Cashew Mac and Cheese

Vegan recipes are a good start when searching for dairy free foods.  This spin on an old classic from Minimalist Baker was delicious – especially when mixed into some chili.  Nothing says comfort food like chili mac! This recipe would also be great with some bacon and/or chicken mixed into it.  I did suggest only starting with vegan recipes right?  We don’t necessarily need to finish vegan.

Cashew Mac and Cheese

yields 4 servings

10 ounces large macaroni shells
1/2 white onion, diced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup raw cashews, soaked for 4-6 hours or overnight, then drained
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp cumin
3/4 tsp chili powder
2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
1 4-ounce can diced chills (scoop half into the sauce, reserve half for the finished mac n cheese)
Optional: 1 cup tortilla chips, fresh cilantro for topping

If topping with tortilla chips, crush chips into fine crumbs and add to a baking pan lined with parchment paper or foil. Spritz with olive or canola oil, sprinkle with salt and stir, then bake in a 350 degree F oven for 10 minutes or until golden brown.

Boil macaroni according to package instructions.

In a medium skillet over medium-low heat, sautee onion and garlic in a bit of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, stir and cook until soft and fragrant – about 7 minutes. Set aside.

Add onions and garlic to a blender with remaining ingredients, omitting the tortilla chips and adding only half of the green chilies. Blend until smooth, using the “liquify” setting if you have it to get it really smooth. Otherwise just blend for up to a minute, scraping down sides as necessary, until smooth and creamy.

Drain the noodles, set aside and cover (with a towel). To the same pot you boiled the noodles in, add the cashew cheese and cook on low stirring frequently until slightly thickened.

Add the macaroni noodles to the cheese, along with the remaining green chilies and stir. Serve immediately, topping with crushed toasted tortilla chips and cilantro (optional).