My mom’s mac and cheese was famous growing up.
We’d beg her to make us for us when we were kids because Mac & Cheese night was always the best night of the week. And birthday, holidays you name it – I always wanted her to make her Mac & Cheese for every special occasion. I would have eaten her Mac & Cheese every night of the week if I could.
And who could blame me? Her mac and cheese was the best! I still dream of my mom’s Mac & Cheese to this day and sometimes wish I could teleport her to Europe to make it for me. It’s that good.
Until I made this Healthy Dairy Free Mac and Cheese that is (sorry mom if you are reading this – I’d still love for you to come visit!).
I always loved helping my mom in the kitchen – measuring the ingredients, helping her stir and listening carefully to her instructions. It was even better when she’d let me in on family traditions and secret ingredients. And when my mom taught me her number one requested recipe you’d be sure she let me in on all her tips & tricks.
And today, I share with you something super special & close to my heart. My mom’s secret ingredients in her famous Mac & Cheese. And I’m sure she won’t mind – she’s a teacher and they are all about sharing knowledge and stuff 😉 Love you, mom!
My mom’s now-not-so-secret ingredients in her Mac & Cheese:
Worcestershire Sauce – Gives the Mac & Cheese that irresistible & subtle tangy flava. *Traditional Worcestershire Sauce isn’t vegetarian, so I used Annie’s brand which is.
Mustard – Acts as a background ingredient and adds that extra oomph, bringing out the comforting flavors in the sauce.
Fried Onions – Enough Said. A bit of sweet & savory caramelized onions in any pasta sauce is always a good thing. 😀
This Healthy Dairy Free Mac and Cheese is super creamy, comforting, warming, luscious, cheesy, saucy, and kinda tastes just like my mama loves to make. 🙂 Thanks, Mom!
- 500 grams/ 17.6 ounces macaroni*
- 1 red onion, chopped
- 2-4 cloves garlic, chopped
- ¼ cup water or 2 tbsp olive/avocado oil (to "fry" garlic & onions)
- ½ head cauliflower, chopped into 1 inch pieces
- ⅓ cup cashews*
- ⅓ cup nutritional yeast OR Parmesan cheese*
- 3½ cups soya milk
- ⅔ cup pumpkin puree*
- 2 tbsp tahini
- 1 tbsp pine nuts (optional)
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
- ½ tbsp Dijon mustard
- ½ tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- ½ tsp nutmeg
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- ⅓ - ½ cup breadcrumbs
- Chili Flakes (optional)
- Boil and cook 500 grams (17 oz.) macaroni until very al dente. *If you are baking the Mac & Cheese in the oven under-cook the noodles for 1 - 2 minutes*
- On medium heat, saute the chopped red onion and garlic in water or 2 tbsp avocado/olive oil in a large pot (I used water).
- Once the onions and garlic are browned, add chopped cauliflower with soy milk, cashews and nutritional yeast to the pot. Boil and simmer until the cauliflower is soft.
- Remove the cauliflower mixture off the element and blend the mixture with either an immersion (stick) or regular blender.
- Once the sauce is creamy and smooth, add pumpkin puree, tahini, pine nuts, vinegar/lemon juice, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and nutmeg to the creamy mixture. Blend until creamy. Add salt and pepper to taste and simmer for another 2 minutes on the stove-top.
- Add the macaroni and mix until all the noodles are evenly coated with the sauce!
- Eat now or..
- Pre-heat oven to 430F or 220C.
- Pour Mac & Cheese into a casserole dish (I used 2 liter/2 quart size). Cover with breadcrumbs and chili flakes.
- Bake in the oven for 30 minutes.
- Remove the lid and broil for an extra 5 - 10 minutes to get a nice and crispy top.
- Allow to cool slightly, dig in & enjoy!
2) Nut-free/ lower fat version: Leave out the cashews & pine nuts. The sauce will be less creamy this way but still delicious. I always make it this way for my mom who has a nut allergy and she loves it!
3) Ensure the Parmesan cheese is vegan if necessary (if substituting for nutritional yeast.
4) Substitute pumpkin puree with sweet potato puree or any sweet squash puree
5) The Mac & Cheese will keep well in the fridge in a sealed container for up to a couple days.
If you do try this Healthy Dairy Free Mac and Cheese or any other recipes of mine, I love hearing about it! Insta or Tweet it to me (@cearaskitchen with hashtag #cearaskitchen) or Facebook it to me via the Ceara’s Kitchen Facebook Page!
For more Mac & Cheese Recipes follow the Ceara’s Kitchen Mac & Cheese board on Pinterest! 🙂