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Cauliflower mac ’n’ jack with crispy caper bites

Masterchef finalist and author of 'My Vegan Travels' cookbook, Jackie Kearney, has created a fabulously creamy, cheesy and indulgent macaroni cheese that's completely dairy-free and low in calories too!

Serves 6

Prep Time 25 min + soaking

Cooking Time 40 min


  • Spray cooking oil
  • 1 cauliflower, cut into large florets
  • 200g macaroni or penne
  • 1 litre almond milk
  • 2 bay leaves
  • A few sprigs fresh thyme
  • 100g cashew nuts, soaked in water for 2 hr
  • 3tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2tbsp plain flour
  • 4–5tbsp (to taste) nutritional yeast flakes
  • 3tsp English mustard (or 2tsp mustard powder)
  • 2tsp onion powder (available from
  • 1tsp sweet smoked paprika
  • ½tsp white pepper
  • 60ml Jack Daniels or other whisky (or to taste) or water
  • 1tbsp grated vegan parmesan-style cheese (optional)
  • For the crispy caper bites
  • 1–2tbsp capers (or green olives), chopped
  • 1tbsp cornflour
  • 1tsp rock salt
  • 1tsp vegetable oil


  1. Heat the oven to 220°C/fan 200°C/gas 7. Spray a large baking tray with oil and spread out the cauliflower florets on it. Bake for 20 min until starting to turn golden and brown.
  2. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in unsalted boiling water for 4 min less than pack instructions, then drain, reserving a little of the cooking water. In a small pan, heat the almond milk over a low heat with the bay leaves and thyme. Bring to a gentle simmer, then remove from the heat and leave the herbs to infuse. Drain the cashews, then blend to a fine paste in a food processor.
  3. In a deep frying pan, heat the vegetable oil over a medium heat. Add the flour and whisk together to make a roux, cooking gently for 2–3 min. Strain the milk into a jug, then add slowly to the roux, a little at a time, whisking constantly over a low heat until all the milk is combined and you have a thick and creamy sauce. Add the nutritional yeast, mustard, onion powder, paprika and pepper. Add the blended cashews and whisky or water, stirring to combine. Remove from the heat.
  4. In a large bowl, mix the pasta and the sauce, then add the cauliflower florets and combine, adding a little of the reserved pasta water if dry (there should be plenty of sauce). Tip into a large baking dish, then bake for 15–20 min.
  5. In a bowl, whisk all the pancake ingredients apart from the spray oil and yogurt together until smooth. Leave to sit for 10 min, then stir again.
  6. Meanwhile, to make the crispy caper bites, lay the capers or olives on kitchen paper to dry. On a small plate, mix together the cornflour and rock salt and toss the capers or olives in this mixture. Lay them on a roasting tray and toss in 1tsp vegetable oil, then bake on a medium-high heat for a few min until crisp and golden. Drain on kitchen paper.
  7. Sprinkle the caper bites over the top of the baked cauliflower pasta. Add a grind of black pepper and add a sprinkling of vegan cheese, if using. Serve with a large side salad if you want to bulk it out.

Nutrition per serving

Read more on how we calculate nutrition.
400 12.3g 19.1g 2.8g 4.5g 8.4g 1.2g 263mg 42.8g 2.6mg

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