Pasta and saucy goodness is shining bright in this ultra-comforting dish. A veganized classic favorite, this Vegan Lentil Hamburger Helper will transport you back in time. Homemade deliciousness is brimming with “cheezy” tangy flavors! Lentils and elbow macaroni are coated in a creamy, dreamy cheeze sauce that will have the whole family giving high-5s at the dinner table. Brimming with healthy, wholesome ingredients, it tastes even better than what you can find in a box, this dish is sure to put a smile on your face.
Whole Food Plant Based, vegan, plant based, oil free, refined sugar free, gluten free, no highly processed ingredients.
- 1/3 cup raw cashews
- ½ cup yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- ¾ cup vegetable broth *
- ¾ cup water (or broth)
- 1 to 2 Tablespoons ketchup *
- 2 Tablespoons unsweetened plain plant yogurt
- 1 cup unsweetened plain plant milk
- 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon hot sauce *
- ¼ teaspoon liquid smoke
- 1 Tablespoon low sodium tamari *
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast
- 1 – [ 14 oz. can ] brown lentils, drained and rinsed (or 1 1/3 to 1 1/2 cups cooked) *
- 2 ¼ cups uncooked elbow macaroni *
- 1 Tablespoon dried minced onion flakes
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon sweet paprika
- 2 to 3 teaspoons dried ground mustard powder *
- ½ teaspoon sea salt (+/- to taste) *
- Pinch black pepper
Pasta Boil Instructions
- Fill a large stock pot full of water. Add some sea salt to the water (optional). Bring the water to a boil then add the pasta. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.
Note: You want to coordinate the completion of the pasta cooking time with the completion of the sauce. If unsure, then just wait to put the pasta into the boiling water once the sauce is done. Just turn the sauce down really low or remove from the stove. Boil the pasta until just el dente, do not overcook, drain, rinse with cold water to remove any excess starch, shake well, then transfer the cooked pasta into the sauce.
- Place the cashews in a small bowl, cover with boiling water, set aside for 20 minutes, then drain off the water until ready to use. Note: for a quicker method, boil cashews in water for 10 minutes, then drain and set aside until ready to use.
- Place the Spice/Herb Ingredients into a small bowl, mix, set aside.
- In a large ceramic/enamel lined Dutch oven/pot or similarly large stockpot/skillet, add the finely diced onion, sauté over medium-high heat for 5 to 7 minutes until the onions are tender. (If needed to prevent sticking, add a splash of vegetable broth or water).
- Add the minced garlic and sauté for one minute, add the Spice/Herb mix, stirring constantly for 30 seconds, just to release their fragrance. Then add the plant milk, vegetable broth, water, yogurt, nutritional yeast, ketchup, nutritional yeast, liquid smoke, distilled vinegar, tamari, hot sauce, and soaked cashews, simmer for 5 minutes, then remove from the stove to cool slightly.
- Place the sauce it into a high-speed blender and blend on high for one minute (or longer) to make the mixture creamy and smooth, then return to the cooking pot and simmer for 5 minutes. The sauce will still be thin but will thicken up later. Taste test for flavor, ramp up any spices or flavoring as needed at this time to reach the desired flavor.
- Stir in the cooked pasta and lentils. Simmer for 4 minutes to allow the flavors to marry. The sauce will still be somewhat thin at this time – don’t worry. Remove from the heat and allow to set for 10 minutes. This will allow the sauce to tighten up and become a nice thick sauce.
- After resting, serve and enjoy!
*Thickness of the sauce: This sauce starts out very thin and almost soupy, but as with any cashew-based sauce, it will tighten up after it starts to slightly cool. Removing from the stove and waiting 10 minutes will work perfectly for tightening up the sauce, as it will cool down just enough to tighten up, yet still be perfectly hot to eat. Additionally, if there are any leftovers, the sauce will really tighten up in the fridge, so you may need to add a splash of water when reheating leftovers.
*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.
*Tamari: We used San J Tamari Soy Sauce, Gluten Free, Reduced Sodium. You can substitute the tamari with reduced sodium soy sauce, Braggs Liquid Aminos, or Braggs Coconut Liquid Aminos.
*Dried Ground Mustard Powder: We really enjoyed the flavor that the 3 teaspoons of dried ground mustard bought to the dish; however, we did have one family member that preferred the lower amount of 2 teaspoons in one of the kitchen tests. You may wish to start lower (2 teaspoons) and increase to 3 teaspoons as we did if you prefer more flavor. You can always add more flavor after you have pureed the sauce and returned it to the pot. We used 3 teaspoons.
*Ketchup: You can use your favorite ketchup. Start on the lower side of 1 Tablespoon and increase to 2 Tablespoons if you prefer more tang flavor. We used 2 Tablespoons. Here is a WFPB ketchup.
*Hot Sauce: We used Frank’s RedHot Original Hot Sauce, but any hot sauce will do.
*Pasta of choice: You can use your favorite pasta in this dish. We used brown rice elbow macaroni. We used Tinkyada brand brown rice elbow macaroni.
*Cooked Brown Lentils: We used canned Delallo Lentils. We love them for their convenience and firm texture. They are never mushy and work perfectly in this dish. Our local supermarket carries them in the “Italian Specialty” aisle next to the pasta. You can certainly use your own cooked green or brown lentils in this dish, you just want to make sure they are not mushy. Red lentils would not work well in this dish. Feel free to use any bean of choice that you wish. Most beans will work perfectly in this dish.
*Sea Salt: Please adjust the sea salt based upon your family’s sea salt preferences and/or based upon dietary needs.
*Storage: Refrigerate and use within 5 days.