Vegan Mac and Cheese

This recipe is adapted from Dreena Burton’s mac and cheese recipe using raw nuts as a base for the cream sauce. I know what you’re thinking. Gross. I thought that too, I promise. However, I decided I can’t really call something gross until I have actually had it on my tongue and been grossed out by it, so here goes.

I’m going to recommend that you use a bread crumb topping as it TOTALLY adds to the comfort food yumminess factor.

OH, and we all effing LOVED it. Aside from it needing a crapload of salt, it was creamy, dreamy goodness and I WILL be making it again. And it tastes nothing like cheese, so don’t kid yourself. But it was still a wonderful creamy sauce that I had been missing for some time now. Here’s the recipe with my adaptations. You may visit her website for the original.

Pasta:
10 ounces of whole wheat (or some other healthy-ish grain) dry elbow macaroni

Sauce:
1/2 cup raw cashews
1/2 cup raw brazil nuts (I thought these were going to be expensive, but I found them at Trader Joe’s pretty reasonable, along with the cashews. They have a whole nut wall, it’s pretty amazing.)
3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 large clove garlic (I used 4 cloves of garlic. You can never have too much garlic!)
2 tsp arrowroot powder
1 tsp sea salt (Yeah…you may want to double this. Just sayin’…)
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1 cup water (Iused the pasta water from before I drained it. It helps to get the sauce to stick to the noodles. Ask Giada.)
1 1/2 cups plain non-dairy milk (I used rice milk, all my other non-dairy beverages are flavored with vanilla or chocolate.)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Breadcrumb Topping:
1 1/2 cups dry whole-grain breadcrumbs
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp sea salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Get all ingredients ready to blend for sauce, then start cooking pasta. While pasta is cooking, blend all sauce ingredients in a blender. Begin blending the nuts and other ingredients with enough liquid to come just over the nuts mixture. Then, once it is smooth, add the rest of the liquid. Get it? This helps to make sure that your nuts are totally pureed. (Hehe Heh…your nuts are pureed. Ahem, anyway.) If you just put it all in together, you will get chunks of nuts and that’s not what we’re going for here. Think…creamy…smooth… You will still have itty bitty bits of nuts and that’s unavoidable, really.

Once pasta is almost tender, fully drain (don’t rinse). Pour noodles into 8×12 baking dish lightly sprayed with no-stick then pour sauce on top. Mix around a little if you want. (It will look like there is a lot of runny sauce – it will thicken up, fear not! trust the pasta!) Mix breadcrumb toppings in a small bowl, then sprinkle over top of casserole. Cover with foil and bake for 18 minutes. Then, remove foil cover and bake another 6 minutes or until topping is golden brown and crisped. Don’t overbake or sauce will get too thick. Remove from oven.

Serve! And don’t ask how much fat and all that crap is in there. If you’re vegan and you’ve been missing creamy sauces, just shut up and eat it. I like to put crushed red pepper on mine because I love things spicy. and not just a little heat, either. I want it to pretty much burn my face off as I’m eating it.

I hope you enjoy this as much as I did! Until next time…

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