Friday, April 20, 2007

Not-yo average Mac N Cheese

I love being vegan b/c I love healthy food and I love love cooking. That being said, every once in awhile, I, like anyone else, really need some down-home comfort food.

Mac 'n' Cheese is, of course, America's penultimate comfort food. I don't know if you've ever tried out of the box, dairy free "macncheez," but the stuff is foul. It's fake food and tastes like it. I'd basically given up on my search for vegan mac n cheese, content with my barrage of other happy, heart healthy foods, when lo and behold, my many friends and relatives with dairy, cholesterol, or other health issues started asking: "Hey, got a dairy free mac n cheese recipe?"

The recipe below is one that I'm still in the process of tweaking. It's super nacho-cheesey and I'll warn you, the stuff is really really rich. But it's also fun to make--and, even better, low-fat, high protein, cholesterol free, and full of B12 vitamins (which everyone, especially veggie folk, needs).

The recipe below will take you about 15 minutes to make if you're low tech like me, but only about 7 total if you've got a blender handy (toss everything in, blend, then put on the stove). The cheesiness will depend on how much pasta you feel like using with your cheese sauce. For a first run, I recommend using about half a pound.

On to the recipe:

All pictures taken with my low-fi, grainy camera phone as the digital is "in the shop." (The "shop" being my book shelf where the battery has somehow disappeared). All objects are gooier and brighter than they appear.

1/2 lb cooked pasta--I recommend shells

Not-yo average cheese:
2 cups water
3/4 cup nutritional yeast (NOT active dry yeast or bread yeast)
1/4 cup raw cashew pieces (i'm working on a nut free version)
1 tablespoon + 1 1/2 teaspoons spanish paprika
2 tablespoons arrow root
1 1/2-2 teaspoons garlic salt (depending on taste)
lemon juice (I use about 1/3 of a lemon and just squeeze the life out of it)
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 level teaspoon cumin

Before we go any further--let me just add, that another amazing thing about this recipe is that it's cheap--I bought all the ingredients you see above in the bulk spices section at my local coop market and they cost less than $5 all together!!

Ok, here's the fun part (if you're not going the blender route)

Use a big huge knife and something heavy (I favor coffee mugs myself) to smash the living heck out of the cashews. You'll want to get them to a powder if you can. A great task to relegate to little kids and/or males.

see how fun this is?

Once your cashews are set, toss everything into a saucepan and whisk or mix it. Mix it good. Turn on your burner to med-high heat, and keep on whisking. Your sauce will start to get really thick and gooey after about five minutes (if you've been whisking for about 7 minutes or so and it doesn't seem to be getting there just add a little more arrow root).

Mmmmm, gooeyness...

Once your Not-yo average cheez is ready, just dump right over your pasta. (This is optional but I like to toss a tablespoon of non-hydrogenated margarine in with the pasta and toss right before this). Voila! Your No-yo average MacNCheez is done.

final product

Variations: to make Not-yo average spicy taco dip, swap out the paprika for 1/4 cup roasted red peppers and one small can diced green chiles. Prepare the same way (mixin' the heck out of it and putting on the stove), then pour over some hot refried beans. Top with fresh tomatoes, shredded lettuce, olives, and guac.


Georgia said...

When I get up some motivation, I will give this a it seems pretty blasphemous to make DAIRY FREE mac and cheese. However, as they have somehow managed to make delicious non-dairy versions of other dairy products (read Ice Cream) I'll give it a try. I'm not sure that I will be I love cheese with all my heart...but who knows??

Randi said...

Alli - this rocks! my boyfriend in HS was vegan and constantly struggled with not being able to eat mac and cheese. I promise to blog soon ;)

AlliXT said...

I'm still tweaking--this is pretty good but it was soo soo rich it was hard to eat more than a little (even though I put away half the pot, haha).

If either of you guys try the nachos version let me know what you think (credit my mamma with the green chiles idea).

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