February 7th, 2012

Sunflower Mac

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Serves 4
Time: 30 minutes (not including sunflower seed soaking time)

Sunny Mac

The most important people in my life are my recipe testers. Luckily, my sister and mom are included in their numbers, so all of my bases are covered.

Recipe testers are why my cookbooks work. Before a recipe gets to you, it has already been tested by a bunch of people, all over the world. They all have different levels of experience, from beginner cooks to lifelong kitchophiles. Some live in rural areas and harvest their own kale, while others lug huge bushels home from the farmer’s market on the subway. And there’s a happy medium in between.

But not only do testers test my recipes, they also give me inspiration. I can ask if there’s anything I’m missing, anything they’re craving, or just any ingredients they need to use up. It’s a great way to get ideas!

And over the years, I’ve learned many of their quirks, likes, loves and allergies. One of my most favoritest testers who has been there with me from the very beginning is Jess Sconed. I can’t say enough about her amazingness! I mean, not just as a recipe tester but as a friend and as a person. She is always creating something, always making the vegan community a better, more awesome, and more fun place. She started Vegan Iron Chef and is one of the organizers of Vida Vegan Con. She has like 20 blogs, but you might know her from Get Sconed, where she’s been blogging for ever. This recipe, created in her honor, is totally fitting because she’s a lot like a sunflower. One with dyed black pigtails and purple nail polish, but a sunflower all the same! Just a glowing ray of tofu light.

I know how she feels about raw onions and cilantro (not too good), and so I often come up with recipes keeping that in mind. And recently Jess has developed a tree nut allergy! I can’t imagine a worse fate right now, what with the cashew craze and my out of control almond butter lust. Knowing how much she loves vegan macs, I wanted to experiment with a sauce that I knew Jess would love, using ingredients that would be good for her, too. And so I pulled out the sunflower seeds.

I really wasn’t sure what to expect. Was this going to taste very 70s health-foody? I mean, it’s sunflower seeds. Our grandparents put them on their oatmeal. Would they even blend well? Cashews slurp up water and get tender and ready to puree. Sunflower kernels seem so hard and unwelcoming. I had my doubts, to be sure.

But all those doubt washed away as I poured the perfectly creamy sauce over the little macaronis in a positively cheddary orange waterfall. Sunflower seeds have a mellow nutty quality that fit right into a cheezy sauce. The backdrop of garlic and onion, with a hint of vegetable sweetness from carrots, and the rich toastiness from the sunflowers had me at the first creamy forkful. Bottom line: I really dug it! And from now on, I’ll have a canister of sunflower seeds standing proudly beside the cashews in my cupboard. Thanks for the inspiration, Jess!

I love to serve my mac with some steamed kale, so here was my plate.

Sunny Mac

The mac is under there somewhere! Steamed broccoli would be a good choice, as well. PS If you’d like to see all the testing that Jess did for Veganomicon, you can check out her post here.

8 oz macaroni pasta (I used whole wheat, use brown rice pasta to make it gluten-free)

1 cup unroasted sunflower seed kernels, soaked (see directions)

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup thinly sliced carrots
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt

3 cups vegetable broth
2 tablespoons organic cornstarch
1/4 cup nutritional yeast

2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon lemon juice                                                              
Sweet paprika for sprinkling                                                        

Place sunflower seeds in a bowl and submerge in water. Let soak for about 2 hours and up to overnight. Drain well.

Boil a pot of salted water for your pasta.

Preheat a sauce pot over medium heat. Saute carrots and onions in oil with a pinch of salt for about 10 minutes, until onions are translucent and carrots are slightly softened. Add garlic and saute for 30 seconds or so, then remove from heat.

Place the carrots and onions in a blender or food processor. Add vegetable broth, corn starch, nutritional yeast, tomato paste and sunflower seeds. Blend until very smooth. This could take up to 5 minutes depending on the power of your machine, so give your blender  motor a break every minute or so and test the sauce for smoothness. It should be very smooth, with only a slight graininess.

If your water is boiling, prepare the pasta according to package directions.

In the meantime, transfer the sauce back to the sauce pot. Turn the heat up to medium and let cook, stirring very often, until thickened. This should take about 15 minutes. Add the lemon juice and taste for salt and seasoning.

The pasta should be done while the sauce is thickening, so drain and place back in the pot you cooked it in. Set aside.

When sauce is thick, pour most of it over the pasta, reserving some to pour over individual servings. Mix it up, and serve with extra sauce and paprika for sprinkling.

207 comments to Sunflower Mac

  • Jael

    My husband makes white sauce from sunflower seeds. Looking forward to trying this!

  • phee

    Awww its the cashews cheaper cousin.

  • This looks really interesting! I love sunflower seeds and they are pretty good for you too.

  • Gabrielle

    This is adorable! I will absolutely make this in honour of Jess. Thanks, Isa!

  • I would LOVE to be a recipe tester! I am constantly trying new things and reading recipes is a passion of mine.

  • Susan

    This sounds goo-ood!

  • Jen

    AWWW. that is the sweetest recipe dedication! And for such a wonderful person! I love her blogs!

    You really go above and beyond with your substitutions!

