Sunday, May 29, 2011

Mac N Cheese N Nazis

This recipe is pretty famous.  I've heard about VegNews's Mac N Cheese for so long, and when I saw it again on epicurean vegan, I decided to finally give it a try.  I was pleased by the idea of a cheesy sauce that doesn't use anything "weird" like vegan cheese or silken tofu... but I was a bit underwhelmed by this recipe: it seemed rather bland and not very cheesy-tasting at all.  But given how popular it is, I'm definitely going to try it again some time, especially since I have a few ideas as to why it wasn't that exciting.  First of all, I was pretty sloppy with the measurements, and I think that using too much potato diluted the seasonings, especially salt.  Perhaps most egregiously, I forgot to add the 1/3 c earth balance to the sauce, which would have given it a much silkier, creamier texture.  And then finally, I did use brown rice pasta, which has a bit of a different texture--slightly firmer and gummier--though I think that actually might be nicer for a baked macaroni dish.

Other than the pasta and the dumb mistakes, I didn't change much about this recipe, but I have rearranged the ingredients and the directions in an order that seems more intuitive to me.

Mac N Cheese

1 c red potatoes, peeled and chopped
1/4 c carrot, chopped
1/3 c onion, chopped
2 TB shallots, chopped
1 c water
8-oz elbow macaroni (or similar--I used Trader Joe's brown rice penne pasta)
4 slices of bread, torn into large pieces
2 TB earth balance
1/4 c cashews
2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp garlic, minced
1/4 tsp Dijon mustard
1 TB lemon juice
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne
1/4 tsp paprika
1/3 c earth balance 
1/4 c nutritional yeast (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350. 
2. In a medium saucepan, combine the potatoes, carrots, onions, and shallots with the water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cover for 15 minutes.
3. Cook the pasta according to package instructions.
4. Place the bread pieces in a food processor with the 2 tablespoons of Earth Balance and process until well crumbly and well combined.
5. Meanwhile, in a blender or food processor, combine the cashews, salt, garlic, remaining margarine, Dijon, lemon juice, pepper, cayenne, and nutritional yeast, if using. I recommend grinding the cashews up first before adding the rest of the ingredients. Blend until smooth.
6. Add the vegetable/water mixture to the cashew mixture and blend it until smooth. You’ll end up with a creamy cheesy sauce.
7. In a large bowl, combine the sauce and pasta until well coated. Pour it into a 9×12 baking pan.  I actually made a half batch in an 8x8 pan.
8. Top with the breadcrumbs and sprinkle with paprika.  Bake for 25-30 minutes.  Serves 4-8.


I've also been going on some amazing hikes (with amazing people!) recently, and I'm going to take this opportunity to spam your googlereaders with a few photos from the most epic of these hikes.  This is a hike that starts in Will Rogers State Park and goes into Topanga to a valley where American Nazi sympathizers had a secret compound in the 1930s and 40s.  It was also briefly an artists' compound in the early 60s.  There are tons of ruins... and rattlesnakes.

1 comment:

janet @ the taste space said...

Wow - that looks like such an awesome hike! Nothing like a long walk to get you hungry to eat Mac and Cheese!