This recipe was born on one of those days when I had a craving for hearty comfort food, which for me more often than not equates with cheese. Before I started to eat a plant-based diet, I was in LOVE with cheese. At that time anything that was or ever had been my favourite food involved cheese in some way or another. It wasn’t uncommon for Mr. Pea and I to polish off a full wheel of baked brie together or order the gooiest, cheesiest Pizza Hut take-out without thinking twice about it. So needless to say, when it comes to staying true to a whole foods plant-based diet cheese is my kryptonite. I find the best substitute is creamy vegan pasta dishes, so in perusing the grocery store that afternoon I jumped on the vegan cheese. I also decided it was time a vegan mac & cheese recipe made itself onto this blog, so voila!
This vegan mac & cheese recipe has a vibrant green spinach sauce and gets a kick of spice from Daiya Pepperjack shredded cheese and jalapeños. I rarely buy ‘fake’ vegan products such as shredded cheese but once and awhile it’s totally worth it. If you haven’t had vegan cheese before you will be surprised at how similar the texture is to real cheese (it actually melts!). It’s never going to taste exactly like real cheese but I find it’s often that cheesy texture and mouthfeel that I’m really craving. The vegan recipes I love almost always cast vegan cheese in a supporting role and let fresh in-season vegetables take center stage and in this case those veggies are spinach and mushrooms. I blended fresh spinach right into the sauce but you could also saute some spinach along with the mushrooms and mix in before baking for some added greens. You can also adjust the amount of jalapeno depending on how spicy you want the pasta to be. If you are going for a milder dish be sure to remove the seeds from the jalapenos.
Spicy Spinach Vegan Mac & Cheese
for the spinach sauce
- 1/4 cup soy milk
- 2-3 cups spinach
- 1/2 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1 cloves garlic
- 1/8 tsp garlic powder
- Herbamare (or salt) + pepper to taste
for the pasta
- 1 1/2 cups of cooked macaroni pasta
- 1/2 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
- 1 1/2 cups of sliced cremini mushrooms
- 1/2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/3 cup Daiya Pepperjack cheese shreds
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Cook macaroni pasta on the stovetop according to package instructions.
- Saute sliced cremini mushrooms in olive oil over medium heat for 8-10 minutes (until mushrooms are dark in colour and all the moisture has evaporated).
- Combine ingredients for the sauce in a high-speed blender and blend until smooth.
- In a medium bowl mix together cooked pasta, spinach sauce, chopped jalapenos, mushrooms and daiya cheese. Stir until well combined and then spoon into a small baking dish.
- Garnish with extra cheese and bake uncovered at 350 for approx. 20 min.
If you have leftvover Daiya cheese (which you will), I highly recommend making a margherita pizza style grilled cheese sandwich with fresh basil, spinach and tomatoes (try this Tomato Basil Vegan Panini recipe from Happy Healthy Life; it’s one of my favorites!).