  • Woh, I cannot tell you how happy I am that you posted this. I am allergic to nothing, NOTHING except…you guessed it…cashews. Ugh. It’s a vegan-food-loving nightmare. I’m always wanting to try some delicious cheese sauce at a raw restaurant and feeling totally sorry for myself. I was so excited to get Cafe Gratitude’s book of desserts and then realized almost everything was made with cashews. Grrr. So I can’t wait to try this out!

  • This sounds fabulous! Nice to learn about alternatives to nuts for people who can’t eat them. Looks really good on the kale too!

  • katy

    hahaha, I was so excited at first to make this for my friend with nut allergies, then I noticed it has tomatoes and I am allergic to tomatoes. Allergies, man! (that’s ok though, we still have plenty of things we can both eat.)

  • This is such a sweet post! Seriously. It’s so nice to see people appreciating each other. Isa, you rock and your cookbooks are the reason I love being vegan. I want to thank YOU! And thank you, Jess, for testing Isa’s recipes so people like me can have happy vegan tummies! 🙂

  • EmperorTomatoKetchup

    Hooray for creamy cashew-free mac & cheese! My husband’s allergic to nuts too, so I’m sure he’ll appreciate this.

  • Samalamb

    This is perfect! My mom is allergic to cashews and I have been craving mac ‘n’ cheeze here at college! So making this when I get home! 🙂

  • Joleanna

    YAY! I’m allergic to cashews 🙁 so this is awesome! thank you so much for experimenting and sharing!

  • We were looking for a new mac & cheese recipe to try next week–thank you! It is always nice to make delicious vegan food as inclusive as possible to those with allergies!

  • Robyn Mary

    This looks SO GOOD!!!!! Thank you SO MUCH for your dedication to creating healthful and delicious vegan food. <3 We love you, Isa!

  • I always use sunflower seeds, in my mixes, nut butters, salads, as a snack.
    I love that you add it to your pantry!!!
    I want to be a recipe tester!!!!! 😀 For real!

  • Is this a good recipecto make for when non-vegans come to supper, or is the kind you save for appreciative vegans?! I’m cooking dinner for my mum-nearly-in-law on Thursday & need something simple but tasry 🙂

  • What a fantastic Mac-n-Cheese version. I love the idea of sunflower seeds.

  • Laura

    Wow, it’s like you read my thoughts once again, Isa! One of my best friends is allergic to nuts and I’ve been wishing and hoping for a “cheesey” vegan dish we could actually share, without having to resort to an Earth-Balance-sauce. I love you more each and every day 😛

  • Amy

    If you are ever looking for new recipe testers, I would be incredibly honored to serve you in that capacity!!! This looks amazing; I never would have thought to use sunflower seeds. Katy, I would try subbing mustard for the tomato paste, or maybe just omit it. don’t let it stop you – forge ahead!!! 🙂

  • Laura

    Thank you so much for posting this recipe! I also have a severe nut allergy and am always discouraged by all the cashew recipes out there that I can’t try. I can’t wait to get this cooking for dinner tomorrow night! Thank you thank you thank you!

  • Your mac and cheese sounds very delicious! I love sunflower seed based sauces. I started experimenting with them a while ago, because cashews are so expensive over here. In Germany sunflower seeds are used in many vegan spreads and I also find them as versatile as cashews.

  • What a fabulous recipe! Comfort food all wrapped up in good for you makes me happy! Love that you serve it with kale!

  • Michelle

    Thank you! My daughter is allergic to cashews. Your recipes are the best! You are the best!!!

  • maita

    It’s a vegan cheesey sauce students can afford! <3
    Which makes me wonder… Peanuts are the cheapest nut-like thing in lots of places, so could one do the soak-and-blend with peanuts as well? How about soy beans??

    • IsaChandra

      Peanuts have such a strong flavor, you’d really just have peanut sauce. Soy beans are pretty different, have you tried the edamame pesto from my blog?

  • Daniel

    My (non-vegan) fiancee is allergic to tree nuts, so I’m always on the lookout for things I can cook without killing her. This is going to be awesome, especially when I add some of the Italian sausage from the recipe a few days ago. One question: if i wanted to make the whole thing into a baked casserole, what would you recommend for a crust?

  • Yum, I love that you used sunflower seeds in this. It’s about the only seed/nut that I can handle without getting weird reactions. I’m with you on the recipe taste testers. Like you mentioned, it’s good to have a couple of them. Sometimes I’ll make something that my boyfriend absolutely hates, but my neighbors love, and I do too… good to have all bases covered!

  • lou

    awesome! now the mighty isa has tried the sunflower seed “cashew creme” i am much more positive about applying it to other cashewy based vegan delights. Big loves for this, it means a lot to us treenut aphobes

  • Ashley

    Yesssss something I can finally eat!! I too have the cashew curse. 🙁

  • i can’t wait to try this with brown rice pasta!

  • amanda

    soaking the sunflower seeds to make this for dinner tonight!

  • millie

    Here’s to Jess Sconed! <3

  • Tracy

    Sunflower cheeze sauce, go figure! Perfect for kids and everyone. Thanks.

  • Lily

    This looks so good! Got ingredients to make it but accidentally got roasted sunflower seeds. Would they be okay to use? Would anything in the recepie change besides omitting salt?

