I’ve been seeing all these videos recently of quick “indulgent” meals, and have been getting a lot of requests to see some of them made vegan. Recently I saw a 15 second video showing you how to make a gnocchi mac & cheese, and even though the recipe was not gluten free or vegan, it sounded delicious & I wanted to try it out myself! This recipe is incredibly easy, can be made very quickly, and is totally customizable which is great. You can also sub out the gnocchi for normal pasta, or whatever you’d like, but the gnocchi just made it that much more decadent.
We’re going to start by making a cashew cheese base, that will be used in the sauce. This is a pretty basic cashew cheese sauce, but I bumped it up a bit by adding some extra ingredients to bring more depth of flavor. You’ll want to start by soaking your cashews, overnight works best but if not, at least a half hour. Drain them, then add them to your high powered blender, with your soy creamer, almond milk, dijon mustard, white miso paste, garlic & onion granules, white pepper, salt, white wine vinegar, nutritional yeast, and tapioca flour. Blend on high for 2-3 minutes, or until completely smooth. This time will vary depending on your blender. You can set this aside until it’s needed for the recipe, and you can also save it in the fridge for about a week to use in other recipes if you’d like!
After you’ve finished your cashew cream sauce, you’ll want to make the actual sauce for your mac & cheese. The cashew cream is thick, and just a base to help flavor and give creaminess to the sauce. Add your vegan butter to a pot over medium heat until melted. Usually for mac & cheese, you would create a roux at this point, but since we added tapioca flour to the cashew cream, that will thicken it as it cooks. Add your cashew cream in next, and bring to a simmer. For the cheese part, we will be using Daiya monterey jack cheese blocks. We like to buy any vegan cheese in the block form & grate it ourselves. It melts much better, tastes better, and stretches more than the already shredded cheeses. We used one block for this recipe, so just grate that and add it to the sauce thats been heating up. Make sure to save about 1-2 tablespoons of your grated cheese to sprinkle on top though before adding to the sauce. After you’ve added in the cheese and everything is melted, add your almond milk. You’ll want to make sure you use the regular unsweetened almond milk, so that it doesn’t add any sweetness to the sauce. Whisk together until smooth, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. If your sauce gets too thick at any point, add a little more milk to thin it out. While you’re making your sauce, you can make your gnocchi. For sake of time we used store bought gluten free gnocchi, but you can use whatever you’d like, or make your own. You can also use any shape of pasta you’d like instead of gnocchi as well.
Usually mac & cheese has breadcrumbs sprinkled over the top when it is homemade. I feel like just plain breadcrumbs wouldn’t make this dish as indulgent as it should be, so I chose to add in some fresh sorrel, and sautéed shallot & garlic to make them a little more gourmet. Dice your shallot and garlic very fine, and add to a pan with a small amount of vegan butter over a medium high heat. Allow to cook until translucent, but make sure not to burn or brown them. When they’re finished, add a splash of white wine to de glaze the pan, and then pour into a bowl with your breadcrumbs. Add a little salt to the breadcrumb mixture and stir to combine. I also melted about a tablespoon or two of vegan butter separately, and added it to the breadcrumbs to that they will brown nicely in the oven. Add in your finely chopped sorrel leaves to the breadcrumb mixture just before you are about to top the mac & cheese, so that they don’t wilt too much from the heat of the butter, shallot, and garlic.
Have your oven preheated to the broil setting before you start assembling your mac & cheese. Mix your gnocchi with the cheese sauce, and transfer to individual ramekins, or a large baking dish. Once you have them all in there, top with your breadcrumb mixture, and some extra shredded cheese that you saved from earlier. Pop onto a baking sheet, and put under the broiler for about 2-3 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven, and let rest for about 10 minutes before serving, as they will be very hot!
Once they are out of the oven, you can leave them as is, or top with whatever you’d like. I like to top mine with some crushed pink peppercorns, because it adds a really beautiful color, crunch, and flavor to the mac & cheese. But you could also top these with a drizzle of truffle oil if you’d like as well!
- 1 block of Daiya Monterey Jack Cheese, shredded
- 1 pound gluten free gnocchi
- 1 cup gluten free breadcrumbs
- 3 tbs fresh sorrel leaves, finely chopped
- 3 shallots
- 3 garlic cloves
- 6 tbs vegan butter
- 1 tsp pink himalayan salt
- 2 tbs pink peppercorns, crushed
- 2 cups regular unsweetened almond milk
- 1 tbs dry white wine *optional
- 1 cup soaked cashews, drained
- 1/2 cup soy creamer (original flavor, not ones that are sweetened)
- 1 tbs white miso paste
- 1 tbs dijon mustard
- 1 tbs white wine vinegar
- 1 tsp garlic granules
- 1 tsp onion granules
- 1 tsp white pepper
- 1 tsp pink himalayan salt
- 3 tbs nutritional yeast
- 2 tbs regular unsweetened almond milk
- 3 tbs tapioca flour
- Blend all of your cashew cream ingredients together until smooth in a high powered blender and set aside.
- Melt 3 tbs of butter in a deeper pan, over medium heat. Once melted, add in your cashew cream, and shredded monterey jack cheese. Whisk until melted. **make sure to save a tablespoon or two of your shredded cheese to top the mac and cheese with later**
- Once your shredded cheese is melted, add in your 2 cups of almond milk, and whisk again to combine. Bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer until the sauce has thickened. If the sauce becomes too thick at any time, add a little more milk until thinned out properly.
- While your cheese sauce is cooking, cook your gnocchi or pasta according to package instructions, and then drain once tender.
- Finely dice your shallot and garlic, and add to a pan with the remaining 3 tbs of butter over medium – low heat. Once your shallot and garlic have become translucent and soft, add in your white wine to deglaze the pan, and then transfer everything to the breadcrumb mixture. Its okay if it seems like theres a lot of excess liquid in the pan, the breadcrumbs will soak it up, making them nice and brown once they go into the oven. Mix them well until everything is combined. Also finely chop your sorrel leaves, and add them to the breadcrumb mixture right before you top your mac & cheese.
- Mix your gnocchi with your cheese sauce, and place into individual ramekins, or into a large baking dish, and top with your breadcrumb mixture and some of your shredded monterey jack.
- Place on a baking tray, and pop into a preheated oven on the broil setting. Allow them to broil for 2-3 minutes, or until the breadcrumbs are all nice and golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Crush some pink peppercorns under the side of your knife, and top the mac and cheese with them before serving.