As the week goes on, I’m moving away from my salad theme but in keeping with our love for salsa, I have decided to feature another recipe that is in our family’s favourites vault only because of salsa!! Back when the plant-based adventure was new for us, I tried to find vegan recipes that were makeovers of traditional North American comfort foods. I have found many great meat and egg substitutes, and even deliciously creamy and satisfying vegan ice creams but dairy cheese is very hard to replicate. It took some time before I started to enjoy the flavor of Daiya cheese and even now I need to use it sparingly. I generally find nut-based cheeses and creams to be more palatable as well as being more whole-foods. Perhaps it is just me, but when cheese is the star of the show in a recipe, I find vegan versions need to be altered in terms of ingredients and expectations. Traditional Mac ‘n Cheese is no exception. I found a recipe a couple of years ago on Rip Esselstyn’s website Engine 2 Diet for Macaroni and Not Cheese. My handwritten comments after the first attempt were: “Good. Doesn’t taste like mac & cheese tho.” A later comment states: “Really good tossed with salsa!” followed by a smiley face. And so with the addition of our beloved salsa, a recipe was rescued from blah to yeah and now makes a regular appearance on our family’s supper table. It is even requested by my five year old who must not be related to us because he does not like salsa and so classically mixes his bowl with ketchup (we’re praying his taste buds mature – hahaha). I have added my edits to this version – I find it tastier if I make the quantities of nutritional yeast, garlic and onion powders heaping. I cannot find the actual recipe on Engine 2’s website now so I have copied it out here but the credit goes to them for a quick and easy weekday pasta dish – just don’t forget the salsa!
Macaroni and Not Cheese with Salsa
Serves three to four
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 cup cashews
- 1/3 cups water
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 4oz jar roasted red peppers, drained
- 3 heaping tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1 heaping tsp garlic powder
- 1 heaping tsp onion powder
- 16oz whole grain elbow pasta, cooked
- 1 cup salsa, divided
Preheat oven to 425 F. Sauté the onion on medium heat in a nonstick skillet for 5 minutes, until translucent. In a food processor, combine the onion, cashews, lemon juice, water, and salt. Gradually blend in the roasted red peppers, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, and onion powder. Thoroughly toss the sauce with the pasta. Bake in the oven, uncovered, for 20 minutes until golden brown on top. Portion into four serving bowls or plates and mix with a quarter cup each of the salsa. Serve warm.
- Macaroni & “Cheese” – #ScrumptiousSunday (theveganbearblog.wordpress.com)