  • Kat

    I made it immediately after I got home yesterday (and soaked the seeds, duh). Delicious! Next time I will let them soak overnight so they are very soft. I also couldn’t resist adding some curry powder for even more yellowness. Thank you, Isa, for appreciating the humble sunflower seeds! They are also great in pesto 🙂

  • Carla

    yum! this also makes the recipe more affordable, sunflower seeds being way cheaper than cashews, and they are rather creamy.

    I’ve been meaning to share that I recently did the vinagrette for the Everyday Chickpea Quinoa Salad from Appetite for Reducation with sunflower seeds instead of cashews and it was awesome! I ran out of cashews but I so craved this salad. I figured sunflower seeds are creamy, why not try? well, it was yum, not quite as thick, next time I think I would put in a few more seeds, but otherwise quite good. You should try it sometime!

  • I made this tonight, and found I wanted to do some tweaking because the raw-bean taste of the sunflower seeds was a little overpowering. I added one more tablespoon of tomato paste (a kind with no salt added), tripled the nutritional yeast, and used smoked salt instead of regular. I found those things helped, and also noticed that serving the sauce with the pasta and kale (rather than tasting it right out of the pot) made the flavor seem more on target. Next time I might try lightly roasting the sunflower seeds. I really like the idea of using them instead of cashews, so this is something I’ll keep playing with. Thanks for the recipe!

  • Sukee

    Amazing. I just made this, but didn’t have tomato paste so I subbed salsa to taste. Now it’s a fantastic nacho cheese sauce…

    Thanks for your brilliance!

  • I’ll have to try this. My daughter loves mac and cheese, but I hadn’t found a great vegan recipe for one yet. Can’t wait!

  • I’m making this today! My 2 year old boy will love this – Mac and cheese is his favorite and I’ve been searching for a worthy vegan version. I love you Isa! You always save the day! 🙂

    Quick question – do you think the sauce would freeze well? Like if I made a batch and portioned it out in freezer bags to pop out for individual meals?

  • Julie

    Thank you so much! My husband and kids are all severely allergic to peanuts and tree nuts – so the cashew craze is such a downer, there are so many recipes I can’t make. FINALLY I can make a ma-cheese recipe for them!!! Thank you so much!

  • Grainy Maggots

    Bag of sunflower seeds, I know what I’m going to do with you now and it’s not just dump you on top of my oats! Thanks Isa xx

  • christi

    Just made it and poured over fresh spinach, tomatoes and red peppers. Tasty!!! Next dish is NACHOS!! mmmm. Thanks lovely Isa

  • Grainy_Maggots

    Jut made this…holy Jesus it’s good

  • This sounds fantastic! I’ll have to add raw sunflower seeds to this weeks grocery list!

  • Tina

    Just made this! Awesome flavor, easy recipe. Made a ton of sauce – could have used more pasta. I’d like it to be a tiny bit less grainy, though. I’ll have to work on that. Thank you for the fab recipes!

  • Mel

    I really wish I liked nutritional yeast, but no matter how much I try to love it, I always find it mediocre at best. Every recipe for vegan mac-and-cheese looks yummy to me, except if there was no nutritional yeast. I’ve tried sneaking down the amount of it as much as I can, but anything more than a tablespoon still tastes nooch-y. Any recommendations for nooch-haters?? 🙂

    Thanks for all the awesome recipes!

    • IsaChandra

      I make the mac & shews recipe (on this blog) all the time without the nutritional yeast. I prefer it that way! This one needed it for the body.

    • mt

      Try substituting miso (start with white miso) for nutritional yeast (and reduce the salt in the recipe if there is any). Not exactly the same effect but sort of cheesy (in a good way).

  • Andrea

    Made this last night and it was fabulous. Even my non vegan husband had seconds.
    I did have heaps of sauce left over and not sure if it will freeze ok. I am going to try it but just wondering if I am wasting my time.
    Thanks for all of your recipes- they are the bomb!!!

  • tanya

    can’t wait to try this (another cursed with thentree nut allergy that magically appeared out of no where- grr..) i am super excited for happy comfort food 🙂 <3

  • Mel

    Oh, now I feel dumb because I guess I assumed the mac & shrews recipe on this blog was the same as the one in V’con. Hah. I’ll have to give it a try…

  • This looks absolutely lovely. 🙂 I haven’t tried a seed-based sauce yet, but this one looks worth the trip to the co-op for a jar of sunflower seeds!

  • just tried this…at first i tasted straight from the blender and thought…ehh, it’s okay. but, THEN, i cooked the sauce for a few minutes and tasted again…hmmm, better. and, THEN, i sauteed my noodles in the sauce and threw in some broccoli and tasted again…WOW! fantastic, Isa! **I did add a little curry and cayenne, but your recipe is a winner, so thank you!!

  • What an interesting take on mac and cheese. The hardest thing for me to give up in order to become vegan is cheese, but thanks to you and many others out there, there are a lot of great vegan m-n-c recipes that will help me over the hurdle!

  • I made this tonight & am so excited (and surprised!) that I have leftovers for tomorrow! It was such yummy comfort food & definitely will become one of my staples. One thing I discovered though, the sauce spits everywhere when thickening, like a volcano! Don’t know if this was my fault but I say use a big pan 🙂


    I could only find roasted sunflower seeds, how do you think it will affect the mac n cheeze?

  • […] Midnight in the international supermarket, Ste’s getting cider, I’m getting 49p spicy tofu jerky. Just about to pay and see bags of sunflower seeds 2 for £1. Score, I can make that PPK mac! […]

  • Nancy B.

