Super Cheesy Vegan Meatball & Gnocchi Bake

I’ve made no secret over the years that one of the things from my old, pre-vegan life that I do not miss is cheese. I mean, cheese is good. It’s fine. It’s just no longer my jam since I’m not addicted to it. I’ve experimented with all types of vegan cheese brands and until the past few months, I’ve been underwhelmed. I’ve even done the alt-cheese thing myself, using white beans, a turmeric & nooch béchamel for pizza, a milk-based cheese-ish sauce, and even a carrot cheese. I have tried it all and made an informed decision that I can take or leave cheese.

And then, I did my semi-regular online order of vegan food from a source in Germany and…wow. This super cheesy vegan gnocchi bake was incredible. Ooey and gooey cheesy deliciousness, minus the need to keep eating and eating.

And eating.

Vegan mac & cheese requires the right vegan cheese, the rest is up to you!

If you know how to make mac & cheese then you know how to make this dish, but there are a few caveats since I got a little fancy with it.

Vegan Comfort Food ~ Mac & White Bean Cheese

Hello. My name is Natasha and I have a serious carb problem. Specifically a pasta/noodle problem.

The problem is, I can’t get enough of it. And the bigger problem is that he can’t get enough of it either.

So we’ve been eating a lot of pasta. Maybe for comfort or familiarity or maybe because is just so damn good that why wouldn’t you find reason after reason to eat it?

Let’s stop with the ridiculous questions and just talk about this incredible vegan mac & cheese that’s made with no cheese.

At tall.

Vegan white bean cheese & shells

There’s only thing that’s truly different about this vegan mac & cheese recipe and that’s the white bean cheese so I’ll keep this short and sweet.

Ingredients:
Short pasta (elbow mac, shells, whatever you like)
Garlic
Tofu/soy
Onion
Green bell pepper
Nutritional yeast
Tomato paste
Mustard
Navy beans
Lemon juice
Turmeric powder
Almond milk

Cook your pasta according to the instructions. I like to time it so that the pasta is ready just about the time to toss it with the sauce, but it’s an experience thing so…do your best.

As for the vegan cheese, rinse and drain the beans before you pop them into the food processor and give them a quick pulse, 2 or 3 times. Then add the rest of the ingredients: milk, nutritional yeast, turmeric, mustard, tomato paste and garlic, and run until smooth. Set side until you’re ready.

If you’re looking for a quick and easy vegan meal, you can skip the part where you saute the onions, garlic and bell pepper but it’s what makes it full meal with a depth of flavor that’s guaranteed to satisfy. When the veggies have been sauteed until golden, add the vegan bean cheese to warm through.

Note: If you want a gooey cheese, I recommend adding some tapioca starch.

Toss with cooked pasta and cooked tofu/soy and place into a casserole dish, cooking 15-30 minutes or until the vegan cheese sauce is thick and creamy and gooey.

And there you have it, folk, another easy delicious and totally vegan pasta recipe! Experiment with different types of beans and different flavor profiles to see just how many days man/woman can live on pasta alone!

What’s your favorite way to do vegan mac and cheese?

Cheesy Vegan Mac & Healthy Leftovers

One of the misconceptions that persists about vegans is that we are SUPER healthy since all we can eat are fruits and vegetables. First of all, I WISH!!! I have worked very hard to lose weight and get healthier but more importantly to stay healthy, but I am a human being with flaws, shortcomings and cravings.

Okay, since I cut out meat and dairy and most sugar I don’t have ‘cravings’ per se but there are times I want something that isn’t totally healthy. Or healthy…at all.

Enter mac & cheese.

Mac & cheese is something we can all relate to whether its memories of eating the crappy box variety as a kid or the fancy, multi-cheese versions served at nice restaurants. In my pre-vegan days I was a mac & cheese-a-holic, researching different types of cheese and their fat properties to see which combination would produce the gooey-est mac in town. Once I said au revoir to dairy, I learned–pretty easily–to live without cheese. Until my husband went all mad scientist in the kitchen this weekend.

This dish will turn the famous vegan stereotype on his head because even though it is still miles better on calories and fat than animal cheese versions, it ain’t pretty.

What he used:

Elbow Mac (white b/c we could find whole wheat)
Vegan pizza cheese (extra melty)
Vegan cream cheese (natural or herb works)
Nutritional yeast
Tofu in salty water (saramura is what they call it in Romania)
Plant butter
Almond milk (unsweetened)

Since I wasn’t in the kitchen but enjoying a cocktail as I finished writing another chapter in my upcoming romance novel, all I can say is that he started with a vegan bechamel sauce and slowly added the cheese and sour cream until it was thick and gooey and ready for the oven. Baked about 20-35 minutes until bubbly & crisp.

Side note: Vegan cheese doesn’t really do bubbly or crisp so do a feel test. If some of the pasta are crispy, it’s ready to come out.

This was a huge calorie bomb, about 800 calories per serving (8 servings total in a 9×13 baking dish) so we decided to let the Mac stand on its own for dinner.

The next day however, we took a few servings to my in-laws because we are on a never ending quest to add healthier food to their diets and of course, more plant based foods. They LOVED it and my mother-in-law refused to believe there wasn’t “real” cheese in it which I considered a total win.

But this brings me to the next topic. Leftovers.

I’m not one to turn my nose up at leftovers (mostly) but I’m not used to them since its just me and the husband, we usually make enough for each of us to have a serving and call it a day. It’s a tool we’ve developed to make sure we’re not constantly overeating and now that we’re both on plant based diets, it makes weight loss super easy.

I’ll bet you’re wondering how on earth could you do anything to improve this ooey-gooey cheesy vegan mac & cheese?

Easy, just add greens!

Kalettes are a cute little hybrid between Brussels sprouts (which I love) and kale (which I do not love).

They were DELICIOUS.

This was a quick & easy way to turn leftovers into a healthier lunch. I sauteed onion & garlic (no oil, just water) and then added the kalettes until they were soft and slightly wilted, then I added some lemon juice to reduce the dark bitterness of the kale. The lemon REALLY helps so if you’re not a fan of one or both of these dark leafy greens, trust me and add it.

It was delicious and easy, and did I mention delicious?

This is a perfect meal to make when you’re in the mood for something that isn’t totally healthy because you can justify it by promising to make something super healthy to go with it for tomorrow’s lunch.