RECIPE. Apr 17, 2011

Mac ‘n Cheese Craving

I was yearning for the warm, gooey, rich and creamy taste of macaroni and cheese. I have also been dying for a slice of thick, sweet cheesecake and the tart, sharpness of blue cheese in my salad. While the latter two felt like impossible hurdles, the first felt like a decent challenge. During the height of my desire I happened to stumble on an incredible recipe that looked like it didn’t take too much time, energy or money and promised to deliver that creamy familiar comfort food straight into my mouth. I’ll skip to the end and tell you I was shocked by the power of nutritional yeast. Until this day it had been brought into daylight from the spice cupboard only to flavor my popcorn every so slightly. I’m ashamed to admit I did not realize it’s incredible transformative power.

You may be asking, “What the heck is nutritional yeast?!” Wikipedia says, “It is a source of protein and vitamins, especially the B-complex vitamins and is a complete protein. It is also naturally low in fat and sodium and it is free of sugar, dairy, and gluten.” So it’s actually fairly incredible and cheap. As I write this post I am already craving this dish all over again and plan on making it this week for dinner. The sauce makes enough to easily feed 6-8 people and I ate the leftovers happily for lunch for about a week. I added ham and next time I think I will add broccoli or peas. I loved the dish even better the next day after sitting in the fridge.

The recipe was taken from my current favorite vegan cooking blog. She continues to blow me away with her creative and delicious dishes. I open my browser to complete a task, see a new post and get completely lost in her site for at least 20-60 minutes before I go back to my original task. She is what I aspire to be and I hope to someday have that kind of genius in the kitchen.

Preheat oven to 350F and line a baking sheet.  In a bowl, season chopped squash with some oil (~1 tsp) and kosher salt (couple pinches) and stir. Add to baking sheet and roast in oven for 40 minutes, flipping once half way through baking.

Assemble your cheeze sauce ingredients (cashews, non-dairy milk, garlic, lemon, salt, nutritional yeast, pepper, mustard, seasonings) and add just the cashews to food processor. I love how colorful it is! Process until a fine crumb forms similar to corn meal. Now add in the rest of the cheese sauce ingredients and process until smooth. Leave the sauce in the processor as you will be adding the squash.

Cook your pasta according to package directions. When squash is finished roasting, add it to the food processor and blend it with the cheese sauce until smooth. Adjust to taste. The sauce will thicken up with time. If at any point the sauce becomes too thick, you can add a bit of milk to thin it out.

Drain and rinse pasta with cold water. Now add the pasta back into the same pot and add your desired amount of cheeze sauce on top. Stir well. Add in any desired mix-ins like peas or broccoli and re-heat in the pot. Store any leftover sauce in the fridge and use within a few days.

My husband brought home this beer from a co-worker who was sharing his favorite brew. I drank the whole thing like it was water. Great beer, especially in compliment with this dish.