Covid-19 quarantine. Sitting at home and not knowing what to make one Sunday evening, I decided to make a chipotle cheese sauce. I had some leftover chipotles that I had frozen and thought they’d be perfect in a cheese sauce. I was correct! This vegan mac and cheese sauce was born and dare I say, it’s the best ever vegan cheese sauce I’ve tried.
Life Has Forever Changed
Let’s just get this out of the way right now, times are weird and kinda scary. I truly never imagined the year 2020 (or any other year) that the world would basically shut down and self isolate due to a global pandemic. And as much as I try to always stay positive and hopeful, during times like this, it can be difficult. For the most part the following tips are what I’m doing lately and finding it helpful:
The gym has closed in my condo building, so I’m finding new ways to move. Whether that means going outside for a solo walk, or doing an amazing class from the comfort of my condo, I’m finding ways to move. Because I work from home all the time, I know how important it is to move after being inside all day. So if you are able to get outside, I highly suggest getting out there and going for a walk.
This has been my go-to morning practice for years and it’s made such a difference during other difficult times. When I went through a really shitty breakup last year, I leaned on this practice even more. Whatever your practice looks like, I find it helpful to jot down three things that I’m grateful for each morning. I like using this journal- the five minute journal.
Staying in Touch (Virtually):
Living on my own, I’m used to alone time, but this situation feels different. As much as I’m an independent person, I still get lonely from time to time. Obviously, I can’t get together with friends and family at the moment, so I’m choosing to get online more. FaceTime or Zoom chats with friends and family is everything right now.
Limit My TV Time:
Especially the amount of news I watch. I like to be informed, but I don’t feel the need to watch the news 24/7 during times like this. I usually scroll the news online for about 15 minutes a day or so and read about what’s happening. But I don’t spend more than that watching or reading about the pandemic.
Getting More Creative in The Kitchen
I have to say, one positive thing to come from Covid-19 and social isolation has been the ability to get more creative in the kitchen. Normally, if I were to make a recipe and needed an ingredient, I’d run out and get it. But now, I’ve learned to be more creative and use what I have on hand, to avoid having to run out all the time. Plus, going out to get groceries right now isn’t very fun and I’d rather go out less.
When You Like Things Spicy
This vegan mac and cheese sauce came about because I had a craving for something comforting and cozy, but I wanted a little more kick. Enter chipotles! For this recipe, I’m using canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. This stuff has some heat! If you’re wanting to lessen the heat, definitely remove the seeds and use less of the pepper. If you’re like me and like some heat, you can remove some of the seeds but keep most in there.
What Pasta to Use
And if you want to add more fibre and protein, I love using chickpea pasta. I love these shells from Banza. Or these ones from the brand Chickapea, but just don’t cook them as long as the package states as I find these ones will get mushy. Also, always strain and rinse with cold water after cooking them.
And don’t skip the nut/seed topping because it adds a great crunch on top. I used Brazil nuts, but if you don’t have, use almonds or walnuts in addition to the sunflower seeds.
How To Prep Your Vegan Mac and Cheese Sauce
To make this vegan mac and cheese sauce, you’ll need to have a few things prepared.
- Soak Your Cashews: Remember to soak your cashews ahead of time so they’ll blend easily into this silky, delicious vegan mac and cheese sauce. If you forget (it happens to me all the time), boil some water and soak your cashews in just boiled water for about 30 to 45 minutes.
- Make the Nut/ Seed Topping: Prep the breadcrumb topping ahead of time by blitzing it in your food processor or blender. This speeds things up.
- Wash Your Greens: I love sneaking in some greens to this vegan mac and cheese, so I usually use kale. Use whatever you have on hand, have it washed and ready to go. You could also use peas, broccoli or cauliflower instead!
How to Use This Vegan Mac and Cheese Sauce
Obviously I developed this cheese sauce to be used in this mac and cheese, but you can also use it in so many other ways. I had leftovers from making a double batch and used it as a delicious nacho cheese sauce. Just drizzle some on top of your nacho plate along with anything else you want and bake it in the oven for about 8 to 10 minutes. I was desperate to make nachos, but didn’t have any black beans, so I got creative again. I defrosted this veggie burger (aka the best ever veggie burger) and crumbled it on top of the nachos. Then I topped with some salsa, red onion and guac and it was SO good!
Other ways you can use this sauce would be as a dip to chips (or nachos!), or with veggies. Of course, you could just make more vegan mac and cheese, you don’t need to bake it either, it’s good as is.
How to Store This Vegan Mac and Cheese Sauce
This vegan mac and cheese sauce should last in the fridge for about 4 to 5 days. You could also freeze it for longer. I would freeze in a jar, leaving enough room at the top, and then defrost it at room temperature. Then you could just reheat and serve.
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Vegan Mac and Cheese
A delicious and easy baked vegan chipotle mac and cheese.
For the Sauce
For the Nut/Seed Topping
For the Pasta
- 8 oz Chickpea Shell Pasta sub any other type of pasta
- 6-7 Kale Leaves de-stemmed, roughly chopped
- 2 tbsp Chives chopped
Make the Sauce
Prepare the cheese sauce by adding the drained cashews along with all other sauce ingredients and blend on high until smooth. It will be a little watery, that's ok!
Make the Nut/Seed Topping
In a blender or food processor, add the nut/seed ingredients and pulse until it is combined and still a little chunky. Set aside.
For the Pasta
Preheat the oven to 375ºF (191ºC).
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the pasta. Cook slightly less than the package directions, by about 1 minute. Drain and set aside.
In the same pot, add a splash of extra virgin olive oil and then the kale. Cook until just wilted. Add the pasta back to the pot and then add the cheese sauce (you may have some leftover). Add to a baking dish and then add the nut/seed topping on top. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, and then broil for 2 to 3 minutes on high, until just slightly crispy and browned looking. Serve and enjoy!
No Brazil Nuts: Use almonds or walnuts instead.
No Fresh Chives: Use another fresh herb such as parsley or cilantro.