Thursday, February 3, 2011

I can't believe it's VEGAN Macaroni & "Cheese"!

So, what do you do when you are trying to transition your children to a mostly Vegan diet and they are obsessed with Kraft Macaroni & Cheese? This is what you do, my friends. You make THIS:

How is this amazingly cheesy VEGAN dish possible, you ask? I found the recipe here, and made a few small modifications as follows:

Vegan Macaroni & “Cheese”

Serves 6
What You Need:
pinch of sea salt
8 ounces whole grain macaroni or pasta of any shape

“Cheese” Sauce:
1 shallot or 1/4 onion, peeled and cut into large chunks
1/4 red bell pepper, cut in large chunks
1 cup red or gold potatoes (1 to 1.5 medium potatoes), peeled and cut into large chunks
1/4 cup carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
1 clove garlic
1 cup water
1/2 cup almond milk
1/4 cup raw cashews (or tahini)
2 teaspoons sea salt
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
⅓ cup coconut oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

What You Do:
Add shallots/onion, peppers, potatoes, carrots, garlic and water to a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Cover the pan and simmer for 15 minutes, or until vegetables are very soft.
While the vegetables are simmering, bring the water and salt to a boil in a large pot. Add pasta and cook until al dente. Drain pasta (do not rinse) and set aside with the lid on to keep pasta warm.
Process the cashews, salt, garlic, coconut oil, mustard, lemon juice and black pepper in a blender or food processor. Drain water from softened vegetables and add to blender along with ½ cup almond milk; process until perfectly smooth (use Soup button if you have a Blendtec).
In a large bowl, toss the cooked pasta and blended cheese sauce until completely coated. Serve immediately.
Witness the velvety texture of the "cheese" sauce--reminds me of Velveeta Shells and Cheese. The coconut oil gives it a creamy texture and a rich aroma. Does it taste exactly like the boxed variety? No. It tastes BETTER. At least, to me. It was the first cooked meal I've eaten in nearly three weeks, and it was really rather delicious. But I was not making it to convince MYSELF. What did the boys think? Well, my pickiest eater (and greatest Mac'N'Cheese lover) gave it his stamp of approval.

Owen had a second helping, Bentley had thirds, and you can't argue with an empty plate.