This hearty casserole is me re-creating a childhood favorite without the dairy. Rich, hearty vegan macaroni and peas casserole is a total pan of comfort food.
Macaroni and peas is a dish that I've been eating, in one form or another, since I was very small. When my sister and I were little, my dad used to fix us the boxed mac and cheese on busy evenings. He'd "doctor it up" with spices toss in some frozen peas and carrots to add a little extra nutrition.
Mac and cheese is one of the things I missed most when I first went vegan. This macaroni and peas recipe has all the creamy goodness that I missed from childhood but without the cheese.
It's a combination of flavors and textures that I'll forever associate with comfort and nostalgia, and I'm so happy to have a recipe that satisfies that craving!
SIDE NOTE: In case you're as in love with the potholders in these photos as I am, I got them at a local craft market here in Atlanta. The maker is Danielle from Textile & Twine. I haven't been compensated in any way for mentioning Danielle's company - I just love to support local crafters, especially ones making beautiful kitchenware! She has some seriously gorgeous aprons, potholders, cloth napkins, and kitchen towels.
But back to that mac.
I'm also thrilled that I can make this old-school dish with my own kid. When we were shopping for ingredients, I asked Darrol to help me find a box of macaroni. He looked through the pasta selection and came upon a box of Casarecca.
For whatever reason, he was super into the interesting shape of this pasta. It seemed close enough to mac, so I'm calling that little change my kid's first contribution to our family recipe.
Darrol's pasta selection isn't the first variation on this recipe that's happened in my kitchen, and I'm sure it won't be the last.
I've been making versions of this macaroni and peas since going vegan, and I first posted it here way back in 2008. It's changed a bit since then, and this is my updated recipe with a few tweaks and new photos.
Here, it's "doctored up" with frozen peas and carrots and crunchy sesame seeds and rich vegan cheddar on top.
Vegan Macaroni and Peas Casserole
For the Macaroni and Peas
- 2 cups frozen peas and carrots
- 1 cup vegan cheddar shreds - (or your favorite vegan cheese, shredded)
For the Cashew Sauce
- 1 cup soy or almond milk - (or vegan milk of your choice)
- 1 cup raw cashews - soaked for 10 minutes in hot water, then drained
- 1 tablespoon tahini
- 1 cup green olives - 1/4 cup of the liquid from the can (not the stuffed kind)
- 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
- salt and pepper, to taste
For the Casserole
- 2 cups dry macaroni of your choice - gluten free is OK
- 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
Make the Macaroni and Peas
- Preheat the oven to 350F.
- Pour the peas and carrots into a large colander in the sink. They’ll defrost while the pasta cooks, and you’ll cook them to perfection by dumping the hot pot of pasta and water over them, when the pasta is done cooking.
- Cook the macaroni according to the package directions. Drain.
Make the Cashew Sauce
- Combine everything but the salt and pepper in your blender or food processor. Puree until smooth. Taste, and add salt and pepper. Blend again, and you’re ready to use.
Make the Casserole
- In a 8 x 8" baking pan, mix with the peas and carrots and Cashew Sauce. Top with sunflower seeds and shredded vegan cheese. Bake for 25 minutes, until the cheese is melted.