Thursday, December 9, 2010

Cashew Garlic Tetrazzini

Maybe it is just the time of year... or maybe it's the time of man... I suppose it's the weather that is making me want things like this.  Gone are the days (for now, anyway) when nothing sounds better than a salad and some hummus.  Brr.  The night I baked this dish, I also roasted some carrots and beets in the oven (at right).  My apartment was so cozy afterwards.

And wowww this is good comfort food.  The textures!  The tastes!  The stick-to-your-ribs-ness, like a blanket for your stomach! (and maybe also for your soul)  When I made it I was thinking of this dish called Turkey Tetrazzini that we used to make in my family when I was growing up (that photo on wikipedia is appalling!).  Really, what I loved about it was the spaghetti around the top and the edges that baked long enough to get chewy.  And here we have that as well!

I started with windy city vegan's recipe for Instant Mac n Cheese.  This is a pretty brilliant recipe in its own right, from it being a mix you can make in a large batch and then save for later, to it making a rich creamy sauce without the crutch--I mean, aid--of tofu or vegan cheese (ew).  Ok, so maybe arrowroot and nutritional yeast maybe aren't typical kitchen items, but they're one-ingredient ones, and you could easily make this recipe soy-free by skipping the soymilk.

I bought a 1.25 lb bag of arrowroot this weekend.  That is so much thickening power.

So, I made a 1/4 batch of the mac n cheese mix, except I added cayenne, tweaked some of the measurements, and omitted the onion powder and green onions.  I then sauteed some real onion in oil before adding the mix to it, along with some water and soymilk, until I had a sauce.  Given the arrowroot, I wasn't sure what was the best temperature at which to do this, so I kept the pot over very low heat.  The sauce still got pretty thick and hard to work with, but I added more liquid until it was okay.  Then into the oven!  A big, gelatinous wad of noodles might not sound (or look) too delicious, but it was the best thing I've had in weeks.  Perfect for a freezing cold rainy evening.

It all got eaten so quickly that there was barely any left to photograph!  

Cashew Garlic Tetrazzini
(adapted from Windy City Vegan)

3 servings whole wheat spaghetti or other pasta
dry mix:
3/4 c raw cashews, ground as finely as possible (I used a clean coffee grinder)
1/2 c nutritional yeast 
2 TB arrowroot powder
1 TB garlic powder 
1/2-1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp ground mustard
1/4 tsp paprika
1/8 tsp turmeric
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
1/8 tsp ground cumin
cayenne to taste
canola oil
1/2 onion, chopped
handful parsley, chopped
soymilk and water as needed

1. Preheat oven to 375*F. Generously oil a loaf-shaped baking dish.  Cook 3 servings whole wheat spaghetti according to directions; drain, rinse, and set aside.  Also combine dry mix ingredients and set aside.
2. In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat and add onions.  Saute 5-10 minutes, until somewhat translucent.  Turn off heat and stir in parsley.
3. Add dry mix to onion mixture and stir.  Turn heat on low, and add soymilk and/or water as needed until you have a slightly watery sauce.
4. Mix sauce well into spaghetti, then turn the whole mess into the baking dish.  Bake uncovered at 375*F for 30 minutes, or until the dish is bubbling and the noodles on top have gotten crispy-chewy.  Serve hot.  Serves about 3.

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