Cauliflower Macaroni and “Cheese”
Cauliflower Macaroni and “Cheese”- a healthy vegan take on the classic comfort food made with pureed cauliflower, turmeric and nutritional yeast. It’s so rich and creamy you would never guess it’s dairy-free!
Macaroni and cheese is one of those foods that I could have happily eaten every single day as a child. It was right there alongside pigs in a blanket and Martha White’s muffins. Did anyone else ever eat those?! The packets were only 99-cents each and all you to do was add water? They were basically the fountain of youth.
Thankfully my brain eventually caught up with my tastebuds and I realized that eating like that is not going to do my body good. And I often find myself thinking how ironic it is that they’re called pigs in a blanket… As a kid that name sounded so fun and cute. But now all I can think about is how they should really be called pigs and other random parts in a blanket.
You could say that my diet might have upgraded from muffin packets and hot dogs wrapped in preservative-laden croissants, but I still crave macaroni and cheese like it’s nobody’s business.
However, instead of turning to convenient boxes to satisfy the child in me I try to think of ways to make it healthier by sneaking in different vegetables, like pumpkin and cauliflower.
I’ve been wanting to try my hand at a cauliflower cheese sauce since I made this vegan cream of mushroom soup. It gave the soup such a luxurious creamy texture and I knew it would perfectly for a “cheese” sauce.
The sauce is a simple combo of garlic, shallot, cauliflower, bouillon, turmeric, and nutrition yeast. Similar to the pumpkin mac n’ cheese, the turmeric doesn’t add much flavor but I like to include it for it’s anti-inflammatory benefits.
I paired it with tempeh bacon for an extra boost of plant protein and left out any bold spices so that it’s still kid-friendly. I like to serve it with whole wheat pasta but feel free to sub-in your favorite gluten-free brand.
If you’re looking for a healthy take on vegan macaroni and cheese then I highly recommend giving this one a try. I promise it’s worth the extra effort!
Cauliflower Macaroni and "Cheese"
Yield: 1 bowl
Prep Time: 15
Cook Time: 25
Total Time: 40
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 small shallots or 1/2 small onion, diced (about 1/2 cup)
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups cauliflower florets (approx.1 medium-size head)*
1/2 cup vegetable broth (I like to make my own using Better Than Bouillon)
1 cup unsweetened plain dairy-free milk
1/4 cup nutritional yeast (such as Bob’s Red Mill)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons white vinegar
8 ounces whole grain pasta
In a large pot, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallot and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally until soft and translucent, for about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, for about 2 minutes.
Add the cauliflower, 1/2 cup vegetable broth and 1 cup unsweetened plain dairy-free milk to the pot then bring to a boil. Cook the cauliflower until soft enough to mash with a fork, for about 15 to 20 minutes. When it’s done, remove from heat and set aside to cool for a few minutes.
Carefully pour the contents of the pot into a blender (preferably high-speed for smooth results). Add 1/4 cup nutritional yeast, 1 teaspoon turmeric, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and white vinegar. Blend on high until smooth, for about 30 seconds. Taste test to see if you prefer more seasonings or vinegar and adjust, as needed.
Rinse out the large pot then add enough water to cook the pasta along with a large pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Pour in the pasta and cook as directed.
Strain the cooked pasta, add it back to the pot then pour in the cauliflower sauce and stir until everything is evenly coated. Top with tempeh bacon bits (optional) then serve immediately and enjoy!
*Try to make sure you are only using 4 cups of cauliflower florets. Using more will alter the flavor of the sauce and make more than you need for the recipe.
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Click Here for Nutrition Facts
Nutrition Facts are for 1/4th of recipe
Did you try this recipe? Please let me know how it turned out by leaving a comment below or sharing a picture on Instagram with the hashtag #makingthymeforhealth. I love hearing your feedback!
Wow! This is SO healthy! What an amazing recipe! I love that you used cauliflower and made it dairy free (just like me)!! Thanks for sharing girl!
The goo is kiiiiiiilling me! It looks soooo good and I love that you use nutritional yeast to give it the cheesy flavor. I have 2 bags of BRM’s nutritional yeast in my pantry, so I can mac n cheese for dayz. Also still have the Banzo macaroni from expo, so I’m thinking this needs to be on the menu lickety split.
This looks unreal! I’m always on the hunt for new vegan mac and cheese recipes and i love how creamy yours is. I’m always craving mac and cheese too, and now there’s none of the guilt of that blue box ;) Pinning!