    I added a bit of dry mustard and Mrs. Dash. It was very good. It had a lighter feel than cashew cheese, and much easier to digest. I’m going to substitute sunflower seeds for all cashews in sauces. I wonder if Sunbutter would work as well.

  • Steph

    Anybody know if it’s safe to eat sunny seeds that have been on the counter soaking for 24 hours? Put ’em up to soak before leaving for work yesterday to be ready for dinner, but then we had a change of plans and I forgot about them till this a.m.

  • Nancy B.

    Wow. I just added a bunch of Frank’s Hot Sauce (of Buffalo Wing fame) to it – it’s great nacho sauce. Hard to put down.

  • Robyn Mary

    This recipe is so delicious. I love the diversity of all your different “cheese” sauce recipes. I didn’t expect the sunflower seeds to give it such a light subtle taste! Excellent. Thank you!

  • Ok, so I made this and when I tried the first bite, my heart skipped a beat. Can someone say obsession? This stuff is great!

  • […] from none other than Isa Chandra Moskowitz, of an old timey vegan classic. You can find this recipe here, on Isa’s blog, and it’s easy to follow and the results are glorious. Someone commented […]

  • Frida

    Wow! This was amazing. I made this for three picky young kids and a non-vegan who hates everything – and it was a huge hit.

  • Steph

    Thanks for the oversoaked seeds feedback. Nancy B. – I like the hot sauce idea. Here I was with lots of sunny sauce left, not wanting more pasta, and a bag of blue corn chips and nothing to dip them in. Both problems solved.

  • Isa, thanks for this, and I miss you! So after my sad break from veganism (I really need to find some support from vegans with omni kids..it’s tough!!) I’m back and have been craving mac like crazy. Looking forward to making this!

  • Mary M

    Excellent! I’ve tried other versions that were awful, this one is a keeper. I love that sunflower seeds are much more affordable than cashews. Tip: when she says to “blend until really smooth”, she means it! Otherwise it’s a bit grainy, but still yummy. I can see myself trying some spices (curry?) for a bit of adventure. Also, for the purpose of leftovers, it might be a good idea to cook less pasta, save some of the sauce, and boil new pasta (otherwise you’ll be eating disintegrating pasta leftovers).

  • Reana

    I fed this to my 5 kids (ages 6 and under) and they gobbled it up! They used to eat Kraft so I’m thrilled they’ll eat this instead.

  • Jenine

    Delicious! I added some sautéed smoked tofu for extra om nom nom-ness.

  • Thaks for another great recipe! This is the best vegan mac recipe I’ve made. It tastes super healthy, and didn’t fry my cheapie Walmart blender! I froze this into single serve containers so I’ll have a creamy, delicious lunch for work.

  • Rheyn

    Heeey! ///I/// put sunflower seeds in my oatmeal, thankyouverymuch!

    …But, no, really, THANK YOU VERY MUCH for another glorious mac option. I regret having already eaten dinner tonight.

  • I would like to add this: as a cheat, if you want this NOW and cannot wait to soak the seeds, cover them in boiling water for 15 or so minutes. this does the job perfectly! (;

  • Carrie

    Aw, this is so freakin’ WONDERFUL! EVeryThiNg i’ve made so far has been super! I am SO happy that I found you! I’ve been a vegetarian, cooking vegan a lot of the time, for something like 22 years. It’s always cool to find a recipe that rocks, here and there, but to find your website = GOLD MINE. Thank you thank you thank you thank you I will pay you back by buying your cookbooks for myself and every veg/vegan i know in the years to come.

  • Jade

    This looks great! The last vegan mac I made from Vegan Yum Yum came out too sweet for some reason, and kind of turned me off to the idea of making vegan mac again, but this looks super promising! I’m going to make it for my housemates in a couple of days, but I want to try doing it casserole style. Once the sauce is blended, i’m going to pour it over the cooked macaroni in a baking pan, then top that with some panko or sesame cracker crumbs and italian herbs. I like everyone’s suggestions to use curry powder. Would baking it suffice for the cooking needed in order to let the sauce thicken?

  • […] got this recipe from Post Punk Kitchen and it was pretty good. I made it with broccoli. I love mac and cheese with […]

  • Sam

    Made this today for lunch and it was spot on. I didn’t tweak anything at all. Thank you for another yummy recipe Isa!

  • Samantha

    Made this today with my partner for lunch. It was so GOOD! We’ve been trying different mac and cheeze recipes but for some reason I can’t take the amount of nutritional yeast in them. This was surprisingly (no offense Isa) so good even with nutritional yeast in it. Even my skeptic of a foodie mother liked it.

    Thanks Isa your food is simply the best!

  • Sarah

    This was one of my first vegan recipes attempts and it is so YUMMY!

  • Mary

    When I made this a few weeks ago I doubled the sauce and froze half, and am happy to report that it was just as creamy and tasty in a casserole this week! And my toddler loved it. This is my new default mac and cheese. Thank you Isa!

  • JessicaKC

    My husband and I have been vegan for 7 weeks. He is also allergic to ALL nuts (as well as several other foods). I found your site tonight and saw this and feel so inspired. He loves sunflower seeds (after all, this is all he has ever had for any type of “nut”) and I can’t wait to try this. THANK YOU!!

