Easy Vegan Mac and "Cheese"
As an American I feel a strong connection to Mac and Cheese. Something about the Kraft blue box commercials maybe or memories of my grandma making me homemade mac and cheese for lunch every time my brother and I were visiting. The memories, commercialism and delicious taste all combined make Mac and Cheese oddly personal for me and I'm sure for a lot of other Americans. However, the unfortunate fact about the delicious noodle dish is, it just isn't healthy or vegan for that matter. Any good non vegan mac recipe requires enormous amounts of cheese, butter, milk and of course macaroni. Hardly a nutrient in sight among all that fat and cholesterol. When I went vegan a little over a year ago this was one of the first recipes I ever tried to master. I figured if I could get my boyfriend to see how delicious and a cheesy dish could be without any cheese, then he would be more on board with my veganism and willing to try the rest of my vegan concoctions.
I think the recipe I've managed to create is about one of the easiest recipes I've seen out there. It isn't that original, or it uses a lot of the same ingredients you will see in other vegan mac and cheese recipes, minus most of the funny stuff and a lot of the fuss. Eight simple ingredients and no funny stuff, the way I like it. You don't need any fancy equipment but you will need a pot to boil all your veggies in. You will also need a good blender, a good blender is necessary. I have tried using a couple different kinds of food processors for this recipe and neither pulverize the cashews the way they need to be. So have a good blender. If you arne't sure if your blender will get up to a high enough speed I would recommend trying this recipe anyways. You may just need to blend your ingredients longer but that shouldn't be a problem.
Note, this recipe is also just for the vegan "cheese" sauce. I'm not going to tell you how to pour sauce onto cooked macaroni because I know you are not that helpless. I also won't tell you how to cook your pasta because all pastas are different. Just follow the directions on the package. Use gluten free, regular pasta, whatever, just make sure it's vegan.
"Cheese" sauce Ingredients:
(makes about 3-4 cups of sauce)
These ingredient measurements are rough for a reason, a little too much or little of any of the ingredients won't change the recipe that dramatically, so you can relax.
1 cup (approx.) chopped peeled and chopped potatoes
1 cup (approx.) peeled and chopped carrots
1/4 (approx.) of a medium size white or yellow onion
1/3 - 1/2 cup raw, unsalted cashews
1 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 Tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)
Put the onion, potatoes, carrots and cashews in a pot, fill with water, enough to cover your ingredients and then boil until your veggies are soft. Once you can stick a fork though them easily, they are done.
Once everything is soft, transfer all the veggies and cashews into your blender, reserving the water you boiled everything in. Add in all your spices and start blending. Add the cooking water as your blend, making sure to add no more than needed. Remember, you can always add in more water if your sauce is too thick but you can't really take the water back out if it's too thin so add the water in stages, just a little bit at a time. Once your sauce is completely creamy and cheesy looking it is finished!
Now you can serve it over your favorite kind of pasta and enjoy!
When you chop your veggies make sure you chop the potatoes bigger than the carrots. Carrots will take longer to cook so to keep your potatoes from completely falling apart, cut your carrots smaller. This will help everything cook a bit more evenly.
If you don't want to use all your cheese sauce at once, it will keep in the fridge for a few days.