Plant-Based Baked Rotini and Cheese


 Guest post by: Elora Bazanele, Aramark Dietetic Intern


One of my all-time favorite comfort foods is Macaroni and Cheese. It’s a staple in many American households and is one that brings us thoughts of the cozy nights we’ve spent with our families. Therefore, I’ve decided to share with y’all one of my favorite recipes from my home to yours. This recipe is a nutrient rich vegetable-based take on the classic Macaroni and Cheese. The veggie based “cheese” sauce is completely dairy-free and vegan, and features sweet potatoes, cashews, and yellow onion. I’ve prepared this version of Macaroni and Cheese for many friends, family, and little guests who are shocked to find out that it doesn’t actually contain any cheese. Whether you want to improve your vegetable intake or have a child with a dairy allergy, this recipe sure to become a hit in your home.

Plant-Based Baked Rotini and Cheese

Prep: 10 minutes

Total: 45 minutes

Makes 4 servings


  • 8 ounces rotini pasta (I love to use Barilla’s Protein Plus pasta for this)
  • 1 1/3 heaping cups sweet potatoes, chopped
  • 1/3 cup yellow onion, and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons plant-based butter or vegetable oil of choice (I used Earth Balance)
  • 1/4 cup cashews
  • 1/4 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic, minced 
  • 1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard


1. Place a large pot of water (for the pasta) and a small pot or saucepan of water (for the sweet potato and onion) on the stove over medium high heat and bring to a boil.

2. While waiting for the water to boil: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Rinse and chop onion and sweet potato.

3. Once water is boiling: Add pasta to the large pot and sweet potato and onion to the small pot. Turn down heat to a soft boil on both so that it doesn’t boil over. Check back periodically to stir. The vegetables are done when they are soft, only about 10 min.

4. While pasta and veggies are cooking: Place plant-based butter or oil, cashews, salt, black pepper, paprika, garlic, and Dijon mustard into a blender or food processor.

5. When vegetables are done: Drain vegetables, reserve 1 cup of water from the vegetable pot, and add to the blender or food processor. Blend until smooth.

6. When pasta is done: Drain pasta in a colander and place back into cooled pot, add sauce and stir. Spread mixture into an 8 x 8 casserole dish. Add optional toppings such as cayenne pepper, breadcrumbs, or a sprinkle of cheese (I chose breadcrumbs). Bake for 7-10 minutes or until the sauce looks slightly golden on the top. Let cool and serve.

Serve the Baked Rotini and Cheese with a non-starchy vegetable to balance out the meal and add some color. I decided to make balsamic roasted brussel sprouts to pair with it. 



Elora is a Texas native who completed her undergraduate degree at Texas Woman’s University in Denton. She is a dietetic intern with Aramark and is completing her master’s degree in nutrition and food systems with the University of Southern Mississippi. 


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