Sunflower Mac & Cheese (Vegan): Recipe #226

Sunflower seed cheese? Don’t laugh. Even our most fanatical mac & cheese fan was going back for thirds of this ingenious and tasty creation. Paired with green beans and plant-based meatballs, sunflower mac & cheese makes a completely delicious and nutritious dinner. We will definitely be making this one again and again. Thanks once more to the brilliant Isa Does It!

This is part of our 1,000 Food Experiments to create sustainable meals for our family and hopefully yours.

Ingredients ($7.50 for a large pot)

1 or 1 1/4 cups raw sunflower seeds, soaked in water overnight – $0.99
1 tbsp olive oil – $0.10
1/2 cup carrots, sliced thinly – $0.46
1/2 onion, chopped – $0.25
2 tsp salt – $0.10
4 cloves garlic, chopped – $0.15
3 cups vegetable broth – $1.50
2 tbsp cornstarch – $0.20
1/4 cup nutritional yeast – $0.40
2 tbsp tomato paste – $0.22
1 tbsp lemon juice – $0.10
1 pound elbows or small shell pasta – $2.99

Green beans and plant-based meatballs on the side (optional)

Directions for Sunflower Mac & Cheese

1. Cover the sunflower seeds in water and soak overnight at room temperature in a small bowl.

In a medium pot, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Cook the carrots, onions, and salt together for about 10 minutes until soft, then add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute.

Scoop the carrot-onion-garlic mix into your blender and add the sunflower seeds, broth, cornstarch, nutritional yeast, and tomato paste. Blend until it’s very smooth, then transfer it back to your pot.

Cook the sauce for about 15 minutes over medium heat, stirring often, until it’s nice and thick. Add in the lemon juice and adjust salt/pepper as needed.

2. While the sauce is thickening, cook up your plant-based meatballs in a pan and bring a large pot of water to a boil, then cook your pasta with the green beans together (a nifty pro tip!) for however many minutes the pasta package says.

3. Drain the pasta and green beans, then mix in all the sauce to create a thick cheesy delicious dinner. Serve your sunflower mac & cheese hot in bowls with meatballs on the side, if desired. It’s also wonderful as leftovers the next day!

Sustainability Score (explained here)

  • Time to make: 1 = >3 hours
  • Servings: 3 = lots of leftovers
  • Cost per serving: 3 = <$5
  • Deliciousness: 3 = when are we having this again?
  • Environmental impact: 3 = minimal damage
  • Nutritional value: 3 = optimal nutrition
  • TOTAL: 16/18

If any of you lovely readers tried it, or have other recipes you’d like us to experiment with, please let me know. Wishing you and your family a healthy, happy day!

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