  • […] on the other hand, never fails to delight with exciting new projects. This unusual recipe for Sunflower Mac from February caught my eye, relying on sunflower seeds in place of the standard cashews for […]

  • tiinakd

    I just made this sauce, but need to travel before I will be able to thicken and enjoy it. Out of the blender I thought it was wonderful. i have no choice but to freeze it, so I will give it a go when I’m back in town. I’ll let you know how it goes!

  • T.

    Oh, wow. Thank you SO MUCH for this. I also have a tree nut allergy so I can’t have any of the cashew-based cheesiness. It’s great to know that sunflower seeds can do the trick!

  • Hilary

    Would it maybe taste okay if you made it with roasted sunflower seeds?

  • I am SUCH a huge fan of Isa and her recipes but I did not care for this one. I’m chalking it up to being a non vegan with no food allergies who is mighty fond of nooch. If that sounds like you try the excellent recipe for mac and trees in Appetite for Reduction!

  • I have a ton of roasted sunflower seeds that I need to use up. Could I use roasted sunflower seeds or would it be too strong of a flavor?

  • Whups! Someone already asked. Well, looks like I will have to try this now 🙂

  • I finally got around to making this today. I tweaked it a bit (more nooch, more tomato paste, some curry powder, hickory smoke salt) and while I probably could have blended the sauce a bit more, it turned out GREAT. I can’t wait to play around with this recipe some more.

  • Alex

    I have eaten this every day for the last three days and am mildly concerned I could continue eating it forever until I morph into an actual ball of pulverised sunflower seeds. I’m an officially rubbish cook and this still turned out amazing. Gracias!!

  • Slide

    Holy cow, this stuff rocks. Isa, you never cease to amaze me.

    I doubled the recipe because I used a 16 oz. package of pasta. Note to recipe-doublers: there is no need to double it. This makes a lot of sauce. I am happy I did it though, because now I have some in the freezer…

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

  • Melissa

    This is a great recipe! I made it for some non vegans (well, i’m not vegan either, i just love the food on this site!) who had no idea it wasn’t cheesey!

    I did substitute cahsews, since I live in Panama and it’s near impossible to find sunflower seeds. The cashews here are amazing though, home grown and roasted and unbelievable!

    If anybody has an idea of a substitute for nutritional yeast? I’ve been surviving without it as there are no “specialty stores” or anywhere where i can find it…any suggestions?

  • Katy

    Im not a fan of nutritional yeast:( i want something that tastes like the boxed crap from the store but without all the junk. Does that recipe’ exist??

  • This sounds great! The only problem I have with some vegan recipes is the nutritional yeast – I am allergic to yeast! Can you recommend a substitute?

  • Katie T

    this was my first attempt at vegan mac and “cheese” and it was a resounding success! i forgot to thicken the sauce at the end, and it was still delicious:) Vegan “cheese” no longer scares me, and I am going to have to check out more nut/seed based sauce recipes. Thanks!

  • […] give up smoking will not be tempted. It is a huge move, and so good for Public Healthfour Making this dinner from Post Punk Kitchen http://www.theppk.com five New clothes! Do you ever go through a phase […]

  • Claire

    I’m not a vegan (or even a vegetarian) and I love me some mac’n’cheese. However, I don’t really eat it that often because of how unhealthy it is. The thought of eating that much cheese in one sitting is disgusting to me, even as an omnivore. I tried this recipe for the first time, and was blown away. This is my new go-to! You rock, Isa!

    And Emily – I find that mustard powder (used in smaller amounts than NY) can add a cheesy flavor, when combined with roasted red peppers and lemon juice. Hope that helps! Maybe try a few teaspoons and a pepper, and go from there?

  • Sharon L

    I discovered this recipe about 6 weeks ago and have made it twice so far. It’s Dee-licious. Thank you for an easy and delicious recipe that does take care of that mac and cheese craving. I’m making the Garlicky Thyme Tempeh now. I can’t wait to see how that turns out.

  • JGreutert

    I made this last night & it was really good. The recipe made ALOT!!!! I was able to freeze two containers of the leftover cheezey sauce, I hope it freezes well!! If not, I’ll just half the recipe next time.
    Thanks Isa

  • This was amazing! I added in some smoked sea salt and just a dash of Cayenne pepper. Thanks for the recipe.

  • This had a surprising depth of flavor with a nice sweetness from the carrots and onions. My sauce also bubbled like a volcano when simmering, but I just stirred continuously with a sauce whisk.

    The recipe makes a ton of sauce so I had it the first time with steamed broccoli and the second time with carmelized onions and mushrooms. Rave reviews from my boyfriend both times.

  • Joy

    This was lush! A new favourite, oh-so-easy to make and tasty on everything. Thank you!

  • Kerry

    Is the yeast just for thickening? Really looking forward to trying this. Our grocery store (Wegmans) makes a phenomenal penne corn pasta that I think it will play well with the tomato, carrots and sunflowers.

  • […] Chandra Moskowitz’s Sunflower Mac with extra asparagus as I love a green vegetable with mac and […]

  • melina

    I made this using the food processor and it was grainy. Tasted great though. Would the blender produce a creamier texture?

