I’m not going to lie and tell you that no one will believe this doesn’t have cheese. If you’re vegan, this will taste darn cheesy… if you are a true cheese lover (as my husband Jack is), you won’t be totally fooled but you will devour it anyway.
Jack likes to make fun of me when I make things like this… calls it “mac & sauce” and “vegan velveeta,” In the end he always eats his words. And most of the food on the table.
This one is just as tasty as this recipe… except this time the creaminess comes from coconut milk. The cheesy flavor comes from nutritional yeast and a kick of dijon mustard. But the star ingredient is the smoked paprika which ads a real depth of flavor.
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup earth balance vegan butter (or regular butter)
1/4 cup flour, I used spelt
3 cloves garlic, minced
squeeze of lemon
1 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup nutritional yeast (not regular baking yeast)
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons turmeric
1/4 to 1 teaspoon smoked paprika (to taste), plus a little more on top
8-12 oz elbow pasta, I used this brown rice brand
1 to 1-2 cups pasta water, use a little at a time
1 cup frozen peas
salt & pepper
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup chopped pine nuts
pinch of cayenne & smoked paprika
drizzle of olive oil on top before baking
salt & pepper
Heat butter in a medium pot over medium heat. Add onions, a few pinches of salt, and simmer until translucent (about 5 minutes). Add flour and whisk to thicken. Add garlic and cook for a few more minutes on medium-low.
Add a good squeeze of lemon and stir to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pan. Add coconut milk, nutritional yeast, mustard, tomato paste, turmeric, paprika, and a few more pinches of salt. Let simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, cook your pasta.
Optional step – vitamix the sauce together to make the sauce really creamy.
Taste and adjust seasonings. In a large bowl stir together the cooked pasta, some of the sauce, and peas. Stir in pasta water as needed to thin the sauce. You can stop here and serve this now if you like, or continue on to bake it.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place everything in a baking dish, add more pasta water and possibly more sauce. This will dry out a little while baking so make sure it’s really creamy first. Add the breadcrumbs, panko, a little more salt, cayenne, and paprika on top. Drizzle with a little bit of olive oil and bake for 8-10 minutes, just until the crust starts to become golden brown. Serve with extra sauce.