Nacho Plant-Based Mac and Cheese
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
The creamy nacho cheese sauce is finger-licking good and goes so well with the crunchy veggie mixture and noodles.
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: American
Serves: 4 servings
Cashew Nacho Cheese
  • 1 1⁄2 cups (210 g) raw cashews, soaked in very hot water for 12 minutes (see Notes)
  • 1⁄2 cup (120 ml) water
  • 1 tablespoon (8 g) nutritional yeast
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) hot sauce of choice; I prefer Cholula
  • Salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 pound (455 g) dried pasta shells
  • 1 tablespoon (14 g) coconut oil
  • 1 medium-sized yellow onion, diced
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • Salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped into bite-size pieces
  • 4 cups (268 g) chopped kale leaves
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) fresh lemon juice (optional)
  1. Make the nacho cheese: Drain and rinse the cashews, then place in a high-speed blender. Add the fresh water, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, hot sauce and salt and black pepper to taste. Blend on high speed until smooth.
  2. Make the pasta: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta shells and cook according to the package instructions. Drain.
  3. While the pasta cooks, make the veggies: In a large skillet, heat the coconut oil over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the onion and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic, season with salt and black pepper and mix well for 30 seconds. Add the bell pepper and kale. Cook for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the kale is wilted and bell pepper is soft. Add the lemon juice if using, and season with more salt and black pepper to taste.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the pasta, nacho cheese and veggies, then mix well. Divide equally among 4 bowls and serve immediately.
Notes: You can substitute raw sunflower seeds if you want a nut-free version.
If you do not have a high-speed blender, soak your cashews (or sunflower seeds) for an hour or overnight, to protect your blender.

This recipe is reprinted with permission from Vegan Buddha Bowls by Cara Carin Cifelli, Page Street Publishing Co. 2019.
Recipe by Go Dairy Free at