  • Sara

    I followed the recipe exactly and while it was very fun to try, it wasn’t what I was looking for. I am looking for something really flavorful, smooth, creamy, and a vegan version of an old favorite of mine. At least now I know that a nut-based mac is probably not going to work. This is an interesting recipe none the less and I would make it again. The quest for the best vegan mac recipe continues…

  • My whole Family LOVED this. Thanks!

  • Rebecca

    Yumm, I added extra tomato paste and some of my basil to this recipe and it tastes awesome on homemade pizza! I was started having some allergy problems with soy so I was overjoyed when I found this.

  • kk

    This is wonderful… I’ve just discovered my toddler is allergic to cashews and pistachios… but I’m allergic to nutritional yeast, so I’ll have to figure out a way to work that out, but it looks amazing!

    Always looking for cashewless recipes. 😀

  • Linda Rosenblatt

    wow, thank you, this recipe sounds not only appealing in taste but simple to make. looking forward to putting this together! would love to know how to do a white sauce too from Jael’s comment below.

  • Becca

    Just made this with a non vegan friend. We paired it with some tender boiled broccoli. It was good! Tomorrow I’m making garlic mashed turnip and rutabagas so I’m looking forward to topping them with my leftover sunflower “cheese”!

  • Nikki

    I made this and it turned out a disgusting brown color…. where did I go wrong? Any ideas?

  • I made this with cauliflower tonight. It doesn’t taste cheesy to me at all, but it is a really delicious creamy sauce that I’ll make again. Sunflower seeds are much cheaper than cashews, so I’m going to be using them much more now.

  • Valerie

    This may be a stupid question, but are we supposed to use a cup of soaked sunflower seeds or a cup that was measured dry and then soaked. I made this last night and it was super green and seedy tasting. I soaked a cup of orrganic raw seeds then blended the whole lot. It was super tasty but a weird color. Thanks!

    • IsaChandra

      Hmm. Were the seeds shelled? I’ve heard that when you bake sunflower seeds they turn stuff green, but this definitely isn’t the case here so I’m honestly not sure!

  • Valerie

    My silly ass used pumpkin seeds not sunflower seeds… result=green sauce, still tasted great though…oops!

  • Angie

    How many servings does this recipe make?

  • shiya

    what can be used in place of the yeast???

  • awesome, soooooooooo excited to try this recipe as i was recently diagnosed with treenut + peanut allergies. cashews are in so many creamy vegan sauces that i am pysched that this one uses sunflower seeds!

    i bought plain ol’ shelled sunflower seeds. however, i did see salted, roasted sunflower seeds. would those have worked, or not so much due to the extra salt????

  • p.s. uh, obviously i can’t read. the directions say unroasted!

  • Susan

    This is excellent. I used a teeny bit more lemon juice (by accident) and it was still great…I think it reduced the “powdery” flavor that nooch has (although I love it).

  • made this a couple of nights ago, it was great. we added a generous sprinkling of annie’s worchestershire sauce + rooster hot sauce and it was the bomb. i kid you not. back in april i also developed an allergy to all nuts so i am most appreciate of this cheeze that is not cashew based!

  • Pam

    The sauce tastes like beer, nuts, and slightly floral (I have no idea where that’s coming from). We’re not making this again.

  • Alysha

    I just tried this recipe. It’s been in my recipe box for awhile now but I never had all the ingredients conveniently available–and today I did, so I gave it a try. So good!! I added a little extra salt, oregano, and pepper, but I’m in love. I’ve been transitioning to a vegan diet for a few weeks now and this definitely satisfies my craving for cheese. Thanks so much!

  • RatKat

    This was delicious!!!!! A success even with my very crappy food processor and only just maybe 2hrs of soaking time

  • […] Sunflower Mac & Steamed Veggies – This is a great recipe.  However, it does not taste like Mac & Cheese so do not think that it will…like I thought it would.  Also, eliminate the nutritional yeast for the fast. […]

  • Miranda

    I was thinking of combining one of the mac n shews sauce ideas with this one. I was gonna add the sourkraut from the other recipe to this one. Would that be good, or gross?

  • Lisa

    Amazing. This dish is SO freakin’ good, my nine-year-old son had three huge bowls and my husband had a few too! I love this sauce, so creamy and rich. Thank you. I don’t know how I would feed my family without you!

  • Angela Hancock

    Can you freeze the cheese sauce?

  • […] vegan cookbook recipe that I want to try, once I get my new blender, “sunflower mac” by Post Punk Kitchen! I like this blog a great deal–all of the cook books I bought were by this author, and I […]

  • […] for Mac n Cheese made from sunflower seeds, I've heard it is really good and the sauce is good: http://www.theppk.com/2012/02/sunflower-mac/ The red hot tahini sauce here is good too: http://www.theppk.com/2012/12/hoppin…ed-hot-tahini/ […]

  • Neesiepoo

    FYI, I’ve been making this sauce for a while and it freezes beautifully!

  • Rebeccakabrin

    Our family had this for dinner last night. I served it as a cheesy sauce over cauliflower and my partner and 3 year old daughter loved it. They requested that I use the left over sauce, it made tons, for a traditional mac and cheese recipe for dinner tonight. The only change I made to the recipe was to add more nutritional yeast (about a 1/4 cup more) near the end of cooking. Delicious!

