Growing up, Kraft Dinner was a staple in our house. Up until I was in my early twenties, I ate that neon-orange pasta on a regular basis. I loved it. Big time. Despite it being filled with so many awful ingredients like artificial food dyes (yikes!).
Since I’ve adopted a much healthier way of eating, this blue box has left my home for good, and it’s not coming back. But I still eat mac and cheese. I just make my own in a much healthier way.
The best part of this dish is that there are not only zero artificial food dyes, but also no milk, butter or flour to be found – and it still tastes delicious!
This pasta is creamy, and hearty, with a bit of a spicy kick from the paprika and cayenne pepper. Yum.
If you have a high-powered blender, like a Vitamix or Blendtec, you should be able to get very smooth cheese sauce, but even if you don’t have one of those, you can still make the cheese sauce in a food processor and though it probably won’t be as smooth, it will be just as tasty!
I only had a small half-empty box of elbow macaroni, so I made that, and then made a large batch of penne pasta to make this dish large enough to feed my entire family. Everyone gobbled it up (and some went back for seconds!).
- 2 cups elbow macaroni*
- 1½ cups raw cashews, soaked for at least 1 hour
- 1 small garlic clove, minced
- 3 tbsp lemon juice
- ¾ cup water
- 1½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast
- ¼ tsp paprika
- ¼ tsp turmeric
- ½ tsp dijon mustard
- pinch of cayenne pepper
- paprika for garnish (optional)
- Cook pasta according to package directions.
- While your pasta is cooking, add the rest of the ingredients (raw cashews, garlic, lemon juice, water, salt, pepper, nutritional yeast, paprika, turmeric, dijon mustard and a pinch of cayenne pepper) to your blender or food processor. Blend/process until smooth. It should be thick when it's ready.
- Once your pasta has finished cooking, drain, reserving ⅓ cup or so of the cooking water, then add back to the pot, with the cooking water. Mix in the cheese sauce until all of the sauce is evenly distributed.
- Serve, with some fresh parsley and more paprika sprinkled on top, if desired.
*Use gluten-free pasta to make this dish gluten-free.