Food column: Vegan mac and cheese | PostIndependent.com

Food column: Vegan mac and cheese

Jordan Callier
Vegan macaroni and cheese the final dish, plated.
Jordan Callier

Vegan Mac & cheese recipe

(About 40-50 minutes)

Serves 5

Produce

1/4 cup carrots

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1/3 cup onion

1/4 cup scallions (for garnish)

1 cup yellow potatoes

1/4 cup parsley (for garnish)

1 lemon

Nuts

1/2 cup raw cashews

Canned Goods

1 can coconut milk (13.5 oz)

Pasta & Grain

10 oz dried “Italian Trottole” macaroni

2 slices of bread (leave out overnight)

Spices

1 pinch cayenne pepper

4 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes

1 pinch of paprika (for browning)

3/4 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon curry

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 cube vegetable bullion (add to water)

Liquid

4 cups water

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 395 degrees. Soak 1/2 cup of cashews at least 30 minutes before you begin cooking.

For best bread crumbs, put out several slices of your favorite bread—the darker, the better—overnight. If you’re like me, and forget to do this, then you can toast slices until they are brown and crispy. After bread is toasted and dry, add to food processor or blender and process until bread crumbs are fine.

Chop all vegetables (excluding garnish) as finely as possible, so they can cook faster and thoroughly.

In a large saucepan, bring four cups of water to a boil. Add one cube of vegetable bullion. When water comes to a boil, add minced vegetables and cashews. Mixture can be cooked for 15 minutes or until potatoes and onions turn more transparent.

When vegetable mixture is cooked, use a slotted spoon to remove vegetables and add to a large mixing bowl. Save the boiled water.

In the mixing bowl, lightly stir together vegetables and spices. Stir in one can of coconut milk, 1 teaspoon of lemon juice and 3/4 cup of vegetable cooking water. Tip: Save the rest of the boiled water for vegetable soup stock.

Add mixture to blender or food processor and process until mix is uniform and creamy. Add extra turmeric for color and salt to taste.

Add mixture to a large saucepan and simmer on medium-to-low heat. Stir occasionally to prevent scorching on bottom and sides.

Cook macaroni al dente in medium saucepan according to package instructions. Add salt to water. When noodles are cooked, then drain them and drizzle with olive oil. Set aside.

Use olive oil or nonstick spray to coat the inside of a dutch oven or roaster. Add noodles and sauce mixture. Blend well with spoon. Add a top layer of bread crumbs, grated lemon peels, sliced scallions, minced parsley and paprika for browning.

Bake in oven heated at 395 degrees for about 15 minutes or until everything is bubbling and bread crumbs are toasty browned.

Source: https://pin.it/2jezd2awg6fmko

(Editor’s note: The Post Independent introduces a new bi-weekly food column and recipe today from local contributor Jordan Callier, to be included as part of our new Saturday Food section. Enjoy!)

Eating vegan is more of a lifestyle than a choice, and it is not just for hipsters. People choose a vegan diet for many reasons. For some, a vegan diet is necessary for personal health or ethical reasons, while others choose to eat vegan for its minimal environmental impact.

I am not a vegan, but in the last several years, I have eaten less animal products for health reasons. I was recently diagnosed with a genetic blood disorder, hemochromatosis, which causes my body to absorb too much iron from food. While many different foods can cause an iron overload, certain animal products are definitely off limits to me. For better health, I have opted to eat a more plant-based diet.

Eating a vegan diet can also have drawbacks. Frankly, some of the vegan food is not as tasty as animal-based food. Vegan cheese? Yuck. Living in a small town, it can also be difficult to find affordable vegan products, while preparation can take a lot longer than processed foods — vegan or not.

Instead of feeling disheartened about the difficulties of a plant-based diet, I often use Pinterest to find culinary inspiration. One such recipe that caught my eye is “Super Creamy Vegan Mac and Cheese.” The original recipe has 92 five-star reviews and takes about 20 minutes to make. If 92 people give it five stars, then there is a good chance it is delicious.

Mac and cheese is one of my favorite comfort foods, so I am thrilled to find an easy to make vegan replacement. I approach this with an open mind, because I fear the coconut milk will make it too sweet. The best way to find out is to make it.

I find all of the ingredients, except one, at our local City Market. The produce is beautiful and fresh, and I really do enjoy the Private Selection brand “Italian Trottole” imported from Italy. The noodles are wonderful al dente, and they also hold up if you accidentally overcook them as I have done many times. The only ingredient I cannot find at City Market is the nutritional yeast flakes. Luckily, Vitamin Cottage carries nutritional yeast flakes, and the yeast flakes really are the secret, since they add that cheesy flavor dimension to the dish.

Once my ingredients are gathered, and staged in an aesthetically pleasing way, I am ready to go. I always improvise ingredients from original recipes to add my own signature, so I also include scallions, vegetable bullion, curry, turmeric and fresh made bread crumbs. My modifications add some extra time but are worth it. See my modified interpretation of “Super Creamy Vegan Mac and Cheese” below.

I have no idea what to expect, but I am blown away with the results. The sauce is creamy and rich. It does not exactly taste like cheese, but it is certainly complex and flavorful. I’m usually a light eater, but I happily help myself to a second bowl. I have enough leftovers to eat for days.

This is a cheap, easy and delicious dish for those who are vegan or just looking to be adventurous. The recipe can be made for about $20 and can feed a family of five. Whatever your reasons, this could be your new healthier, carbon conscious comfort food — as good as grandma’s, if grandma was a hipster vegan!

Jordan Callier is an avid foodie and owns a digital marketing business in Glenwood Springs.