Wow, this pasta though!
I’ve been feeling so inspired and excited by the weather warming up. Where I live, which is pretty far north, the day length changes drastically throughout the year. For example, when we reach the longest day of the year the sun doesn’t set until almost 10:30 pm! This is pretty inconvenient for me in the Winter because I have always chosen to use natural light for my photography. As you can imagine, this cuts my opportune working window pretty short throughout the colder seasons. Not gonna lie, this doesn’t help my Winter stress levels.
On the flip side, I can be so much more flexible during the longer day lengths. I must say, it’s been really nice being able to get to the gym early sometimes and then still have time in my day to get recipes done and take photos before it’s too dark. I actually made this particular recipe on a whim a few days ago, right after getting home from the gym. I wasn’t really hungry before leaving so I may have skipped breakfast, oops. I guess that technically made this pasta my breakfast. Yep, I’m weird like that and sometimes eat really random first meals of the day. I’ve actually been on a savory breakfast kick recently, maybe you can relate?
So I’m always open to a little challenge or trying something new. When it comes to a classic like macaroni and cheese though, it’s pretty hard to imagine it being possible to make it without the cheese part, right? I’m not going to say that this recipe tastes exactly like cheese or anything but if you are skeptical whether a version of mac could even be good without dairy than this should at least change your mind.
I think what really creates the perfect flavor base is roasting the garlic and peppers. I know it adds a few minutes (okay, like 40) but trust me, it’s worth it. You may be like me and you already do this, but what I typically try to do is roast my veggies while I’ve already got my oven heated for any other baking I’m doing during the day. This is especially nice during the summer months when you’re trying to minimize heat.
Oh, but definitely note that the garlic could permeate into something you’re baking it with so I’ll only bake it with something else that’s savory.
And yes, I did put kale in this pasta. Hey, if you aren’t a huge fan of it, no worries, just replace it with more spinach or any other veggie for that matter. Also, I used Banza pasta which is made from chickpeas. This wasn’t the plan initially, but it sort of makes this pasta a party of chickpeas, but a delicious one at that. By the way, I’m not being sponsored by Banza, I just discovered how awesome it is. It has the same amount of protein per serving as a steak, isn’t that crazy?
Did I forget to mention that this recipe is vegan and gluten free? Awesome, I know! Some of the other ingredients that help give it a cheesy flavor, without any actual cheese, are mustard and nutritional yeast. I also added a tiny amount of coconut aminos. You can replace that with soy sauce if you’re not gluten free, or tamari if you are.
I can’t wait to hear what you think!
Thought you couldn't make macaroni without the cheese? Omg, me too! But guess what? You can and it's so good!
- 8 ounces elbow pasta (I used Banza pasta)
- 1 1/2 cups fresh kale, stems trimmed and chopped
- 1 1/2 cups fresh baby spinach
- 1 cup (220g) cooked chickpeas
- 3 medium red bell peppers, stems and seeds removed
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
- 1/4 cup (10g) nutritional yeast
- 1/4 cup (30g) roasted salted cashews
- 2 tablespoons mustard
- 1 tablespoon coconut aminos (can be replaced with tamari, or soy sauce if not gluten free)
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
- 1 cup water
- Heat oven to 400 degrees F (200 C) and line a baking tray with foil. Lay out the peppers on the tray. Use a sharp knife to slice the top off of the garlic to reveal the cloves. Drizzle the peppers and garlic with olive oil and place a small square of foil over the garlic to avoid burning. Roast in the oven for 30-40 minutes until the peppers are beginning to brown a bit.
- Once the veggies are roasted, allow them to cool for at least 5 minutes. Remove the garlic cloves carefully from the peel and place them in a blender or food processor along with the chickpeas and peppers. Add the nutritional yeast, cashews, mustard, coconut aminos, paprika, thyme, and water. Pulse until completely smooth. Set aside for a moment.
- Add a teaspoon of oil to a large, deep skillet and add the kale. Cook over medium high heat for about 3- 5 minutes until softened. Pour in the sauce mixture and reduce heat to medium low, stirring periodically until it begins to bubble. Add the fresh spinach and stir together over heat until wilted.
- While you're heating the sauce, bring a pot of water to a boil and cook pasta according to package instructions. Once cooked, stir the pasta into the warm sauce and serve.