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A white bowl filled with Green Chile Mac and Cheese with jalapenos in the background and a fork on the side.

Green Chile Mac and Cheese (Vegan, Gluten Free)

5 from 2 votes
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Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 8
This comforting Green Chile Mac and Cheese gets a spicy kick from green chiles and jalapeños. It's much healthier than traditional mac & cheese, using a creamy cashew-based sauce loaded with flavor. No baking required!
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Equipment

  • Large Pot (for boiling pasta )
  • Large skillet
  • Blender
  • Whisk

Ingredients

  • 16 ounces elbow macaroni - gluten free if desired
  • 3/4 cup raw cashews - if nut-free, sub with 1 small head cauliflower- *see instructions in NOTES
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted vegetable broth
  • 3 cloves garlic - minced
  • 1 medium white onion - chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour - (or use gluten-free flour blend or chickpea flour)
  • 3 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 2 4-ounce cans mild green chiles - (use only 1 can for less spicy, or additional can for extra spicy)
  • 2 medium jalapeños - seeded and chopped

Optional Additions:

  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1-2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice

Instructions

  • In a large pot filled with salted water, boil the pasta to al dente (with a slight 'bite' to it). Drain and return pasta to the pot or a large bowl. Keep warm.
  • In a food processor or high powered blender, add cashews, salt and nutritional yeast. Blend until combined and resembling a powder (consistency will vary depending on strength of machine, but try and blend until powder-like). Set aside (keep in blender).
    2 photos showing cashews and nutritional yeast in a blender, then blended into a powder.
  • In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add vegetable broth, garlic, and onion. Cook for 4-5 minutes until onion is just starting to become translucent, stirring occasionally.
    2 photos showing white onion, garlic and vegetable broth in a skillet, and cooked until soft.
  • Reduce heat to medium. Stir in flour. Then slowly add unsweetened almond milk, nutmeg , and turmeric, and stir with a whisk until blended. Cook for 15-18 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally until mixture thickens. 
    2 photos showing milk, flour, turmeric and spices added to veggies, and then stirred and thicked.
  • Add the cashew powder and stir (no need to clean blender at this time), 1 can of green chiles, and the jalapeños. Stir to combine. Reduce heat to low and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly.
    2 photos showing a skillet and adding cashew powder, jalapenos and green chiles, and then stirred and cooked until thickened.
  • Remove from heat, and transfer the sauce to the blender and carefully process until blended, starting on low speed and increasing as you go. 
    2 photos showing green chile sauce being added to a blender, and blended until smooth.
  • Return the sauce to the pot, add the remaining 1 can of green chiles (if desired). *Rinse the blender immediately so it doesn’t stain yellow from the turmeric. Simmer the sauce over low-medium heat for 2 minutes, stirring.
    2 photos showing a cashew cheese sauce in a skillet, and green chiles being added, and stirred until combined.
  • This dish is best served fresh. If serving immediately, add the sauce to the cooked pasta and stir to blend. Note: there will be a lot of sauce but it will thicken over time.
    If you are not eating all of mac and cheese at one time, it’s best to store the sauce and pasta noodles separate, as the noodles absorb the sauce over time. To make in advance/storage instructions, see notes below.
    2 photos showing a green chile cheese sauce being added to a bowl of macaroni noodles and stirred until combined.
  • Season with salt and pepper, or add a dash of cayenne pepper or lime juice, or chopped cilantro.
    A white bowl of Green Chile Mac and Cheese, sprinkled with cayenne pepper with a fork on the side.

Notes

  • As mentioned, this dish is best served fresh, as the noodles will absorb the sauce over time. However, there are a couple options for making it in advance:
    • 1) make the sauce and do not combine with the pasta, and store in an airtight container in the fridge (up to 3 days). Then make the noodles as needed, and heat the sauce in a skillet over low heat, and combine.
    • 2) make this recipe as-is, but don't combine the noodles and sauce. Store both separately in airtight containers in the fridge, and combine for each serving and heat (either using the microwave or heating over low heat on the stove).
  • Don't worry about chopping the vegetables too fine. They will be blended later.
  • Turmeric will stain plastic so be sure to store the sauce in a glass or ceramic container. Also avoid using white plastic or wood utensils as they will also stain.
*Nut-Free Instructions:  
  1. In a large pot, boil pasta until al dente. Rinse and return pasta to the pot or a large bowl.
  2. In a food processor or high powered blender, add salt and nutritional yeast. Do not blend yet.
  3. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the vegetable broth, garlic, and onion. Cook for 4-5 minutes until onion is just starting to become translucent, stirring occasionally.
  4. Stir in flour. Then slowly add unsweetened almond milk, nutmeg and turmeric, and stir with a whisk until blended. Reduce heat to medium. Cook for 15-20 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally until mixture thickens. Add the 1 can of green chiles, and the jalapeños. Stir to combine. Transfer the sauce to the blender.
  5. Meanwhile (while the sauce is thickening), break the cauliflower into florets and add to a large pot of boiling water over medium-high heat. Boil about 8-10 minutes, or until soft.
  6. Drain and add cauliflower to the blender with all other ingredients. Carefully blend until smooth, starting on low speed and increasing speed. Transfer back to the pot and simmer for 2-3 minutes over medium heat.
  7. Add the cooked pasta to the sauce. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1.25cup | Calories: 338kcal | Carbohydrates: 54.9g | Protein: 11.4g | Fat: 8g | Sodium: 320.6mg | Sugar: 3.9g
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