Fall is upon us my friends, so this means I’m comin’ in HOT with all the fall inspired dishes! This week I’m sharing a new twist on one of my favorite dishes: Vegan Pumpkin Spinach Mac and Cheese.
Now I know what you’re thinking… why in the world would I add pumpkin and spinach to a mac and cheese dish?! Just go with me on this one y’all. I know it sounds crazy, but it’s so good. The pumpkin adds just the right amount of flavor and the spinach compliments each component of the dish.
Ingredients You’ll Need to Make Vegan Pumpkin Spinach Mac and Cheese:
- pasta noodles – for this recipe I decided to use traditional elbow pasta noodles, only because I already had them in the pantry. Feel free to use your favorite kind of (similar) noodles if you’d like to try something different!
- vegan butter – the vegan butter in this recipe is used to cook the seasonings and coat the breadcrumbs. You could swap for a neutral oil such as olive oil or grape seed oil if you’re looking for an alternative.
- fresh garlic – using fresh garlic will always be a favorite for me, but if you’re out, feel free to substitute with garlic powder.
- dried sage, dried rosemary, onion powder, ground nutmeg, and Italian seasoning – these seasonings are what’s going to help separate this mac and cheese recipe from a traditional one. They’ll provide the fall flavors you love. Feel free to customize to your liking!
- all-purpose flour – the flour in this recipe will be used as a thickener while making the roux. You could try substituting with cornstarch by using half the amount called for in the recipe.
- unsweetened almond milk – Unsweetened almond milk is always a staple in my home, but if you don’t have any or prefer not to use almond milk, try another unsweetened plant milk of your choice.
- vegan cheddar cheese – what’s mac without the cheese?! feel free to use your favorite vegan mac and cheese brand or switch things up by using something other than cheddar like mozzarella.
- pumpkin puree – I always use canned pumpkin puree you can find in your local grocery store. It’s convenient, and easy!
- frozen spinach – this is always an ingredient we have on hand in my home, but you could always use fresh as well. Just be sure to give it a rough chop and pack it in tightly when measuring. No spinach at all? Feel free to substitute with another leafy green like kale, or a different vegetable all together.
- panko breadcrumbs – panko breadcrumbs are my preference, but you could easily substitute for a gluten-free version or regular breadcrumbs.
How to Make Vegan Pumpkin Spinach Mac and Cheese:
Making this Vegan Pumpkin Spinach Mac and Cheese recipe is pretty simple and much like making a traditional mac and cheese recipe (or a rich and creamy 4-cheese version), only with a few modifications.
You’ll want to start by gathering all of your ingredients. There’s nothing worse than starting a recipe only to realize halfway through that you’re missing a few necessary items.
Once everything has been gathered, you can start prepping everything. Measure out the spices, the pumpkin puree, plant milk, chop your fresh garlic…etc.
At this point you’re ready to start! Preheat your oven to 350° then bring a pot of water to a boil and cook your pasta noodles according to the package instructions.
While the pasta is cooking you can begin making your cheese sauce. Just be sure to remove the pasta from the heat when it’s done, drain the water, and set aside.
In a large pot melt the vegan butter over low-medium heat and add in all the dried seasonings– sage, rosemary, onion powder, and nutmeg. Stir to combine with the vegan butter until fragrant.
Add in the chopped garlic, then cook until fragrant. Slowly mix the all-purpose flour into the mixture, then stir until you’ve reached a smooth consistency. Now you’re ready to add in the almond milk, vegan cheddar cheese, and pumpkin puree.
Bring the mixture to a low boil, then use a whisk to stir everything together until well combined. Once you’ve reached a smooth consistency, you’re ready to add in the frozen spinach!
Continue stirring the mixture until the spinach is mostly cooked. If there are still a few frozen pieces in there, it’s okay. It will continue cooking in the oven. Plus, we want to make sure we don’t end up overcooking the spinach altogether.
Add in the cooked pasta noodles and stir so that each noodle has been coated in the cheese sauce. Next, transfer the Vegan Pumpkin Spinach Mac and Cheese to an appropriately sized baking dish and set aside.
In a small bowl, combine the ingredients to make your breadcrumb mixture. Once this is done, evenly top the pasta with it and transfer to the oven and bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until the breadcrumb mixture is golden brown.
Once done, remove the Vegan Pumpkin Spinach Mac and Cheese from the oven and allow it to cool for 5 – 10 minutes before serving and enjoy!
How to Customize this Dish
Swap the veggies. Not a big fan of spinach, or are you fresh out? Swap it for something similar like chopped kale or try a different veggie altogether!
Add some “meat.” I think this recipe can certainly hold its own, but feel free to jazz it up by adding vegan chicken pieces or even vegan bacon!
Make it gluten-free! Swap the traditional pasta noodles for your favorite gluten-free version, along with the breadcrumbs and flour.
Ditch the breadcrumbs. Don’t have any breadcrumbs or would you rather use something else? Try using crushed ritz crackers instead!
Can this Recipe be Made in Advance?
Yes! You can make this Vegan Pumpkin Spinach Mac and Cheese ahead of time by preparing the sauce and noodles as instructed in the recipe card below, then cover and transfer it to the fridge until you’re ready to bake it (I’d recommend doing so within 3 days).
On the day you’re ready to enjoy your Vegan Pumpkin Spinach Mac and Cheese, mix together the breadcrumb topping, then pick up at step eleven!
I know you’ll love this Vegan Pumpkin Spinach Mac and Cheese recipe! It’s easy to make, filled with seasonal flavors you didn’t know you needed. Give this recipe a try and let me know how it goes in the comments below!
More Pumpkin Recipes You’ll Love:
- Vegan Pumpkin Banana Bread
- Creamy Vegan Pumpkin Pasta
- Pumpkin Spice Chocolate Chip Pancakes
- Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
- Vegan Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins
Vegan Pumpkin Spinach Mac and Cheese [+VIDEO]
- Preheat oven to 350°
- Cook the macaroni noodles according to the package instructions (with a dollop of oil if desired).1½ cups pasta noodles
- Once noodles are done cooking, drain the noodles (do not rinse) and set aside.
- In a large pot, melt 3 tbsp vegan butter over low-medium heat. Add in all seasonings and stir to combine.3 tbsp vegan butter, 2 tsp dried sage, 1 tsp dried rosemary, 1 tsp onion powder, ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
- Add in chopped garlic and cook until fragrant.2 cloves fresh garlic
- Slowly mix the flour into the mixture until smooth.2 tbsp all-purpose flour
- Add in the unsweetened almond milk, cheese, and pumpkin puree. Bring to a low boil and whisk until smooth.1½ cups unsweetened almond milk, 2 cups vegan cheddar cheese, ½ cup pumpkin puree
- Add the frozen spinach and mix to combine.1 cup frozen spinach
- Add the pasta to the pot with the cheese mixture and stir.
- Transfer the pasta to an appropriately sized baking dish and set aside.
- Combine the breadcrumb mixture in a small bowl, then spread it over top of the pasta in an even layer.1 cup panko breadcrumbs, 2 tbsp vegan butter, 1 tsp Italian seasoning
- Transfer the dish to the oven and bake for about 20 – 25 minutes.
- Once finished baking, let cool for 5-10 minutes. Enjoy!