Green Mac and Cheese (Gluten Free, Dairy-Free)
This dairy-free green macaroni and cheese gets its vibrant color from fresh herbs and spinach blended into a nutritional yeast-based cheese sauce, making it a way healthier, more delicious version of the childhood classic. A surefire hit with kids and adults alike!
I actually completely forgot that St. Patrick’s Day was coming up until Zack, upon tasting this dish, reminded me. Is it mid-March already, guys? Where does the time go? This month has been absolutely crazy for Zack and me, as he’s had trips to both California and London, and I’ve been running all over town hunting for a new apartment while prepping for my cookbook launch (April 11! So soon! Stay tuned for a pre-order special next week). We finally found an apartment, which I’m so excited about—it’s in a neighborhood I refer to as the West Village of Brooklyn, filled with cobblestone streets and quaint brownstones and bars with live music and cafes with tiny tables perfect to wile away a Sunday at.
Now, though, we’re buried in the minutiae of moving, trying to source boxes and clear out our closets and debate the likelihood of getting bed bugs from using NYC movers (I hear the bugs are really common in the blankets, but if anyone has any experience with this, please let me know!). I’m deeply looking forward to summer, when a bit of the chaos is behind us and we’re settled into our new space, my book baby is out in the world, and we can relax a bit.
In the meantime, this has become a staple weeknight dinner. I’ve long been a huge pesto fan (my Thai pesto pasta is a perennial favorite), but I’ve never really gone beyond that in the green pasta realm (I know you’re like, yes, Liz, that’s because there is no green pasta realm, and to you I say: stay tuned!). This dish is inspired by an amazing dinner Zack and I had at the Winvian Farm restaurant in Connecticut. We snuck away a few weeks back for a weekend filled with naps and reading and delicious food, and the farm-to-table meal absolutely blew our minds. The pasta dish was an herby, creamy, cheesy Alfredo that was plate-licking good. There’s something about the combo of healthy fresh herbs and greens with a decadent cheese sauce, about getting to have the best of the nourishing world with the best of comfort food.
And, truly, this pasta is super nourishing. I’m not sure what the Winvian Farm chef used, but I went for one of my favorite cheese sauce bases, which ingeniously combines potatoes, nutritional yeast, garlic and onion powder, and tamari. The potatoes, boiled and processed in a food processor, release their starches and become downright gooey, while the nutritional yeast adds a cheesy touch and tons of B vitamins, and the garlic, onion and tamari contribute that umami savoriness.
This recipe is pretty flexible. I like mixing up my herbs for that fresh-from-the-garden flavor, but if you only have one on hand or don’t like one of my choices, just sub it out for another herb.
- 3 cups chopped potatoes (peel for tougher potatoes, but new potatoes are fine with peel on)
- 1 cup spinach
- 4 tbsp nutritional yeast
- ¾ tsp tamari
- ½ cup cashews, soaked in water for 1 - 3 hours then drained
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 3 tbsp almond milk
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp fresh thyme
- ¼ cup fresh rough chopped cilantro
- 1/4 cup fresh rough chopped basil
- 2 cups uncooked pasta of choice
- In a medium pot, cover potato with cold water until they’re submerged by one inch; bring to boil and boil until fork tender, about 15-20 min.
- Drain and let cool slightly, then transfer to blender or food processor and blend or process for one minute, scraping down the sides several times if necessary. You want to do the full minute, even if the mixture seems smooth already, so that the starches release from the potatoes and you get a gooey, cheesey texture.
- Add the rest of the ingredients, save for the pasta, and blend until smooth.
- Prepare pasta according to package instructions, then mix with cheese sauce until each noodle is well covered.