Lots of people have sworn off dairy. Sometimes it’s lactose intolerance. Sometimes it’s the cholesterol. And sometimes, we just don’t want to eat animal products, having taken the vegan plunge. Whatever the reason, there may well be times where you find yourself missing the creamy cheesy taste, especially of comfort foods like mac & cheese.
This vegan version (yes, it can even be made gluten-free) uses cashew cream, slightly cultured, and a few other ingredients and will satisfy the craving. Of course, lest you are trying to nurture the pudge, you may want to save it for a once-in-a-while treat.
Special thanks to Miyoko Schinner, author of Artisan Vegan Cheese, who was the inspiration for this recipe!
1 cup raw cashews
2 cups water
¼ cup nutritional yeast flakes
¼ tsp turmeric
1 tsp salt
Ground Pepper to taste
1 ½ cups dried penne or other macaroni (gluten free ok)
3 tbsp. crushed crackers or breadcrumbs plus olive oil or vegan “butter” for top
HOW TO MAKE IT:
NOTE: If you do not have a high-speed blender (e.g., Vitamix) , soak cashews for 3-8 hours and drain. If using a high-speed blender, it’s ok to use raw nuts just as they are.
Step One: Blend cashews and water in blender until it forms a cashew “cream.” Transfer to a glass jar and let sit unrefrigerated, lightly covered, 12-24 hours. This will give the “cream” a slightly cultured (sour) taste. If you skip this step, you can instead add 2 tsps. lemon juice when cooking but the result is not as tasty in our view.
Step Two: In a small, heavy saucepan, heat cultured cream on low-medium heat and whisk in salt, yeast flakes, turmeric and pepper. Stir for 3-5 minutes until mixture is slightly thickened and adjust seasonings if necessary.
Step Three: Cook pasta according to package directions, drain and combine with sauce. Transfer to greased baking dish.
Step Four: Top with bread crumbs and drizzle with oil (or dot with vegan “butter”), broil until browned.