The Best Pumpkin Macaroni and “Cheese”
The Best Pumpkin Macaroni and ‘Cheese’- a super comforting meal that’s perfect for fall. It’s dairy-free and vegan, and it can easily be served with your favorite gluten-free pasta!
Are you guys ready for this? Because things are about to get real comfy up in here.
This macaroni is like a big blanket, just waiting to snuggle with you. It’s creamy, cheesy, and a little smoky with a hint of savory pumpkin flavor.
Some of you might actually remember this recipe from way back in the day. It’s one of my all-time favorites but the photos needed updating and I tweaked it slightly by adding soaked cashews to make it even creamier.
However, one component I made sure to keep was the nutritional yeast. I know it’s a foreign ingredient to a lot of people so I wanted to take a minute to chat about it.
What is nutritional yeast?
When you hear the word yeast your mind probably goes straight to brewer’s yeast. Nutritional yeast is NOT the same thing! It is dried at high temperatures than brewer’s yeast yielding it completely inactive. That means if you are someone who usually has trouble digesting yeasted or fermented foods then this likely won’t cause you any difficulty.
What does it taste like?
Often described as “cheesy” in flavor, nutritional yeast has a savory, umami taste that is slightly nutty. Some people find it to have a hint of sweetness but I personally believe it all has to do with how you’re serving it.
How do you use it?
You can find it sold in two forms: flakes and powder. My favorite is Bob’s Red Mill Large Flake Nutritional Yeast because I’ve found it has the best flavor.
I often grind it with cashews to make cashew parmesan as topping for pizza or pasta. Or I blend it in with savory sauces to give it a delicious hint of cheesiness.
Is it good for you?
Nutritional yeast is specifically cultivated as a supplement so yes, it is loaded with nutrition! It’s an excellent source of B-vitamins, folate and protein.
I hope that helps explain things a bit so that you’re not deterred from giving nutritional yeast a chance. It’s one of my go-to savory ingredients and I would have a hard time eating plant-based without it.
It’s also a key component for this pumpkin macaroni and ‘cheese’ which is seriously the BEST vegan mac n’ cheese I’ve ever had. It’s one of those that I have to pace myself with because it’s so good that I just can’t stop eating it.
What’s even more awesome is that it comes together super quick thanks to using prepared pumpkin puree. All you have to do is sauté the shallot with garlic, put that in a blender with pumpkin puree, seasonings, broth and soaked cashews (or non-dairy milk), then blend and serve with cooked pasta. Easy peasy, mac n’ cheesy.
I also like to serve it with lightly sautéed kale for a little green boost but that part is totally optional.
Please give it a try and let me know what you think because I have a feeling you’re going to love it!
The Best Pumpkin Macaroni and "Cheese"
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Prep Time: 15
Cook Time: 30
Total Time: 45
- 1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked*
- 16-ounces macaroni of choice (preferably whole grain)**
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 large shallots, diced (approx. 1 cup)
- 3-4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 15-ounces pumpkin purée
- 1 teaspoon vegetable bouillon***
- 1 cup reserved pasta water***
- 1/3 cup nutritional yeast (I like Bob’s Red Mill)
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon dried sage
- 1/2 teaspoon salt & pepper
In a large pot, bring 5 quarts salted water (I use about 1 teaspoon) to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, or as directed. Strain cooked pasta while reserving 1 cup of the cooking water.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet warm two tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook for about 3 minutes, until translucent and fragrant. Add the garlic and continue to cook for another 2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
In a high speed blender, add the pumpkin, drained soaked cashews, cooked shallot/garlic, reserved pasta water, nutritional yeast, vinegar, paprika, sage, salt & pepper. Blend on high until smooth.
Add the pasta back to the pot then pour pumpkin sauce on top. Warm over medium heat and cook until heated through. Add more salt to taste, if desired.
Serve warm with fresh sage or cashew parmesan (optional) and enjoy!
*To soak cashews: bring a pot of roughly 2 cups water to a boil. Remove from heat and add raw cashews. Allow to soak for 30 minutes. Drain and rinse before using in recipe. If you don’t want to use cashews you can leave them out and substitute 1/2 cup of the pasta water for plain (unsweetened) non-dairy milk.
**If using gluten-free pasta I recommend only cooking what you plan to eat at once and saving the leftover sauce to add to fresh cooked pasta later. Gluten-free pasta never holds up well as leftovers for me.
***Be sure to use a high quality vegetable bouillon for optimal results. I personally like Better Than Bouillon’s Vegetable Base. Adding that to the reserved pasta water helps create a really creamy and flavorful sauce. If you can’t find bouillon, you can use 1/2 cup vegetable broth instead.
Kelli suggested serving the sauce over spaghetti squash for a grain-free option in the comments which I think is a brilliant idea. Click Here for directions on how to roast spaghetti squash.
This post was created in partnership with a brand that I have used and loved for years, Bob’s Red Mill. As always, all opinions and text are entirely my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that help make it possible for me to bring you quality content. For more delicious recipes and a coupon for $1.00 off any product, please visit Bob’sRedMill.com.