  • Lindsay

    Just made this, it doesn’t taste like cheese but is really good. I wouldn’t try telling someone it was mac and cheese way too different a taste, but maybe just say you’re making a pasta dish, and non-vegans should enjoy it. I just think if you got them expecting mac and cheese they would be sorely disappointed.

  • This was really good, and adults and kids all loved it at our house. I think I accidentally used roasted sunflower seeds, though. Still good, but not as yellow as in your photos.

  • […] sides to go with:  turnip greens, boiled & mashed rutabega or mac n’ cheeze made with this recipe (so awesome!), and […]

  • […] mac n cheese!  totally worth the effort!!  recipe here.  not pictured is the generous sprinkling of vegan worchestershire and sriracha I put on […]

  • bohemianmatka

    Eating a big bowl of this mac right now as I type 🙂 Its VERY good… I added a tbsp of paprika with my salt and lemon juice during the last 15 min of cooking the sauce. I ended up with alot of extra sauce, so it was enough for a whole 16 oz bag of brown rice pasta. Also a great kid-friendly recipe; my 2 year-old daughter loved it!

  • […] meal features the chorizo sausages and biscuits from Vegan Brunch and sunflower mac (recipe from the PPK blog).  And the turnip  greens are just turnip greens  This meal came […]

  • Rachel

    This looks amazing!! I always crave mac and cheese, but most vegan recipes call for cashews, to which I am allergic. Thanks!

  • […] far as Mac and cheese goes, there are quite a few recipes utilizing nut based sauces like this one http://www.theppk.com/2012/02/sunflower-mac/ And there are a few yogurt options you'll find in stores including soy, almond and coconut based […]

  • Sammy

    Serves four? HAHAHAHA. You obviously haven’t seen how much of this I can eat.

  • […] for some kind of cashew-cream base.  So you can imagine how thrilled I was when Isa shared her sunflower mac n cheeze recipe on the PPK blog — a mac n cheeze recipe that uses sunflower seeds as the base!  I seriously […]

  • Ashley

    This was really good! I cooked 8oz of macaroni, like the directions said, and ended up with LOTS of extra sauce…which is good because now I can add it to everything! LOL I found the sauce was a little bit lacking in flavor, but a few seasonings would fix that. The sauce was great otherwise, the color was perfect, and it was nice and thick and creamy and smooth. I did use about 1/4 cup sunflower seeds and the rest cashews, maybe the seeds add more flavor? Anyway it was yumm-o! Thanks for the recipe! 🙂

  • KTP

    Sounds delish! I’m going to prepare this for a very picky eater (picture 7 year old taste buds). Would this be any more of “the real thing” if I baked it a bit in the end with a bread crumb topping? Or might that ruin it in any way?

  • cocolex7

    This pasta recipe was tasty and my 4-year-old sister liked it however it was nothing like mac and cheese. The colour was orange-pink, not nearly as yellow as on the picture here. The pasta had also an overwhelming taste of onion and carrots. The texture wasn’t cheesy at all, just thick and creamy. It was good, but we will not prepare it again. Still looking for an authentic vegan mac and cheese. We’re gonna try the other one made of cashews.

  • Justin

    Made this tonight and it was very good! Not as rich as chipotle mac n cheese. I doubled the nooch and added a tsp of miso , along with some dry mustard and turmeric.

    Sprinkled some sesame seeds on the top along with the paprika.

    Overall a good tasty and lighter version. Could have had a bit more depth to it, but overall very good!

  • Rebecca

    What can we use if we cannot use Tomato paste?

  • saffron

    Made the sauce this weekend, and used it to make a polenta lasagna, layered with this sauce and a homemade tomato/eggplant sauce. Lots of sauce leftover, think I am going to try making a ‘white’ pizza with spinach and garlic with the rest.
    Thank you for these postings!

  • Betsy

    I just made this and it passed the kid test. Great flavor and texture!

  • […] Sunflower Mac, Zig Zags are optional. Side: There’s a lot of beer in this movie, so take your pick: beer […]

  • andream

    This was great, as are all your recipes! I’m currently restraining myself from eating the whole batch. Sure its not 100% like macaroni and cheese, but i mean…isn’t that the point? This is so delicious and much, much better 🙂

  • Becky

    This is my favourite mac and cheese, period. Thank you.

  • Jill

    This makes a ton of sauce. After about a week of staring at the container in the fridge I mixed the leftover sauce with a roasted buttercup squash for a whole new sweeter sauce. Mix in some peas, top with toasted pepitas and voila, delish without repeating the same meal

  • Caroline

    Hi Isa! I am a HUGE fan, Love the falafuls, etc. I have 3 of your cookbooks including the newest one- which I just tried this recipe last nite. I found it “okay” and my partner who sometimes eats cheese, was not really impressed, I am so sorry to say~ I ended out adding some mustard and ended out liking it that way, although I am going to try it a gain with the left over sauce, making baked mac. but will add mustard to it and maybe throw in some sweet redpepper and sweet onions. My fave pasta one of yours was the fettucini alfreda!!! I am so happy I tried although? I think it may have been the sunflower seeds that didnt appeal. No matter however- because you ROCK! Probably falafuls tonite~~ HUGS DARLING!!!

  • Anjali

    Just made this – fantastic! Perfect as a comfort food. Added lots of broccoli and kale as well. Seasoned with adobo, tumeric and red pepper flakes.

