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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Vegan Mac and Cheese

OK, let me just preface with the admission that this recipe does not taste like mac and cheese. It looks like mac and cheese so it fools your senses into thinking your eating mac and cheese. Those who love the creamy, smooth, tangy taste of cheese will definitely not be fooled. For Phoebe, who doesn't remember the taste of real cheese, this is not an issue. Those who are looking for a healthy alternative to mac and cheese will find that this tastes pretty good.

1 lb macaroni
2 c pasta water
1/2 large onion diced
2 celery stalks chopped
1 cauliflower (cut into florets)
1 t herbes de Provence
2 16-oz bags frozen butternut squash
1 t garlic powder
1 T dijon mustard
8 T nutritional yeast*
2 slices sourdough bread
olive oil
salt to taste

*Nutritional yeast is available at Whole Foods. It adds savory flavor to food (the way chicken broth or MSG makes things tasty) and provides protein and vitamin B. If you don't want to use nutritional yeast, you can add some silken tofu to your casserole for protein. Keep in mind that you will have to season the tofu generously with salt.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Put bread in a food processor to make bread crumbs. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Salt boiling water generously with kosher salt and cook macaroni a little shy of al dente (about 5 minutes). Reserve 2 c of pasta water before draining pasta.

Cook cauliflower florets, celery, onion, herbes de Provence, and garlic powder until tender.

Add butternut squash and pasta water. Cook until squash is no longer frozen.

Puree vegetables until smooth.

Add dijon mustard and nutritional yeast.

Fold in pasta. Pour into 9 x 13 casserole dish. Cover with bread crumbs. Drizzle olive oil over crumbs.

Bake for 10 minutes. Makes 8 to 10 servings.

Phoebe loves her mock mac and cheese. And for the cheese lovers in my family, sometimes I'll top half of the casserole with cheddar so they don't feel too deprived.

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