For those who want a vegan mac and cheese that has a little spicy kick but is not overwhelming, this is a good recipe to try. In addition to jalapeno pepper, the dish is seasoned with other spices that you probably already have in your kitchen, including paprika and chili flakes, as well as onion powder and garlic powder.
In lieu of regular cheese, this recipe calls for nutritional yeast. Similar to brewer’s yeast, nutritional yeast is available in bulk food sections of groceries and health food stores and has a naturally occurring cheesy flavor.
This recipe calls for half a teaspoon of turmeric, not so much as a spice but as a coloring agent to give your sauce the distinctive yellow color of cheddar. Known as the main ingredient in curry, turmeric is also frequently used to color products such as butter or mustard. Turmeric may also have anti-inflammatory properties and offer other health benefits.
You can choose traditional elbow macaroni for this recipe if you wish. However, because the sauce is rich and creamy, you may want to choose a pasta that has a greater capacity for holding it, such as the shell-shaped variety. In addition to the jalapeno pepper, this recipe also contains baked kale, hemp hearts, and puree of butternut squash. Therefore, you may want to choose a spiral-shaped pasta that can hold more of the chunks, such as cavatappi or rotini.
Jalapenos have a reputation for heat that is not entirely earned. Compared to some other chili peppers, they are relatively mild, making them a good choice for people who want a pepper that is not too hot but not too tame. This recipe calls for only one jalapeno pepper with most of the skin removed, as well as the seeds. If you decide you would like your dish to be a little spicier after tasting it, you can add the skin and seeds back in as desired.
Chop your kale leaves into bite-size pieces. Toss the kale pieces in olive oil and salt. Spread out onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes tossing frequently, be sure to check on them until crispy!
Cook the pasta per the package instructions. Reserve about a cup of pasta water before straining.
While pasta is cooking blend all sauce ingredients, adding some of the pasta water to thin out if needed.
Strain pasta. Add pasta sauce to the pot that the pasta was cooking in, heat until warm and add pasta, tossing to coat.
Top pasta with kale chips and fresh jalapeño if you want.
This recipe was prepared by Taisha Bell, a registered dietitian who’s focus is intuitive eating, gluten-free recipes, and living a sustainable, plant based lifestyle. You can follow her on Instagram @youeatlikearabbit or find all recipes on her website!
Michele L. Seattle, WA
Judy H. Marblehead, MA