Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Vegan Mac and Cheese

 It's tasty and it's the right color but it still didn't cure my mac and cheese craving.

Anyone on this crazy French Diet is familiar with figuring out diet friendly substitutions for the forbidden foods you crave.  Pureed cauliflower takes over for the super carby mashed potatoes.  Almond flour becomes your best friend when you crave naan or pizza.  And ribboned vegetables make a great stand in for pasta.  But sometimes the thing you are craving is just out of your reach because it just might not be possible to make with the dietary restrictions you're working with.

 Just this sort of culinary failure is plaguing me today.  All I wanted was some macaroni and cheese.  I have no idea why.  When I could have eaten all of it I wanted it never occurred to me to eat it because it was never a favorite of mine.  But true to my contrary nature the second my body decided to was totally intolerant to dairy my brain went on a frantic quest to try to convince me I needed to eat mac and cheese immediately or the world would end.

I put off the craving as long as possible but today I gave in and looked into the ridiculous possibility of vegan cheese.   I'll try anything once so I gave it a shot with what was touted as the "world's best recipe for vegan cheese" on many a food blog.  Turns out making vegan cheese is a time consuming, soul killing, messy process with a very strange end result.  The sauce I made was cheddar cheese colored and tasty but it was not at all cheese like or cheese flavored but I continued on hoping that once it mingled with my gluten free pasta and breadcrumbs and got toasty it would be amazing.

It was not meant to be so.  After being baked, what little moisture was in sauce had disappeared, I'm assuming because I omitted the potato from the original recipe and was having a hard time reading the original recipe due to it being in an oddly ordered and so put in the wrong amount of margarine.  However for a dry distinctly uncheesy pasta dish it is really good and I'm not just saying that.  If someone presented it as yummy noodles I would be very happy eating it.  It was only my strong desire for mac and cheese that made it not a totally satisfying experience.  Out of the context of cheese it's tasty.

So I rearranged the recipe for (I hope) ease of preparation in the hopes someone else will try this with better results to let me know if I should try to make it again.  If  you want to give it a go with the potato from the original recipe then take out one cup of the carrots and use a small red potato then let me know what happens.

Vegan Mac and Cheese


4 quarts water
1 tablespoon sea salt
8 ounces macaroni

Just in case you don't know how to make pasta:  In a large pot, bring the water and salt to a boil. Add macaroni and cook until al dente. In a colander, drain pasta and rinse with cold water. Return to pot and set aside.


4 slices of bread, torn into large pieces
2 tablespoons non-hydrogenated margarine (I used Shedd's soy margarine)

In a food processor, make breadcrumbs by pulverizing the bread and 2 tablespoons margarine to a medium-fine texture. Put in a bowl and set aside.


1 medium shallots, peeled and chopped
1 and 1/4 cup carrots, peeled and chopped  (about 3 medium carrots)
1/2 of a small onion, peeled and chopped
1 cup water

1 small clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup raw cashews
2 teaspoons sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/3 cup non-hydrogenated margarine
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a saucepan, add shallots, carrots, onion, and water, and bring to a boil. Cover the pan and simmer for 15 minutes, or until vegetables are very soft.

In a food processor, blend the garlic, cashews, salt, black pepper, paprika, cayenne, mustard, margarine, and  lemon juice. Add softened vegetables and cooking water to the blender and process until perfectly smooth.

Pour “cheese” mixture onto the pasta and toss together until pasta is completely coated. Spread mixture into a 9 x 12 casserole dish, sprinkle with prepared breadcrumbs, and dust with paprika. Bake for 30 minutes or until the cheese sauce is bubbling and the top has turned golden brown.

Original recipe from Veg News food blog.


Kristin said...

My once-vegan roommate used to eat Better than Cream Cheese from Tofutti. It appears gluten-free, although you may want to double-check, and I can't vouch for its meltiness, but the taste was pretty good. It's in most supermarkets, so I may be telling you something you already know, but fwiw.

Emily said...

Kristin, that's so simple I never thought of it. I've never tried any of the Tofutti stuff so I should probably remedy that situation soon. Thanks for the suggestion.

Kristin said...

It's probably more fun/better to make it yourself if you can (I don't know if Tofutti's products are considered highly processed or not), but for a quick fix, it might work. Let me know if you try it!