Friday, April 1, 2011

Vegan Mac and Cheese

My cousin wrote to me the other day to say that he and his wife are having some vegan company for dinner this weekend (is it just me, or did that make them sound like cannibals??). Vegan company OVER for dinner this weekend. Better?
He wanted some ideas about what they might serve as an entree, figuring they could manage all the other courses pretty handily. Well I'm no vegan, but I was able to offer up this mac n' cheese as an option since I'd been planning on posting it soon anyway. After typing up the recipe for Steve, I just wasn't going to get it out of my head until I made it. The Monster was more than happy about that, so Friday dinner at home it was. Oh Comfort. Food.
Best part, my friends just happened to bring over their hi-powered, jet engine run blender for me to try out today. It worked like a champ in making the sauce! (Thanks ladies!!)

The original recipe is from VegNews and didn't call for any nutritional yeast...a common ingredient in most vegan mac n' cheese recipes. The Monster and I however like the taste, so I added in a few tablespoons worth to up the cheesy flavor. I also use half soy milk instead of all water, add a bunch of broccoli and reduce the Earth Balance a bit.
It's really quite a delicious concoction. Do try it if your tummy is in need of a hug. :-)

Vegan Mac and Cheese:
(adapted from VegNews recipe)

4 quarts water
1 Tbs salt
~4 cups bite sized broccoli florets
8 ounces of pasta (I use Tinkyada brand brown rice rotini...great pasta and all we use!)
3-4 small slices of bread (I used Alvarado sprouted whole wheat with flax)
2 Tbs. + 1/4 cup non-hydrogenated margarine (Earth Balance)
~2 Tbs. chopped shallots (if I have them I'll use them, if not I just up the onion amt. a bit)
~1 1/4 cup peeled and diced Yukon gold potatoes (it was from a medium sized potato)
~1/3 cup diced carrots
~1/3 cup chopped onion
1 cup water
1/2 cup unsweetened soy milk
rounded 1/4 cup raw cashews
1-2 tsp sea salt (original calls for 2, I use a little more than 1 then add large flaked sea salt to finish the top)
1/4 tsp minced garlic
1/4 tsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbs fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/8+ tsp cayenne
1/4 tsp paprika
2-3 Tbs nutritional yeast flakes (or to taste since original recipe didn't call for)

In a large pot, bring the water to a boil.
Add the broccoli and blanch for about 2 minutes, then strain broc. and put it in ice water to shock it. Drain and set aside.

Once your water is back at a rolling boil, salt the water and cook pasta as directed. Rinse noodles with cold water after cooking, and set aside.

In a food processor, make breadcrumbs by pulverizing the bread and 2 Tbs of Earth Balance to a medium-fine texture. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350.
In a sauce pan, add shallots, potatoes, carrots, onion, and ~1 cup water and bring to a boil. Cover pan and simmer for 15 minutes on low or until vegetables are very soft. Drain vegetables saving the water for later use.
In a blender, process cashews, soy milk, salt, garlic, 1/4 cup margarine, mustard, lemon juice, black pepper, paprika, and cayenne.
Add softened vegetables, and 1/2 cup (or more if needed) of the cooking water from the vegetables and process until perfectly smooth.
Add in the nutritional yeast, blend and taste. Adjust spices if necessary.
In a large bowl, toss the cooked pasta, broccoli and cheese sauce until completely coated.
Spread mixture into a medium-sized casserole dish rubbed with Earth Balance and sprinkle top with prepared breadcrumbs (not that it tasted bad by ANY means, but I may have over done it on the amt. of breadcrumbs this time).
Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the cheese sauce is bubbling and the top has turned golden brown. I actually pop this under the broiler for a couple minutes after it gets bubbly to toast the breadcrumbs. Watch carefully that they don't burn.

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