This easy, nut-free vegan macaroni and cheese is a hit with kids and adults alike! Made with raw sunflower seeds and select whole-food ingredients that create a super creamy and cheesy sauce. It's also oil-free (or add vegan butter for extra richness) and easily made gluten-free.
Place raw sunflower seeds in a bowl and cover with hot water. Soak for 30 minutes, then drain and rinse.
Cook pasta according to package directions. While the water comes to a boil and the pasta is cooking, make the cheese sauce.
To make the sauce, in a blender combine sunflower seeds, 1 cup of water, oats, garlic, red pepper, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, miso, both vinegars, salt, mustard powder, onion powder, and nutmeg. Gradually increase speed, and blend on high for about 1 minute. Stop to scrape down the sides as needed. Blend again until the sauce is completely smooth. Add the remaining 1 ½ cups water, and blend to combine.
Taste the sauce, and adjust the flavor as desired, possibly adding another small piece of red pepper, more onion powder, nutritional yeast, salt, white pepper, etc. Blend again.
When the pasta is done, drain in a colander. Pour the cheese sauce into the empty pot, and cook over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring frequently. If opting for richer mac and cheese, add the vegan butter now. Add the pasta to the pot, and stir to coat. The sauce will thicken as it sits. Serve hot.
As the mac and cheese cools the sauce will thicken and the pasta may soak up quite a bit of the sauciness. Simply stir in a few splashes of water or non-dairy milk to make it lusciously creamy again.I haven't tested this sauce using a standard blender, but achieving a smooth texture shouldn't be too difficult. If you're worried whether your blender is up to the task, feel free to soak the seeds a little bit longer. You can also pour the sauce through a fine mesh strainer to catch any unblended oat or seed bits.
Store leftover mac and cheese in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Reheat on the stovetop or in a microwave. Freezing not recommended.*Nutrition estimates calculated without optional butter.