The best traditional mac and cheese recipes rely on more than just the cheese. They use a bechamel to create a cheese sauce that enrobes the pasta and keeps the dish wonderfully creamy.

It follows, then, that the best vegan mac and cheese recipes rely on more than vegan cheese, too. In fact, plenty of them don’t use any vegan cheese at all, instead enlisting cashews to create the sauce and other powerful ingredients (such as nutritional yeast, miso and mustard) to bring nutty, deep and sharp flavors to the party. Some recipes add tapioca or potato starch to approximate the stretchiness of cheese, vegan or not.

This, which I adapted from the new book by the folks at Goodful (part of BuzzFeed’s Tasty family), other nice recipe touches to the standard vegan technique and might just raise the bar.

Here, you cook potato, carrot, garlic and onion in a skillet with water and the requisite cashews, then the whole thing gets pureed with the aforementioned flavor boosters to become the sauce. The potato brings that starchiness, the carrot a hint of color.

I added a couple of my own touches to the blender. When I first tested this recipe, the only nutritional yeast left in my pantry was one flavored with “nacho” spices, including cayenne pepper and smoked paprika, and I loved the result. So the next time, I tried adding plain “nooch,” plus the separate spices, and again loved the hint of heat and smokiness.

One warning about this recipe: It makes a lot, filling a deep 12-inch cast-iron skillet. If your household is small, feel free to eat whatever portion you’d like, refrigerate some for the following few lunches and/or freeze some for even longer.

But if you have a ravenous teenager in the house, like my husband and I do now that we welcomed a foster child, the quantity will be welcome. This 13-year-old ate about a quarter of the skillet within the first day — and polished it off the next.

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