I’m excited to announce that we’ve officially partnered with the Meatless Monday Campaign. Launched in 2003 in conjunction with John Hopkins to get people to cut down on meat consumption for both health and environmental reasons, it has since become a truly global movement. Schools, companies, restaurants and bloggers like me participate in the campaign on a weekly basis. The recipes made will be shared on various media outlets to get the word out.
Ours will still be the vegan recipes you’ve come to know, but also marketed to those who may not yet have become vegan. Maybe they are interested but don’t know where to begin. I think it’s a great resource, so on that note…let’s get started with this week’s recipe!
Vegan Mac and Cheese. Now, this recipe’s goal is to offer an alternative to cheese. While you could certainly use a vegan cheese product, I have yet to find a melting vegan alternative I love. So this is more of a flavorful cheese-like vegetable based sauce.
It’s thick, creamy and tastes delicious!
The very first thing we need to do is soak the cashews. I wasn’t able to find raw cashews in my local store, so I got lightly roasted. In this dish, it only added to the flavor. We want to soak them for at least 30 minutes to an hour to make them soft enough to puree into a cream. If you are not using a high speed blender, just soak them overnight. The water gets discarded prior to blending.
Next, we saute diced potatoes, carrots and onions in a low-sodium vegetable broth. This one is the Imagine brand which has a really rich color to it. Once the vegetables become tender, it all gets added to the blender. Allow to cool for a minute or two. You never want to add a hot mixture to a blender. Things expand and there is potential for the lid to be forced off. We don’t want any kitchen accidents here.
In addition to the cashews and vegetable mixture, we also add almond milk and seasonings.
And this is what it looks like after 1 minute of blending. At this point, it’s important to taste for seasoning and adjust for consistency. A little salt and maybe a smidge more broth may be in order.
Once you have a tasty, creamy sauce, it’s time to fold it into the pasta. We boiled up some medium shells, but you could also use traditional elbows.
If you like your mac and “cheese” a bit looser, you can enjoy it right now. This next step is completely optional, but it’s how we do it in my family.
Spoon the mac and cheese into an oven safe dish and top with panko bread crumbs. We melted a bit of vegan margarine with those crumbs so we’d get a nice golden crust. Pop it into a 350 degree oven just until browned and you are done.
It looks pretty convincing, doesn’t it? The secret to this vegan mac and “cheese” is all in the sauce. It’s about building flavor. This is a nice, healthy alternative to the traditional dish. I served mine with glazed carrots and garnished with fresh parsley.
This recipe serves four people.