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Mac-nificant! Plant-Based Mac and Cheese

Reprinted from Plant-Powered Families by Dreena Burton (BenBellaBooks, 2015).

What You'll Need


1 medium-large yellow sweet potato (¾ lb; see tips)

2 small/medium carrots (about ¼ lb; see tips)

1 medium-large onion (see tips)


⅓ cup raw cashews (or another 2½ Tbsp tahini)

¼ cup nutritional yeast

1 Tbsp tahini

1 Tbsp tomato paste

½ Tbsp arrowroot powder

½ Tbsp mellow miso

1 – 1¼ tsp sea salt

½ tsp Dijon mustard

1 medium-large clove garlic

2 cups unsweetened nondairy milk, divided

3 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

¼ cup water


4½ – 4¾ cups uncooked pasta


½ cup bread crumbs of choice

¼ – ⅓ cup almond meal (see tips for nut-free option)

Couple pinches sea salt

How to Make It


1 Preheat oven to 450 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2 Rinse/scrub the sweet potato, carrots, and onion, but do not peel! Place whole on the prepared baking sheet.

3 Bake for about an hour, until softened and roasted (if using carrot, it won’t soften, but that’s okay because it will be pureed).

4 Remove from oven and let cool slightly while preparing other ingredients. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees F to bake pasta.


1 In a blender (high-powered works best), add the cashews, nutritional yeast, tahini, tomato paste, arrowroot powder, miso, sea salt, mustard, garlic, 1 cup of the milk, and lemon juice. Blend until mixture starts to come together and is smooth.

2 Remove peels from sweet potato and onion (no need to peel carrot).

3 Add the roasted veggies and remaining 1 cup milk and water to blender. Puree until completely smooth.


1 Pour the sauce into a baking dish (9" × 12", or 2 quart, roughly), scraping every bit from the blender!

2 Cook pasta until almost tender, then drain (don’t rinse). Transfer pasta to the baking dish, and gently mix through to coat.


1 Mix the bread crumbs, almond meal, and sea salt in a small bowl, then sprinkle over the casserole.

2 Cover the casserole with foil and bake for 15–16 minutes (if you have chilled the casserole before baking, give it another few minutes).

3 Remove the foil and bake for another 5–6 minutes, or until the topping is golden. Don’t overbake, as the sauce will continue to thicken as it stands.

4 Remove from the oven, let sit for a few minutes, and serve!

Cooking Tips

Sweet Potato/Carrot Note: If using orange versus yellow sweet potato, the mixture will be slightly sweeter, so you can use the full 1¼ teaspoon of sea salt to balance. Also, if using an orange sweet potato, omit the carrot (not needed for color), and just use the full 1 pound of orange spud!

Onion Note: The onion will become very mellow with roasting, adding a beautiful flavor that is not sharp or pungent.

Nut-Free Note: Substitute another 2½ tablespoons tahini for the cashews in the sauce, and omit the almond meal in the topping.

Copyright 2019 Center for Nutrition Studies. All rights reserved.

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