Friday, October 26, 2012

Vegan "Grown Up Mac N Cheese"

First off let me say that this recipe is a hit for vegans and carnivores alike! It makes a 13x9 pan of Mac N Cheese, and when I made it the other night for my mom, dad, and myself... welllll lets just say that there was only like 1/6 of the pan leftover!!!  You will want to go back for seconds and thirds and you will be completely stuffed!

I call this one grown up mac n cheese because I think of it this way...  Growing up as kids we would eat the incredibly processed, blue box mac n cheese. Where the cheese color was reminiscent of the school buses most kids (not including myself) had to ride to school.  Sometimes, when there was company you may have been treated to a more "grown up version" that was made with real cheese and baked in the oven, topped with bread crumbs.  As we got older we were introduced to fancy kinds of mac n cheese that were white in color and came along with fancy names, "Fettuccine Alfredo" and "Pasta alla Carbonara".  Both are authentic Italian dishes with the main focus being pasta and some kind of cheese. 

This recipe is adapted from a cookbook my grandmother got me for my birthday.

1 TBS olive oil
4 med shallots, minced
12 oz white mushrooms, lightly rinsed, patted dry, and cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/4 cup dry sherry
1 cup frozen baby peas, thawed
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1-lb pasta (I like to use rotini)
3 cups creamy cashew sauce, recipe follows
Optional: 1/2 finely chopped roasted unsalted cashews, 1/4 cup dry unseasoned bread crumbs

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium.  Add in the shallots and cook until soft.  Next add the mushrooms and cook until softened.  Add the sherry and peas cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes.  Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper and set aside.  Preheat oven to 375 F.  Lightly oil a 9x13 baking dish and set aside.

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta according to package instructions.  Drain well, return to the pot, and in the mushroom and pea mixture along with the cashew sauce (recipe follows). Mix gently to combine then transfer to the baking dish.  If using, sprinkle the top with bread crumbs and cashews.

Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.  (if using the bread crumbs/cashews, uncover after 30 min and bake about 10 min more or until lightly browned on top.)  Serve and Enjoy!

Creamy Cashew Sauce
1 cup unsalted raw cashews
2 TBS nutritional yeast
2 cups unsweetened non-dairy milk (soy is used in the recipe book but I love the taste of almond milk in this one)
a few shakes of garlic powder

In a blender, process the cashews to a fine powder.  Add the nutritional yeast and 1 1/2 cups of non dairy milk and blend until smooth. Season with salt and garlic powder.

Transfer the sauce to a medium sauce pan and heat over medium heat.  Stir until the sauce is hot.  Add more of the non dairy milk to thin the sauce out (it will thicken more in the oven). 

*If not using right away, cool the sauce to room temperature, transfer to an air tight container, and refrigerate until needed.  This sauce will keep for 2-3 days.  Just reheat in a sauce pan over low heat until hot.

This one is definitely a crowd please! Take it for potlucks, family dinners, etc!  And don't be ashamed when you want to lick the pan clean!


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