Five years ago I blogged my first recipe: Rachael's Famous Vegan Mac 'n' Cheese. Five Years - can you believe it? I'm still vegan, still blogging, and celebrating with a revamped version of my very first recipe.
Macaroni and Cheese is everybody's favorite, and a bona fide classic - we've all seen commercials claiming the Blue Box is The Cheesiest. When I was a vegetarian, I ate a lot of Annie's, especially in college and grad school. It was a quick, easy meal and I was partial to the bunny-shaped noodles.
My quest for the perfect mac 'n' cheese is still ongoing. I have tried a lot of different kinds of ways and a lot of different kinds of purées - cashews, cauliflower, chickpeas - but I still find that it takes a vegan cheese to achieve the cheesiness I crave. Some of the best macaroni I ever made, I used a homemade cream cheese from Miyoko Schinner's excellent book, but the packaged kind is a lot easier to come by. Vegan cheeses continue to increase and multiply, but today I'm going for some good old Daiya. (For those with allergies, I checked - Daiya is free of soy and gluten.)
Let's get cheesy!
1 box of Ancient Harvest Quinoa pasta (I like the mini-shells) or noodle of your choice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon mustard powder
1/8 teaspoon turmeric
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup Daiya mozzarella shreds
1 cup soy or almond milk
1/2 cup nutritional yeast flakes
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 or 3 handfuls baby arugula
1/4 cup chopped or slivered almonds
Start some water boiling in a pasta pot -don't forget to add a dash of salt. A little salt helps the water hold its temperature, so that when you throw your noodles in it will stay at a boil. Prepare your favorite noodles according to the instructions on the package. I like quinoa noodles because they are gluten-free and hold their shape and texture much better than rice noodles do.
In a saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-low flame. Add the garlic and let it sizzle. Add the mustard powder, turmeric and nutmeg and stir them all around. Next add the soy milk, nutritional yeast and Daiya shreds and stir, stir, stir. You should soon have a nice gooey sauce at the end of your spoon. Taste and add salt. Reduce heat to low.
When your noodles are al dente and squeaky-chewy, drain them and dump them into a serving bowl. Pour the sauce over the noodles and stir - hear that squishy noodle noise? That means it's mac 'n' cheese time.
For a grown-up version, toss in a few handfuls of baby spinach or arugula and stir them around to wilt. I like arugula because it has a nice peppery flavor.
Scoop that squishy goodness into bowls and garnish with chopped almonds. Other gourmet flavor enhancers might include fresh cracked pepper or a drizzle of truffle oil.
Mmmmmmmmmmm, macaroni. The pinnacle of comfort foods. Enjoy!