Category: fake cheese

Mac and Cheese. Cheeze? Yeast?

Mac and Cheeze and Broccoli

There are innumerable recipes for vegan mac and cheese on the internet. I’ve tried a lot of them. Some of them simply call for “slices of soy cheese” and some vegetable stock to be mixed over pasta. The majority, however, require nutritional yeast, and they usually also require making a roux. The recipe below is from my upcoming cookbook, and it’s one of my favorites. However, if you’ll indulge me for a moment, there are some things about vegan mac and cheeze I want to talk about.

Now, I’m the first to admit “Mac and Yeast” doesn’t quite have the same ring to it. That’s why I tend to call it “Mac and Cheeze”. But I’m also the first to admit that these recipes, even the best of them, don’t really taste all that much like mac and cheese. Some get much closer than others, and a lot are downright tasty. But it’s not cheese. Your omnivore or veggie friend/spouse/child may love it as much as or even more than the real stuff (if you’re lucky), but they probably love it on its own merits, not because they really can’t tell the difference.

But you know what? It doesn’t have to taste exactly the same for me to love it.

A lot of people, myself included, are really interested in making vegan food that’s indistinguishable from the “real” thing. It’s a fun challenge, and oftentimes, a challenge where you can really and truly be successful. But there are many instances where you don’t create something identical, but what you do create is actually good. Different, but yummy. While vegan mac and cheese doesn’t taste exactly like non-vegan mac and cheese, it satisfies the same craving. It’s rich and creamy and salty and vaguely cheese-like. It’s a yummy, thick creamy sauce to top noodles with.

I think that sometimes it’s enough to satisfy your cravings with something similar, if you can’t find something identical. After three years of being vegan, I don’t even crave mac and cheese anymore; I crave mac and yeast.

I think expectation is important with food. If it looks like a grape, you expect it to taste like a grape. If I hand you a glass of sparkling wine and tell you it’s gingerale, you might be put off when you take a sip. You might even like wine, but you expected it to be, well, not wine. If I say, “here, try this mac and cheese” and give you mac and yeast, you might be disappointed when you tasted it. If you’ve never tried a mac and yeast recipe before, and you want to try this one, keep in mind that it doesn’t taste like cheese.

It just tastes like yummy. Well, it does to me and the vegans that tested the recipe for me!

Mac and Cheeze
Serves 2-3

1/3 Cup Earth Balance Margarine
1/4 Cup All Purpose Flour
2 1/2 Tbs Low Sodium Tamari or Soy Sauce
1 Tbs Lemon Juice, fresh
1 Tbs Sweet/White/Mellow Miso
1 Tbs Tahini
1 Tbs Tomato Paste (not sauce!)
1 1/4 Cup Soy Milk
1/3 Cup Nutritional Yeast
1 Pinch Salt
Black Pepper, to taste

Begin by heating a sauce pan and adding the earth balance. Once melted, add flour and whisk vigorously until a smooth paste forms, called a roux. Be careful not to add flour to a pan that is very hot, or your roux will be lumpy and you’ll need to start over. If you mix in the flour as soon as the margarine is melted and you should avoid any problems.

To this paste, add tamari, lemon, miso, tahini, and tomato paste and whisk until well incorporated. The mixture should still be paste-like. Then slowly pour in the soymilk, whisking constantly, until it is completely incorporated. Add the yeast and mix well. Cook the mixture until it thickens, whisking often. This should take approximately 5 minutes, but it’s flexible. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Mac and Cheeze

I like this the most baked. Cook 3 cups of dry, small pasta (like elbows or shells or rotini) and toss with the finished cheezy sauce. Add steamed broccoli (pictured) for a real treat. Top with fresh breadcrumbs and bake at 400º for 25 minutes, or until browned and bubbly.

I’ve spilled so much ink so far (well, pixels) telling you that vegan cheese doesn’t taste like cheese, so I figured I’d close the entry with this: vegan cheese that, to me, tastes like mother forkin’ cheese! It deserves an entire entry devoted to it, so I’ll just leave you with this until part two of my vegan cheese post:

Medium Cheddar Sheese

Cappellini in Fresh Tomato Cream Sauce

Cappellini in Fresh Tomato Cream Sauce

I’ve been thinking about creating a tomato cream sauce for a while. Actually, I wanted to make a vodka sauce, but I absolutely cannot stand vodka so we never have any in the house. We do, however, continually have a veritable mountain of tomatoes in the kitchen. Hello, Summer!

I’m beginning to get a huge crush on blender sauces. Toss everything into the blender, whiz it up, heat it up and you’re done. Between the blender sauce and the cappellini (aka angel hair) that cooks in 2-3 minutes, this is a lightning quick meal. It’s fast and tasty, but not exactly healthy. It’s a cream sauce! What do you want from me?!

The sauce makes enough to coat two reasonable portions of pasta. I say “reasonable” because when it comes to pasta, that’s not what I usually make. I tend to go for “ridiculous” which usually ends in my husband and I complaining that are stomachs are going to absolutelyexploderightthisminute for an hour after eating. If you make more than two lunch-sized pasta portions, you might want to make more sauce. However, you don’t want to drown your cappellini. This dish works best when it’s just lightly coated.

Cappellini in Fresh Tomato Cream Sauce
Serves Two

4 Small Tomatoes, quartered (about 2 Cups)
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Italian Herbs of your choice
3 Tbs Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese
1 Tbs Earth Balance
1 Tbs Nutritional Yeast
2-4 Cloves Garlic, optional

Heat well-salted water for you pasta.

While heating, whiz your tomatoes around in your blender until it becomes as smooth as it’s going to get. You should now have 1 cup of pink tomato sludge. Add remaining ingredients and blend again until well combined. Add mixture to a skillet over medium heat. Once you start to see it bubble, you’re going to have to stir it fairly constantly so it doesn’t burn. Use one of those fun rubber spatulas for this, I think it does the job best.

The sauce will be a light pink color when you start, but by the time it’s done it’ll be a rich, creamy orange. You basically want to cook it until the tomatoes lose their raw taste, which shouldn’t take too long, about 10 minutes.

Just before the sauce is done, add your pasta (broken in half for easier mixing with the sauce) to the water. Check for doneness after 2 minutes. Strain and add pasta directly to the sauce, right in the skillet there on the stove. Mix well and serve immediately topped with lots of freshly cracked black pepper.

If this dish sits after the sauce is added, it’ll clump up a bit. It’ll still be tasty, but the noodles will stick together. It’s best if you time it so you can serve it immediately. That should be pretty easy to do since the pasta cooks so quickly–just have it be the last part of your meal that you prepare.