Macaroni and cheese is now a proud member of the vegan repertoire, and there are so many ways to vary it. One of the most luscious is this vegan broccoli and bacon mac and cheese, which you can make with packaged plant-based bacon, homemade smoky tempeh strips, or even mushroom “bacon.”
I’ve served this to many people who claim that they couldn’t possibly go vegan, because they couldn’t give up cheese or cheesy dishes. This is one that proves you don’t have to.
Though there’s plenty of broccoli in this dish, I’ve snuck in extra vegetable goodness with cauliflower. It blends right in with the creamy, cheesy sauce. Plant bacon adds bursts of flavor, not to mention extra protein.
When you need a big dish to serve or share, this makes a heaping helping, using a whole pound of pasta.
Complete the meal: All you need to round out this meal is a simple green salad — lettuce, tomato, peppers, carrots, and cucumber, with your favorite dressing.
Vegan bacon brands, or make your own
There are lots of brands that make vegan bacon, including All Vegetarian, Lightlife, Morningstar Farms, Sweet Earth, Tofurky, Upton’s Naturals, store brands, and more.
One of the newer entries in this group is Slutty Strips from Atlanta’s popular plant-based eatery, Slutty Vegan.
Recipe adapted from Plant-Powered Protein: 125 Recipes for Using Today’s Amazing Meat Alternatives © 2020 by Nava Atlas. Reprinted by permission. Photographs by Hannah Kaminsky, BittersweetBlog.com.
- 16-ounce package pasta (any short chunky shape)
- 2 medium broccoli crowns, cut into bite-sized florets
- Olive oil
- 5 to 6 ounces plant-based bacon, or homemade Smoky Tempeh Strips (see link in Notes), cut into small bits, or Vegan Mushroom “Bacon” (see link in Notes)
- 12.3-ounce package firm or extra-firm silken tofu
- 2 tablespoons vegan butter
- 2 heaping cups well-cooked fresh or thawed frozen cauliflower florets
- 1 cup plain plant-based milk
- 8-ounce package Cheddar-style vegan cheese shreds
- 1 tablespoon barbecue seasoning blend, any variety (see note)
- Salt to taste
- Cook the pasta in a large pot according to package directions. Just as the pasta turns al dente, stir in the broccoli and cook for a minute or so, until bright green. Drain, then return the pasta with broccoli to the cooking pot.
- Meanwhile, heat just enough oil to coat a medium skillet. Add the bacon and cook for a few minutes, stirring often, until touched with golden brown spots and turning crisp.
- Combine the silken tofu, vegan butter, cauliflower, plant-based milk, and cheese in a blender. Blend until creamy and smooth.
Pour the sauce into the pot and stir together with the broccoli and pasta. Stir in the bacon (save some for topping) and barbecue seasoning. Return to medium-low heat for a few minutes, until everything is piping hot and the cheese has melted.
- Season with salt and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes to allow the pasta absorb a bit of the sauce, then serve.
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