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You know I love a good salad but when it drops to snow – like temps outside (yes looking at you 32 degrees), a warm hearty meal really does sound more appealing – like this cheesy broccoli mac. With winter fast approaching in West Michigan, I jumped at the chance to review the new Vegan Mac and Cheese cookbook from Robin Robertson. There are more than 50 plant based mac and cheese variations to choose from for the ultimate comfort food dinnertime delight.
What Does Vegan Mac and Cheese Taste Like?
Yes, I hear the tone of skepticism in your voice. So I didn’t want you to just take my word for it. I tested this recipe on friends – they are not 100% plant based but they were up for trying out a new cheesy mac recipe!
The conclusion. This is good. Like really good. Is it mac and cheese tasting? That we were not 100% on but we all agreed we loved everything going on in this dish. We come to the conclusion that it was almost a cross between Alfredo and mac and cheese. I think we settled on the Alfredo because the look of the sauce is more resemblant of a white sauce than that store bought bright orange mac and cheese stuff.
As with all things I rate a recipe good by these things:
1. Did we go back for seconds?
2. Were we excited about eating the leftovers?
3. Would I make it again?
Happy to report that the answer was YES on all these. In fact, at first I told our friends, oh…this made so much, I think I will send some home with you. BUT when it came time for dinner clean up, I conveniently forgot to do that. (sorry dear friends – I ate all the leftovers!).
If you are still on the fence if a mac and cheese that is vegan and plant based is for you, check out these other delicious recipes from vegan bloggers who also reviewed the book!
Vegan Mac and Cheese
Cheesy Broccoli Mac Soup
Vegan Thai Red Curry Mac and Cheese
Argula Pesto Mac Uncheese
How Do You Make Vegan Broccoli Mac and Cheese?
While there is some planning on that goes into this vegan pasta recipe, it is well worth it for the delicious outcome. Although, if I had not had all day to make it, I am sure I would have streamlined it a bit more! i.e. I would have remembered to cook the broccoli with the pasta and I would have toasted my gluten free panko breadcrumbs while making the sauce. But because I did have all day, I was a lazy vegan baker. Here are the main items you will need for this plant based recipe:
Cashews. If you do not have a high powered blender you will need to soak your cashews overnight. I repeat. Soak your cashews overnight. I know there are methods out there that claim you can do a quick soak in boiling water – but I have never had success with that in my non high powered blender. Soak those cashews overnight.
White Miso Paste. Do not skip this either! It adds a complex rich taste to the dish that will be missing should you decide to skip this. I love the brand below – and if you are concerned about the price, this keeps in the fridge FOR MONTHS! So you will be able to use it in vegan gravies, vegan sauces and even our Thai Salad with Miso Dressing.
Nutritional Yeast. A good brand of nutritional yeast is key to adding that ‘cheesy’ taste. If I am being honest, and I will be, I never have really liked nutritional yeast. I have tried other brands and they always left a VERY WEIRD taste in my mouth. BUT I decided to give it one more chance (3rd time is the charm, right?) and I tried the brand listed below. I LOVED IT! It does not have any synthetic additives, which maybe is what made the other brands taste so weird. This one tastes cheesy and made this mac and cheese dish, well cheesy for lack of a better word!
I am Gluten Free, Can I Eat this Mac and Cheese?
Yes! In fact, the friends we served this too, one of them has celiacs. So gluten free was a MUST. I used a chickpea pasta rotini, but feel free to substitute your favorite gluten free pasta blend. Not gluten free? No need to use gluten free pasta! Just use your favorite small pasta to make this Broccoli Mac.
The recipe also calls for a panko topping. I used gluten free panko that I toasted. I am not sure this really added any ‘taste’ to the recipe, but it adds a nice visual appeal.
Could I Skip the Broccoli?
Well, then it would not be a cheesy broccoli mac. Really, broccoli and cheese are go-to combination, so yes, broccoli is a MUST.
AND it adds a nice pop of vibrant green. Eat your veggies, folks.
So there you have it, this Vegan Cheese Broccoli Mac was a winner for our dinner guests and it will be for your family as well! If you make this recipe, we would love to know! Tag @badtothebowl on social media.
Vegan Cheesy Broccoli Mac
- 11/2 cups unsalted raw cashews, soaked overnight if you do not have a high powered blender
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon white miso paste
- 1/3 cup nutritional yeast
- 3 cups plain unsweetened nondairy milk
- 16 ounces penne, or other small pasta *gluten free if needed
- 3 cups broccoli florets
- 1/2 cup toasted panko bread crumbs or your favorite topping
- cracked black pepper
Make the Sauce
- In a high-speed blender, combine the cashews (rinsed and drained), garlic, lemon juice, salt, miso, nutritional yeast, and milk. Blend until smooth and creamy, stopping to scrape down the sides, as needed. Set aside.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook according to the package directions until al dente. During the last 4 minutes of cooking time, add the broccoli florets to the pot. Drain the pasta and broccoli and return them to the pot.
- Pour in the sauce and stir to combine. Place the pot over low heat and cook until hot. Taste and adjust the seasoning, as needed. Transfer the pasta to a serving dish and sprinkle with the toasted panko (if using) and pepper.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Lightly coat a 9 × 13-inch (23 × 33 cm) baking dish with nonstick cooking oil spray. Spread the pasta mixture evenly into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the toasted panko on top. Cover and bake for 20 minutes, or until heated all the way through.