2 to 3 teaspoons apple cider vinegar or distilled white vinegar, to taste
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil for the pasta. Cook according to package directions. If using broccoli, stir it into the pot when just 2 to 3 more minutes remain. Drain, and transfer the contents to a large serving bowl.
Meanwhile, in a medium-to-large saucepan, warm the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring often, until the onion is tender and turning translucent, about 5 minutes.
Add the grated potato, garlic, garlic powder, onion powder, mustard powder, salt and red pepper flakes. Stir to combine, and cook, stirring constantly, for about 1 minute to enhance their flavors.
Add the cashews and water, and stir to combine. Let the mixture come to a simmer. Continue simmering, stirring frequently and reducing heat as necessary to avoid a rapid boil, until the potatoes are completely tender and cooked through, about 5 to 8 minutes.
Carefully pour the mixture into a blender. Add the nutritional yeast and 2 teaspoons vinegar. Blend until the mixture is completely smooth, about 2 minutes, stopping to scrape down the sides if necessary. If the mixture won’t blend easily or if you would prefer a thinner consistency, add water in ¼ cup increments, blending after each one.
Taste, and blend in additional salt until the sauce is utterly irresistible (I typically add at least another ½ teaspoon). If it needs a little more zip, add the remaining teaspoon of vinegar. Blend again.
Pour the sauce into the bowl of pasta. Stir until well combined, and serve immediately. Leftovers keep well, chilled and covered, for 3 to 4 days. Gentle reheat, adding a tiny splash of water if necessary to loosen up the sauce.
Make it gluten free: Simply use your favorite gluten-free noodles.
*On broccoli: You can omit the broccoli altogether, or replace it with finely chopped kale or peas (about 1 1/2 cups). If you omit it, you might not need to use all of the sauce.
**Raw cashew notes: Most recipes like this suggest soaking the cashews for 4 hours in advance to make them easier to blend and to digest. I honestly never soak mine since I have a powerful Vitamix that blends them right up. The cashews in this recipe are cooked in hot liquid, so they’re softer and even easier to blend. However, if you don’t have a great blender or if you’re concerned about the digestibility factor, go ahead and soak them in advance.
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