Creamy Mac 'N Cheese with Broccoli

Updated: Feb 7



This comforting and creamy mac 'n cheese was inspired by Glue & Glitter's Baked Macaroni and Cheese. Becky is a dear friend and talented vegan recipe creator and I always find inspiration from her tasty and creative recipes. She's the queen of simplifying recipes—I encourage you to check out her website for vegan recipe inspiration!


I modified her macaroni and cheese recipe by using whole cashews for the cheese in place of store-bought cheese to make it whole-food based and added broccoli for some green. Plus, who doesn't love some cheesy broccoli?



This recipe is:

  • SO easy

  • Super nourishing (broccoli, tofu, turmeric, ya’ll)

  • High in plant-based protein for the protein enthusiasts


It’s super creamy from the cashew cheese and crunchy from the tofu croutons. The tofu croutons bake at the same time as the Mac n Cheese — pretty convenient! If you want to use panko crumbs or whole-grain breadcrumbs in place of tofu, that's totally fine. Or, if you want to simplify it even more, skip the croutons altogether. The macaroni and cheese all by itself is still really yummy.



Nut allergy? Swap cashews with sunflower seeds.


For the macaroni, I used Eat Banza chickpea macaroni but you can use quinoa, whole grain or any macaroni of choice.


The first step—soak the cashews in water for four hours or do a quick soak in hot water for 30 minutes. You could essentially skip this step but I find that soaking really helps the cashews be more creamy. I also recommend a high-speed blender for blending the cashews and other ingredients into the creamy cheese mixture. You could certainly use an immersion blender or another blender that is less powerful than high speed, however, just know that you'll have to blend and scrape the sides several times before you reach the super creamy consistency.


Once the cashews are done soaking the cheese is easily made by throwing it all in your blender. You can also make the cheese the day before to save time. Once the cheese and pasta are made, and tofu mixed with the spices, you're ready to bake!


tofu croutons on top

Serves: 4-6

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 30 minutes


Ingredients

  • 8 oz elbow macaroni of choice

Tofu croutons

  • 8 oz firm tofu, drained well* and crumbled

  • 1 Tbsp nutritional yeast

  • 1 tsp onion powder

  • 1 tsp ground turmeric

  • 1/2 tsp salt

Cashew cheese

  • 1 cup raw cashews

  • 2 cups plant-based milk, unsweetened and unflavored

  • 1 cup water

  • 4 Tbsp nutritional yeast

  • 2 Tbsp miso (mellow yellow or chickpea)

  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

  • 1 tsp onion powder

  • 1 tsp garlic powder

  • 1 tsp ground turmeric

  • 1/2 tsp salt

  • 2 Tbsps arrowroot powder or cornstarch

Veggie

  • 2 cups broccoli florets (chopped into 1” pieces)

*Drain the tofu by gently squeezing it with both (clean) hands to release the water. Continue to work your way around the tofu, squeezing it until no more water is released. Do this over a colander in case the tofu starts to crumble in your hands, which is okay since you'll want it crumbled anyway.


Directions

  1. Make the macaroni according to directions, drain. set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

  2. Prep tofu croutons: mix all ingredients in a medium bowl until the tofu is coated with the spices. Layout evenly on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Set aside.

  3. Make cashew cheese: Add all cashew cheese ingredients to a high-speed blender. Blend until smooth. FYI, it’ll be super runny! You’re about to thicken it on the stovetop.

  4. Transfer the cheese and broccoli to a large stovetop pot. Heat over medium-high heat just until a boil.

  5. Then lower heat to medium to simmer, stirring it often to prevent the cheese from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Stir until cheese thickens, about 5 minutes.

  6. Stir the cooked macaroni into the cashew cheese mixture.

  7. Transfer the macaroni and cheese to an 8x8" or similar baking dish (I used an 8x4" loaf dish).

  8. Bake the macaroni and cheese as well as the tofu croutons (on the parchment-lined baking sheet) for 30 minutes.

  9. Once the macaroni and cheese is done (it'll be golden brown on top) and the tofu croutons are crispy, remove them from the oven. distribute the tofu croutons on top of the macaroni cheese and broil for 2-3 minutes.

  10. Remove the mac 'n cheese from the oven and let sit for 10-15 minutes. The cheese will further set during this time.


Time-saving tips:

  • Make the tofu croutons ahead of time and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or skip the croutons altogether.

  • Make the cashew cheese ahead of time and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. (Mix all cashew ingredients except the arrowroot powder and store in the refrigerator. When it's time to make the mac 'n cheese, heat the cashew cheese on the stovetop and add the arrowroot powder once the mixture is hot. Arrowroot thickens foods when it's heated.)

Did you make this recipe? Please comment below or share on social media, tagging #purelyplanted!



Nutrition information per serving (with 6 servings total): 390 calories, 24 grams protein, 34 grams net carbohydrate, 9 grams fiber, 16 grams fat, 654 mg sodium


Of note, this mac n cheese is also an excellent source of vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, folate, and vitamin K as well as minerals copper, magnesium, selenium and zinc.

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