  • Heidi

    Made this last night with and for my daughter who has been nagging me to make mac n cheese for the past week. I used cashews instead of sunflower seeds because that’s all I had on hand. O! M! G! We ate until we were stuffed with delicious, luscious, creamy, vegan mac n cheese. I love you, Isa! <3

  • Shell

    Just bought Isa Does It, and I really appreciate that you’re having recipes that give me skills I can use all around, as well as making things basic enough so that after making a dish a few times I can include it in my arsenal. This was so creamy, De-lish!

  • Amy

    I just made this, and its really delicious! Earthy tasting and ! Thank you for sharing!

  • Susan

    This is my favorite mac and chez I’ve tried so far.

  • Molly

    Just made this, very good! However I have a big pot full of it and a family that is afraid of vegan food hahaha! I was hoping they’d have a change of heart but it’s looking like I will be eating it for the next few days.
    This was one of my first vegan recipes and I must say, I feel much better physically after eating it than after regular mac and cheese… why am I not surprised? 🙂

  • Michelle

    Can I use roasted seeds? I mistakenly purchased two bags of roasted, and I don’t have any other use for them.

  • Emma

    Re-heats surprisingly well! I just had some for lunch and it was delish. I had some green beans on-hand so I added them, and they’re also quite nice.

  • Lisa

    Isa please help me – my husband hates nutritional yeast and he can spot it in every meal i put it in. Do you know of a good substitute?

  • Miranda Smith

    Now this is soy free and dairy free, right?

  • GV

    Made this today and it came out amazing– a great, creamy comfort dish! I added a dash of cayenne to my sauce because I just lean spicy 🙂 Love your vegan magic Isa!!

  • Rebecca

    I am so glad to see you used sunflowers for soaking… my husband is allergic to cashews.. are there any other nuts/seeds that you found work well for soaking in your recipes that call for cashews? I assume part of the reason they are used is because they are mild flavored and blend up nice and creamy… do you have any other recommendations?

  • Made this last night – thumbs up from two fussy kids! Easy to make too

  • […] Sunflower Mac, Zig Zags are optional. Side: There’s a lot of beer in this movie, so take your pick: beer […]

  • […] but also butternut squash, and pumpkin. There’s also sauces made with beer, raw nuts and sunflower seeds. And then of course, there’s the add-ins – roasted red peppers and haberneros, for […]

  • […] I’ve been wanting to try the Sunflower Mac from Isa Does It for ages.  Partly because it looked accessible, and partly because I can’t […]

  • […] talk: The mac & cheese was based on Isa’s Sunflower Mac (yeah, that one, shucks) PLUS miso and way more carrots (to the point my sister was a little terrified that I was […]

  • starletblue

    Helpful hint: Not sure if someone already mentioned this in the comments above, but mine turned out pretty grainy after buzzing in my food processor for 7 minutes and I was doing batches of it so I was afraid of burning out the motor. I ended up finishing it with my immersion blender and that got it to be silky smooth very quickly. So try that if it isn’t smooth enough for your tastes using a blender or food processor. The whole family loved it. I liked it more the next day and am glad to have found a recipe that uses sunflower seeds which are way cheaper than cashews.

  • […] can read the original recipe at Post Punk […]

  • H

    How many people does this serve?

  • Dan

    I’ve made this a few times and it’s always a big hit. After making the sauce this evening I realised I had no pasta, so I mixed it with some leftover millet and added cucumber and cherry tomatoes to make a warm salad. It was really good!

  • […] Sunflower Mac with Smoked Paprikaadapted from The Post-Punk Kitchen Serves […]

  • […] you wouldn’t be able to make this with sunflower seeds instead of cashews. I have made this Sunflower Mac before, also one of Isa’s recipes, and I can tell you that it was delicious and super creamy. […]

  • […] to make the Chipotle Mac & Cheese With Roasted Brussels Sprouts but with the sauce from the Sunflower Mac recipe, so I started off with the Chipotle Mac & Cheese With Roasted Brussels Sprouts, and once […]

  • […] you wouldn’t be able to make this with sunflower seeds instead of cashews. I have made this Sunflower Mac before, also one of Isa’s recipes, and I can tell you that it was delicious and super creamy. […]

  • […] sprouts, sweet potatoes, whipped potatoes with cashew cream, macaroni and cheese adapted from this one on the PPK, Field Roast en croute, mushroom walnut stuffing, and Thick ‘n Rich […]

  • […] recipes often recreate a familiar comfort food with a whole-foods approach (see, for example, Post Punk Kitchen’s Sunflower Mac or Oh She Glows’ Maple Baked […]

  • Kelly

    Could you use tahini, do you think? Instead of soaked sunflower seeds? Just thinking I could make this without going to the store.

  • bonni

    And, unlike cashews, I can GROW sunflowers. Awesome. Question though: When you use nutritional yeast here, does it matter if you use powder, mini flakes, or regular flakes?

  • Julia

    Made this tonight: delicious, but I had to make a few modifications because the sauce was tasting pretty bland. I added: about 2 tbsp of white miso, some smoked paprika, and a little more salt. Helped a lot!

    I’m not allergic to anything, I just had a bunch of sunflower seeds and wanted to use them up.

  • Stephanie

    Is the tomatoe paste just for flavor and is there something I could sub for it or just leave it out? My little is allergic to tomatoes.

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