Macaroni and Cheese

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As a child, I adored macaroni and cheese. We were a “from the box” kind of family, and so in the eternal battle between baked casserole or from the pot, I am on the side of the creamy from the pot variety. When I became a vegetarian, macaroni and cheese was one of the go-to options for when the food on my family’s dinner table was made of animal flesh. It was so easy, I could make it myself.

Well guess what? This recipe is so easy you can make it yourself too – and it’s vegan.

As a vegan, there is no way I want to give up the amazing, powerful comfort that comes from food like macaroni and cheese. So called comfort food truly does work to both satisfy your hunger and your emotional stresses. But because I no longer value my own pleasure at the dinner table more than the suffering of animals, I turned to Chef Chloe, an amazing young vegan chef who is taking the culinary world by storm and even won Cupcake Wars on the Food Network with vegan cupcakes. Although I normally dabble and change up most of the recipes I find online, hers is so delicious and reminds me so much of my childhood that I only made one or two minor switch-ups. So, without further ado:

Vegan Macaroni and Cheese

Ingredients

  • 1 pound of your favorite small pasta noodle (elbow, rotini, penne, etc)
  • 1/4 cup vegan butter (My favorite is Earth Balance)
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups of your favorite dairy free milk (I prefer almond milk)
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast flakes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons salt, or more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder, or more to taste
  • Lemon Juice, to taste

Preparation

Cook your pasta according to the directions on the package.

While your pasta is cooking, melt the butter in a small saucepan and whisk the flour into the butter on medium heat. Whisk for about two minutes, or until the mixture forms a paste like in the picture here.20130507_191513 Once your roux, or flour-butter mixture is the proper consistency, whisk in all of the dairy-free milk, nutritional yeast flakes, tomato paste, and the salt and garlic powder. Bring to a boil, then heat at a low simmer while whisking frequently until the sauce becomes thick and creamy. At this point, taste the mixture and season to your taste with lemon juice (and more salt or garlic powder if you choose).

20130507_193349Drain your pasta and pour it back into the pot. Pour the sauce over the pasta and stir. You’re done! Enjoy the delicious, creamy, cruelty-free comfort that only vegan macaroni and cheese can truly provide.

As a side-note, Chef Chloe’s original recipe called for broccoli mixed in as well. Sometimes I’ll mix in broccoli like she suggests, or sometimes I like to throw in red pinto beans for an added protein kick. No matter what, I enjoy this recipe every time I make it. I hope you do too.

Parmesan Cheese Topping

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Herbivores, omnivores, and carnivores alike know that any plain or dull meal can be made amazing with a little sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. You know the kind, in the green plastic container that you shake, and shake, and shake. I used to be exactly like that, shaking piles of the stuff over pasta, vegetables, or whatever else needed a little kick. But what kind of chemicals, animal parts, and other unhealthy granules was I adding into my food?

I haven’t found the answer to that, but what I have found is an easier solution: make vegan Parmesan cheese topping. It’s easy and incredibly delicious, and comes from Veggiful.com. Try it, you’ll fall in love with it as quickly as I did.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup raw, unsalted cashews
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1 teaspoon salt

A few notes about these ingredients: first of all, cashews may seem like an expensive product if you buy them in small portions, but if you buy in bulk they can be very economical. Just freeze any cashews you don’t use and they’ll keep perfectly until you need them again. I use tons of cashews in the recipes I make, so I always have cashews stored in the freezer.

Secondly, what the heck are nutritional yeast flakes? If you’re asking yourself that question, you’re just like me, when I first encountered “nooch”, as the internet fondly calls these yellowish flakes. In short, nooch is a deactivated yeast that grows on molasses and is the ONLY vegan source of Vitamin B12. Plus, it has a distinctly cheesy flavor, meaning it is in a majority of vegan cheese recipes. Therefore, it’s natural, healthy, and super delicious.

Now, as for the preparation: blend together in a food processor. Yes, it’s that easy. You don’t want to completely grind the cashews, but you want to blend until you almost have a powder, with some cashew bits still visible. It should look something like this:

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And that’s it. Store in the refrigerator and use to top anything you would top with Parmesan cheese, such as pasta or vegetables. And feel proud of yourself because you made it from scratch. Enjoy!