If you like cheese, this recipe is for you! I love creating healthy comfort foods to remind people that being vegan doesn’t mean giving up tasty foods. Health is my number one priority and because food is medicine, my goal is to create dishes that are both nutritious AND taste good. This dish is the epitome of that sentiment! I used Banza chickpea pasta, a homemade nacho cheez sauce, and DELICIOUS vegan pork rinds from Outstanding Foods.
Nacho Cheez Sauce
This nacho cheez sauce is a staple in my life – not only does it taste EXACTLY like real nacho cheez (it’s crazy!) it is packed with healthy and nutritious ingredients. It truly is guilt free! The key ingredients in the cheez sauce are:
- Light Coconut Milk
I always end up with a bit more sauce than this recipe requires – simply store it in an airtight container in the fridge for no more than a week and use as a topping on your favorite bowls, pastas, etc.
BBQ Pork Rind Crumbles
The star of this mac n’ cheez surprisingly isn’t the nacho cheez – it’s the vegan pork rinds! I love Outstanding Foods and couldn’t believe how delicious their products were when I first tried them – the idea around this baked mac n’ cheez is centered around the pork rinds! The products at Outstanding Foods are:
- Contain zero trans fats
- High protein
Most importantly, they have the texture and flavor of pork rinds without the cruelty, sodium, and saturated fat that comes with pork. It is truly an incredible product and compliments this mac n’ cheez PERFECTLY.
Healthy and Customizable Ingredients
For this recipe I used Banza Chickpea Pasta which may not be accessible for everybody. The good news is any type of pasta will work. I like Banza because I have a bit of an intolerance to gluten, so I opt for gluten-free options as often as possible. The nacho cheez sauce is made from basic vegetables that can be found in most every grocery store. The vegan pork rinds on top can be ordered online, but can be replaced with regular bread or nut crumbs. As always, I am available to help with substitutions or ideas via Instagram @theplantcollective_
Baked Mac n’ Cheez
- 1 cup cashews soak in hot water at least 25 min before using
- 8 oz potatoes
- 4 oz carrots
- 1/2 can light coconut milk
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
- 1 juice of lemon
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- 1/4 tsp paprika
- 1/4 tsp cumin
- 2 boxes banza chickpea pasta any kind of pasta works!
- 1/2 bag Texas BBQ Vegan Pork Rinds brand is Outstanding Foods
- soak cashew in hot water for at least 25 minutes
- peel & dice the carrots and grate the potatoes. add to a pot of water and boil under tender. drain and add to your blender with the 1/2 cup of water and pulse until creamy
- if your blender is full, set the blended potatoes and carrots aside. add the soaked cashews and remaining ingredients and pulse until super creamy. if the mixture is too thick, gradually add more water
- once done, store in an airtight container. this cheez can be used for a variety of recipes and will last up to a week and a half
- cook your pasta according to the package - once it’s done, mix the cheez in. depending on how much pasta you make, you may have cheez leftover. for 2 boxes of banza pasta, you will need approximately half the cheez
- pour the mac n cheez into a casserole/baking dish and pour another layer of cheese on top. set aside
- preheat the oven to 350 degrees. spray a baking tray with an oil spray (I used avocado oil spray)
- add 1/2 a bag of Outstanding Foods texas BBQ pork rinds into a food processor. if you don’t have a food processor, simply add 1/2 the bag into a bowl and crumble it with a fork or your hands
- once the oven is hot, add the mixture to your baking tray and bake for 10 minutes
- sprinkle the mixture on top of your mac n cheez dish. crank the oven up to 400 degrees and add the dish into the oven for 8-10 minutes. try not to keep it in longer than this or your pasta will dry out
- enjoy your dish within a week of making it!