Spicy mac and cheese

Serves 4-6

Note: Some people like their pasta to have a lot of sauce, and some do not. Let this guide you when deciding how much pasta to cook. Gluten free substitutions are included in the ingredient list below.

12-16 ounces uncooked macaroni or other small pasta (regular or gluten free)
2 cups reserved pasta water
1/2 cup raw cashews
6 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons all purpose or sweet rice/mochiko flour (if making gluten free)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion granules
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon fine grain salt

Prepare the pasta according to package directions until al dente. Remove two cups of water from the pot – this is where a Pyrex measuring cup comes in handy! Drain the pasta and return it to the pot; cover to keep warm.  If using gluten free pasta, rinse under very hot water a couple of times to remove excess starch. Lightly oil if necessary to prevent the pasta from sticking.

Combine the reserved cooking water with the cashews and blend until no grit remains. Add the rest of the ingredients (nutritional yeast through salt) and blend on high speed until completely smooth. Season to taste with salt and white pepper.

Transfer the sauce to a large, heavy-bottomed pot and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Adjust heat to keep the sauce at a low simmer and whisk continually until thickened, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Add the sauce to the cooked pasta and mix gently until the pasta is evenly coated. Serve hot.

Prep time: 5 minutes  | Cook time: 10-15 minutes

Adapted from Vegan Diner, by Julie Hasson