Thursday, December 3, 2009

Macaroni and Cheese with Cauliflower and Tomato

Today was another one of those days when I was out running around almost the entire day. I had a great day with my girlfriend Sue. We went shopping, bought some vegan cookbooks, had a great vegan lunch, stopped at Home Goods, and went to the health food store. Since I don’t have time for a full update on that I will post it tomorrow morning. We had a blast and really picked up some great stuff that I want to share with you.

It was after 5 pm when I got home tonight and I really wasn’t hungry since we had a big lunch. However, the hubby needed to eat so I had to make dinner. Once Janet, at Meatless Mama, posted her macaroni and cheese earlier this week I have been thinking about it ever since and knew that was going to be dinner tonight.

I had soaked my raw cashews a couple of days ago and stored them in the refrigerator so I could make macaroni and cheese tonight. Since we don’t typically eat a lot of pasta I wanted to add some veggies to the dish to reduce the total amount of flour consumed. We had bought cauliflower at the farm market this weekend and since that works so well with cheese I thought it would be great here. Additionally we had grape tomatoes that I wanted to use so those went in the dish as well. I thought about wilting in a little fresh spinach or arugula but decided that may be a little too far from macaroni and cheese. This dish is more healthy than a dairy based macaroni and cheese but isn’t as healthy as most of my recipes. But …. sometimes you just want a little comfort food.

The texture of the sauce is thick and very much like a cheese sauce. I have discovered that if you soak the raw cashews in water for a few hours and drain the water it improves the texture. Soaking seems to soften the cashews so that you get a texture that is much more silky. Here is what I made tonight.

Macaroni and Cheese with Cauliflower and Tomato
Makes 6 servings


1 yellow onion, peeled and thinly sliced
½ cup water
½ cup oatmeal, dry
1 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight in the refrigerator
2 ½ cups water
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
¼ cup nutritional yeast
¼ teaspoon turmeric, or as much as you need to achieve the yellow color of your choice
¼ teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
½ tablespoon hot crushed pepper (wet hots)
4 cups cauliflower florets, cut into small bite size florets
3 cups grape tomatoes cut in half
13.25 ounces whole-wheat pasta
2 green onions, finely sliced


Start 6 quarts of water boiling to cook the pasta.

Water sauté the onion until it is soft.

Place the oatmeal in your blender and puree until it is finely ground like flour.

While the onion is cooking make the sauce. Add the cashews, water, garlic, nutritional yeast, turmeric, salt and pepper to your blender with the oatmeal and puree. If you think the color should be more yellow add a little more turmeric and puree again. Be careful not to add too much turmeric or you can end up with a sauce with a bitter undertone.

Pour the sauce in the pan with the onions and simmer to thicken. Add the hot crushed pepper and reduce the heat to low and keep it warm while you cook the pasta.

Add the pasta to the boiling water and be certain to stir for the first 15 – 30 seconds to keep the pasta from clumping together. Add a handful of salt to the water to flavor the pasta. Cook the pasta until it is al dente (about a minute or two less than the package indicates). Al dente pasta has a low glycemic index than fully cooked pasta. A lower glycemic index has less impact on blood sugar so I always cook my pasta al dente.

While the pasta is cooking steam the cauliflower. I do this with a steam insert in the pasta pot and pull the cauliflower as soon as it is tender. This took 7 minutes for me.

When you start the cauliflower steaming add the tomatoes to the “cheese sauce so they can begin to soften a little.

Add the tender cauliflower to the “cheese” sauce and leave the heat on low. Toss to combine all the ingredients.

Toss the al dente pasta with the sauce and serve. Top with sliced green onion or cilantro.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 424.03
Calories From Fat (19%) - 78.47

Total Fat - 9.29g
Saturated Fat - 1.32g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 560.97mg
Potassium - 913.32mg
Total Carbohydrates - 72.26g
Fiber - 12.5g
Sugar - 8.46g
Protein - 18.26g


This really is a total comfort food dish. It would be perfect on one of those cold or rainy nights. Both the hubby and I really enjoyed this tonight. It would also be good with broccoli florets in the sauce. Additionally I would have liked a little freshly minced parsley on this as a garnish (which would add some vitamin K).

I think this sauce is mild enough in flavor that you could feed it to children. However, you may want to reduce the hot crushed peppers, but I found them to be extremely mild, just a background note. The garlic flavor is also not assertive.


  1. Oh! This Mac n Cheese looks really good and comforting! I usually don't eat Mac n Cheese because I don't like cheese but your no cheese version sounds so interesting to me. I'll give it a try and can't wait to find out how Nathan likes it (Mac n Cheese is his favorite food).

  2. I love any dish with cooked cauliflower, garlic too, people shouldn't be afraid to use garlic liberally, it's so healthy and adds such flavor.

  3. Sounds really tasty! So, what vegan cookbooks did you buy? I'm glad to hear you had a really fun day.

  4. I want to hear where you had a vegan lunch.

  5. Good morning all, nice of you to comment so quickly.


    I hate to admit this but I really used to love cheese. This version is the closest I have gotten to a mild "cheese like" sauce. The hubby was telling me last night the texture of this sauce was my best yet. I hope both you and Nathan like it.


    Being part Italian I love garlic. So much so that I buy it from Costco in a big bag that probably has 30 heads. You are right it is so healthy I think we should all eat more of it.

    Michelle (blessedmama),

    Two of the four books I bought were vegan "The Conscious Cook" and "The Candle Cafe Cookbook". The vast majority of my cookboks aren't vegan. I find omni cookbooks to be great inspiration and love to use them as ideas for new healthy vegan meals. I am going to write a proper post on all the events of yesterday later this morning.


    We had lunch at Great Sage and then stopped by Roots. I was commenting to my friend Sue that I have become quite the old hippy in such a short period of time. However, we both had a great day. I am going to write a post about it as soon as I respond to all the comments from last night.

    I hope you all have a wonderful day today,

  6. Thanks for the link Alicia, you are so sweet.

    Your vegan version looks amazing, I love the tomatoes in it. I am printing it out to try next time we are in the mood for macaroni and cheese. Thanks!

  7. Janet,

    You are very welcome. After you made macaroni and cheese I couldn't stop thinking about it. It was one of my favorite comfort foods.

    My hubby loved this. He thought it was my best faux cheese sauce yet. The texture was quite good and I think that soaking the raw cashews overnight made all the difference in the sauce. I hope your family likes it too.


  8. One of your ingredients is as follows:

    ½ tablespoon hot crushed pepper (wet hots)

    What are wet hots?

  9. Appledoozy,

    Hot crushed peppers is a jarred product that is finely minced pickled peppers. Where we live they use them on sandwiches as a condiment. Here is a link to the ones I buy so you can see what they look like.

    I use them for the acidity and heat. You can also use a little tabasco as a substitute.



Related Posts with Thumbnails