I like trying different recipes for mac & cheeze. I make my own version most often, but I’m always up for improving and changing my recipes when I can.
Recently, I saw that VegNews had an interesting recipe. They use potatoes and carrots for the base (certainly healthier than my version) and cashews for the creaminess. I’m a huge fan of cashews to make sauces rich and creamy. So I made the recipe and was intrigued. The texture was AWESOME, the color was good, it was a little on the salty side… overall really nice. But it tasted a little too vegetable-y for my liking.
Now, vegan mac & cheese doesn’t really taste 100% like the non-vegan stuff. And that’s cool with me. I just want it to taste good, and to satisfy a craving for a creamy baked pasta dish, you know? My other post has more of my thoughts on that.
I decided to combine my recipe with with the VegNews recipe. I kept the potato and the carrots for the base, added some of my favorite flavorings, and left out some of theirs. For example, I took out the onion/garlic/shallots. I’m not the biggest fan of those things to begin with, but I don’t ever remember having mac & cheese taste like onions. I know I just said it doesn’t have to taste the same, but those just aren’t the flavors I think of when I imagine mac & cheese, you know?
Again, for easy link finding, here’s VegNew’s awesome recipe. And without further ado, here’s my interpretation:
VegYum Mac & Cheeze
8-10 Oz Whole Wheat Rotini
2 Cups Steamed Broccoli Florets
2 Pieces of Bread, toasted and ground to breadcrumbs
1 Cup Peeled, Finely Chopped Potatoes
1/4 Cup Peeled, Finely Chopped Carrots
1 Cup Water
1/3 Cup Raw Cashews
1 Tbs Miso (any kind, I like red)
1 Tbs Tahini
1 Tbs Lemon Juice (sub: 2 tsp White Wine Vinegar)
1/2 tsp Dijon Mustard
1/3 Cup Earth Balance Margarine
1/3 Cup Nutritional Yeast
1 to 1 1/2 tsp Salt
Black Pepper to taste
Paprika for sprinkling
Preheat oven to 350º
Heat a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente. Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, steam broccoli and set aside. I use my rice cooker. Simply put the florets in the cooker with 2-3 Tbs of hot water and turn the cooker on. Broccoli will be bright green and tender-crisp when done. Don’t forget about it in there–it’ll finish cooking before the rice cooker clicks off, so if you forget about it, you’ll overcook your broccoli. Mine takes less than 10 minutes to cook.
Make sure the carrots and potatoes are chopped very small; this will reduce the cooking time greatly. Place the chopped potatoes and carrots in small sauce pan that has a lid. Add the 1 cup of water. Boil covered until tender, 10-15 minutes.
While the potatoes and carrots are cooking, add the remaining ingredients to the blender (cashew, miso, lemon juice, mustard, earth balance, nut. yeast, salt and pepper). Once potatoes and carrots are done cooking, add them and their cooking water to the blender as well. Blend until VERY smooth. If needed, add soymilk or water 1 Tbs at a time to thin. Taste for seasoning.
Toast the bread and process into crumbs.
Toss the cooked pasta and broccoli with the sauce. Place in a casserole dish and top with breadcrumbs, black pepper, and paprika.
Bake for 25 minute at 350º F until browned and bubbly. Serve.
I think I’ll make this version whenever I have potatoes handy. It’s a tiny bit lighter than my other version, but it still has a lot of flavor and creaminess. And it saves on soymilk, too!