Vegan Italian Tomato Mac and Cheese! Can’t stop, won’t stop with delicious Mac and Cheese, and we’ve got an irresistible variation you just got to try!
Healthy, creamy, and all things cheesy, this oil free Vegan Italian Tomato Mac and Cheese brings all those wondrous Italian flavors together in a delightful tomatoey cheese sauce. It’s a different spin on your tradition mac and cheese, a little more sophisticated with slightly subtle Italian seasoning that makes for a powerful taste of wow!
Whole Food Plant Based, Vegan, plant based, oil free, refined sugar free, no highly processed ingredients and gluten free.
Hi there, Ameera here!
We all fell in love with this yummy mac and cheese It has a marinara-style feel to it. The rich tomatoey flavor comes through in spades and pairs perfectly with Italian infused cheesy goodness.
We honestly debated over if the dish really qualified as a mac and cheese because the sauce is almost like a bechamel. However, you want to call it, bottom line is, it’s completely and totally delicious.
We hope you give it a try and enjoy it as much as we do!
Tips for Success:
- Flavor Profile: The flavor profile of this macaroni and cheese is a marinara-style based macaroni and cheese, the rich tomato flavor really comes through. We debated on if this dish qualified for a mac and cheese or just more of a tomatoey bechamel type macaroni dish. Ultimately, we landed on a mac and cheese dish.
- Lower-Fat Dish Expectations: This mac and cheese was designed to be lower in fat than a typical WFPB mac and cheese where you typically find at least 1 cup or more of cashews. Because it is lower in fat, you are not going to experience that endorphin rush associated with eating high-fat foods when eating this dish. We would typically increase the amount cashews to give it richness, but we purposefully held back. It is very tasty for what it is, and that is a lower-fat mac and cheese. We just want to make sure that our Readers recognize this when contemplating making this recipe.
- Sautéing the Onions: Sauté the onions as you would normally do, then add a couple tablespoons of water near the end to really soften then up. You don’t want to bite into onion pieces in a mac and cheese dish.
- Amount of Pasta: While it is always tempting to use more pasta than the amount indicated in the recipe; however, resist the temptation as the amount of pasta indicated is the perfection sauce to pasta ratio. 10 oz. for a more saucey dish, 12 oz. for a nice sauce coating.
- Cooking the Pasta: Do not overcook the pasta, cook it to al dente, then drain thoroughly.
- Drain the Pasta: Make sure you take a few extra moments to thoroughly drain the pasta to avoid a watered-down sauce.
- Elbow Macaroni or Cellentani: We kitchen tested both macaroni types. We loved using elbow macaroni. For the photos, we used Cellentani macaroni.
- Gluten Free Macaroni/Pasta: Gluten free pasta is typically very starchy. Because of this, we suggest that you thoroughly rinse with cold tap water in a colander just to stop the cooking process and to get rid of excess starches. Shake off the excess water before placing in a bowl to mix with the sauce.
- Baking the Mac and Cheese casserole: You can bake this mac and cheese in the oven if you wish. We opted to go a quicker route and make it a skillet mac and cheese. If you want to bake it in the oven, you can use the Topping Ingredients from our Italian Parmesan Mac and Cheese. You will only need to bake it for 10 to 15 minutes, just until the topping is lightly golden.
- Sea Salt: Please adjust the sea salt based upon your family’s sea salt preferences and/or based upon dietary needs.
Leftovers and Freezing:
Leftovers will generally keep for 4-5 days in the refrigerator. Store in a covered container. Reheating can be done on the stovetop, or in the microwave.
This dish can be frozen; however, it is best if served immediately after making or after refrigerating leftovers. Pasta does tend to get a little mushy after freezing.
Pantry Products Used:
- Vegetable Stock: We use Pacific Organic Low Sodium Vegetable Stock. We love this brand because it is Whole Food Plant Based compliant, as it does not contain MSG, has no oil, and does not contain any highly-processed ingredients.
Kitchen Products Used:
- High-speed blender
- Large enamel/ceramic Lined Skillet or similarly large non-stick skillet
- Stock pot for boiling the macaroni
We certainly hope you give this deliciousness a try.
If you try this vegan cheesy goodness, we would love to know if you enjoy it as much as we do! Please leave us a review! Post a picture on Facebook or Instagram and tag us! We would love to hear from you.Print
Healthy, creamy, and all things cheesy, this oil free Vegan Italian Tomato Mac and Cheese brings all those wondrous Italian flavors together in a delightful tomatoey cheese sauce.
Cashew Cream Ingredients:
- 1/3 cup [raw] cashews
- ½ cup low-sodium vegetable broth *
- ¾ cup unsweetened plain plant milk
- 1 cup yellow onion, fine dice
- 2 Tablespoons minced garlic
- 1 – [ 15 oz. ] can tomato sauce
- ¼ cup low-sodium vegetable broth *
- 1/3 cup nutritional yeast
- ½ teaspoon distilled white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 Tablespoons dried minced onions
- 1 ½ teaspoons dried basil
- 1 ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- ¼ teaspoon Italian Seasonings
- ½ teaspoon dried ground mustard powder
- ¼ to 1 teaspoon sea salt (+/-) *
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper (+/-)
- Pinch red pepper flakes
- 10 to 12 oz. elbow macaroni *
Optional Topping Ingredients:
- Freshly chopped basil
- Vegan Parmesan Cheese
- Place the cashews into a small bowl, cover with boiling water, allow to sit for 15 minutes, then discard the water and add into a high-speed blender along with the remaining Cashew Cream Ingredients. Blend on high until smooth and emulsified. Set aside.
- Place all the Spice/Herb Ingredients into a small bowl, mix well, set aside.
- Cook the macaroni according to package directions to al dente, drain, rinse with cold water to remove any excess starch, shake well, set aside.
- In a large ceramic/enamel lined skillet, or non-stick skillet, add the diced onions, sauté over medium-high heat for 7 to 9 minutes to soften, then add 2 Tablespoons of water to enhance the sautéing process to make sure the onions are really tender; then add the finely minced garlic, and sauté over medium heat for one minute.
- Next add all the remaining Skillet Ingredients and Herb/Spice Mix, stir well, simmer over medium-low heat. Simmer for 5 minutes.
- Add the cashew cream mixture to the skillet, stir well to thoroughly incorporate. Simmer for 4 to 5 minutes.
- Add the cooked macaroni to the skillet, stir well to incorporate. Simmer for several minutes until the macaroni is thoroughly heated through.
- Serve with freshly chopped basil and generous sprinkle of Vegan Parmesan Cheese.
*Please reference the blog post for Tips for Success, Pantry Items Used, Storage and Freezing, and Kitchen Products Used.
*Sea Salt: Please adjust the sea salt based upon your family’s sea salt preferences and/or based upon dietary needs.
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