Sarah!!! You’re a genius!! I’ve been wanting to try my hand at a vegan cheese sauce, too, but I definitely want to make yours first. This looks so ridiculously creamy! Mac and cheese (and really anything with cheese) was always my favorite, so I love vegan versions like this.
Thanks Emilie! I hope to see your version of vegan mac n’ cheese soon!! :)
I have read that Turmeric needs Black Pepper with it to make it more useful in the body, so I added a large pinch of fresh ground pepper to the Cauliflower and “Cheese” recipe. It still tasted great. Thanks for thinking of our health besides out taste buds.
Thanks for the tip, Malccolm! I’ll have to add black pepper next time. :)
I really want to try this with some GF pasta! I’ll have to pin it for a Meatless Monday option. :) I’ve been adding turmeric to my mac and cheese for years now. It gives it such a great color without much added taste. I remember thinking how I would totally add turmeric to my future kids mac and cheese & they’d never know the difference. haha. ;)
Oh yes, you can bet I’ll be sneaking some turmeric into my kids too! ;)
I can’t get over how creamy and cheezy this sauce is!! Perfection!!
Heart eyed emojis for daysssss!!! KD was one of my staples growing up (and probably the first thing I learned how to “cook”), so mac and cheese has a super special place in my heart. And stomach. I seriously can’t believe how creamy this looks without any cheese. Girllllll… you’re a miracle worker! xo
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Looks amazing! I was literally just thinking about what to make for dinner, knowing that I wanted to use up the head of cauliflower I bought the other day. And to make it even better, I have all of these ingredients at home!
Thanks for the recipe, can’t wait to make tonight!!
Woo hoo! Let me know how it turns out if you end-up trying it! :)
Worth the extra effort, I’ll say! But I’m like that with food.. I’ll spend as much time needed to prepare something delicious! It IS worth it. No doubt way better than those prepackaged packs of yesterdays.. I’ve been there Sarah. It’s what I grew up knowing.. so how would I know any better? This recipe is just fabulous! I’ve had something similar at Plum in Seattle.. but they didn’t use cauli. I like the idea of using cauli because it just amps up the nutritional content! And it’s sooo creamy when purred! How did we ever live without our VitaMix? OMGee?!!? Love the peas! xo
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Made this recipe with my son tonight but it took us 2 hours. We had to dice the shallots and cut up the cauliflower by hand so that could be why it took longer? I also wish we had been cooking the noodles while pureeing the sauce – that would have saved time. Our sauce was really thick and wouldn’t even blend so we added probably 1/4 cup of almond milk to the blender (blend tec) – I measured everything carefully so it could just be my luck lol!
COMPLETELY WORTH THE EFFORT. Next time I will make the sauce a night ahead so its a much quicker on hand meal. My son wasn’t a huge fan of it (but he is an extremely picky kid because of overly sensitive taste buds) but even then he still gave it a thumbs up and ate about 5 big spoons!
Easy to follow recipe, looks just like KD, my only advice for others is to budget enough time in case you’re like me and for whatever reason it takes so much longer LOL!
Hi Jennifer! Thank you so much for the feedback. I’m surprised to hear it took 2 hours. It only takes me 15 minutes to chop the cauliflower, garlic and shallot but I do spend more time in the kitchen than the average person so that could be why. Maybe I should make my husband make them and time him before I post, haha!
I’m glad you enjoyed it though. Thank you!
Hey Sarah. Would it be OK to leave out the vinegar or substitute it for something else?
Hi Justine! The vinegar provides a tangy flavor similar to cheese. You can sub lemon juice but I would start with 2 tablespoons and then taste the sauce to see if you think it might need more. You could also leave it out but it won’t have as much of a “cheesy” flavor. I hope that helps!
Which dairy free milk works best?
I used unsweetened plain almond milk but soy milk or cashew milk would also work well! Just makes sure it is plain without added sugar. :)
I tried making this but didn’t turn out well at all. Was I supposed to turn the heat down once the cauliflower was brought to a boil? My sauce was very thick.
Sorry it didn’t turn out as planned, Tasha. You could always add more liquid if it’s too thick.
I just made this and wow!!!!!! It’s freaking amazing! I also had a bit of left over cheese and it works amazingly as nacho cheese dip as well, which I love but usually avoid because the store bought brands are all processed junk. You could probably add some spices to it to make it have more of a Mexican flavour but even just like this with nacho chips it’s delicious!
Your Cauliflower Macaroni and “Cheese” hit the spot today! I didn’t have any fresh cauliflower, so I used frozen (it also cut down on prep and cooking time). I appreciate your healthy and simple recipes! Thank you Sarah!