I have always wanted to make a vegan cheese sauce, but never actually did so. Reason why? Literally EVERY single vegan cheese sauce recipe I come across calls for cashew nuts. Don’t get me wrong, I freaking love cashew nuts, but my wallet doesn’t really feel the same way. It feels………inadequate. #brokecollegestudentproblems
Alternative vegan cheese sauce recipes, specifically queso sauces, call for potatoes, cauliflower, carrots, or a combination. Some vegetables work amazingly as sauces–I love using boiled cauliflower as a curry base!–but what about legumes? Personally, I find beans to be one the most amazing foods on the planet. They’re nutrient-dense, cheap, satisfying, versatile, delicious, and incredibly easy to prepare if you purchase the dried variety.
While I’ve always been biased to black beans and garbanzo beans, I never discriminate. In this case, this recipe centralizes on white cannelini beans, which are actually incredible for pureed soups, spreads, and sauces due to their creamy texture and slightly nutty flavor. Navy beans have similar properties but are smaller in size and fall apart more easily, so this recipe works perfectly for them because you blend them into a slushy cheesy sauce! Did I say cheesy? Why, yes I did. Well, I technically typed it. But, you get what I mean.
How do you make a cheese sauce…without the cheese? Two words: nutritional yeast. This is essentially dried yeast from grape skin, which is known as Saccharomyces Cerevisiae, and is incredibly abundant in zinc, magnesium, folic acid, protein, is sometimes fortified with B12, and is low in fat, carbohydrates, and free of any sugars and cholesterol. Nutritional yeast has a richly cheesy, savory, and nutty flavor, which has popularized it as a cheese substitute or as a superfood in itself. From personal experience, I’ve been eating nutritional yeast at least once a day. Still not sick of it!
As of now, Explore Asian’s black bean spaghetti has been my favorite pasta to consume, which is why I’ve used it in this recipe. There’s also a review of this black bean spaghetti linked here where I show you a little tutorial on how to cook it to perfection! If you’re wondering, you definitely do not have to use black bean spaghetti noodles for this recipe. You’re more than welcome to use any kind of pasta noodles, whether grain-free or not, gluten free or not. I highly recommend using elbow pasta for a meal of healthy macaroni and cheese!
What do I love about this recipe? For one thing, everything. But in all seriousness, this pasta recipe is so filling, savory, cheesy, easy to prepare, takes almost no time to create, and can be stored as leftovers for up to five days. Everyone around you will love it, including your pets. You can also serve some vegetables or greens on the side, which is exactly what I did with my sauteed Brussels sprouts and spinach. Nobody can go wrong with these two nutrient and flavor powerhouses.
Okay okay okay, ONE more thing, I promise: am I the only one who actually LOVED putting ketchup on top of macaroni and cheese as a kid? And am I the only one who STILL LOVES it now?
- 1/2 cup + 2 TBSP nutritional yeast
- 30 ounces of cannelini or white navy beans; approximately two cans
- 1 TBSP Dijon mustard
- 2-3 tsp onion powder
- 1-2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1 cup of unsweetened cashew milk, almond milk, or vegetable stock
- Juice of half a lemon
- 8 ounces of dry spaghetti of choice; I used Explore Asian’s black bean spaghetti
- Optional: cayenne pepper, extra-virgin olive oil, tahini, paprika, cumin, rosemary, thyme, etc.
- Set a pot of water onto the stovetop and bring to a boil.
- Add in the dry pasta and cook according to instructions.
- When the pasta is ready, strain and place in a mixing bowl. Set aside.
- Drain your white beans from each can.
- Strain the beans and thoroughly rinse the brine (bubbly liquid inside the can) off.
- Blend all ingredients and optional additions (except for the spaghetti) in a food processor or strong blender until smooth.
- Pour the mixture over the spaghetti and incorporate thoroughly.
- Serve with roasted vegetables, salad greens, or by itself!
What is your favorite way of using nutritional yeast? Did you like adding ketchup to macaroni and cheese?