Okay, cards on the table here, i had other posts planned for today, this recipe wasn’t going to be up til next week…..BUT i’m so excited to share it i just can’t wait!!
I’m not gonna lie, i’ve never had a vegan version of mac and cheese that didn’t make me say “omgimeatingnoochgravy!”
(btw, nooch is a common pet name for nutritional yeast)
I’m not gonna lie, despite my using it a LOT, i don’t like the flavor of nooch on it’s own or in large quantities, it makes me think of feet…..or worse. Anyway, i admit it can be used wisely in smaller amounts to lend yummy cheesy funk to things, and adds an almost buttery umami quality. But, a noochy bechamel sauce does not a mac and cheese make. Seriously. Then there are the other odd permutations using squash, or carrots, or cauliflower…..I’m sure they’re perfectly nom, but i can’t imagine them being even remotely cheese-like. I’m rambling! Okay, so this mac and cheese (not cheese) hits all the marks for me, it’s creamy, it’s rich, it’s decadent, it’s cheesy, it’s complex, it doesn’t taste like thick liquid nooch….it’s even “stringy” like real cheese sauce…..
450g | 1 lb pasta of choice (wheat or gluten free, i'd recommend something tubular in shape or with lots of nooks and crannies)
40g | 1/4 cup red bell pepper, finely chopped
35g | 1/4 cup shallots, finely chopped
4g | 3/4 tsp garlic, minced
4.3g | 3/4 tsp fine salt
9g/10ml | 2 tsp refined coconut oil
75g | 1/2 cup raw cashews
3g | 1 tsp fauxltry broth powder
15g | 3 Tbsp + 2 tsp nutritional yeast
3.5g | 1/2 tsp prepared yellow mustard
20g | 4 tsp shiro (white) miso
.5g | 1/8 tsp sweet smoked paprika
.3g | 1/16 tsp chipotle powder
240g/ml | 1 cup water
4g | 1/2 tsp lactic acid powder
5g | 1 Tbsp kappa carageenan
15g | 2 Tbsp tapioca starch
freshly ground pepper to taste (i use about an 1/4 of a tsp, i like it peppery)
hot water (about a cup worth)
Set a large pot of water to boil over high heat for the pasta, once it starts to boil, add about a tablespoon of salt
Saute peppers, shallots, and garlic with salt in oil over medium-high heat until well cooked and browned at the edges (about 3 minutes)
Add everything but water, lactic, and kappa, and tapioca, cook for about 30 seconds (until the bottom just starts to stick and brown)
Add the 1 cup water. cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes
Add pasta to the water to cook for time specified on box for the pasta you're using
Blend sauce ingredients until totally smooth and creamy, then add enough hot water to bring the total volume to 2 cups
Blend again for about 20-30 seconds on high, and then, while blending still, drop in the lactic, then the tapioca, then the kappa, blend for about 30 seconds or so on high until smooth and starting to thicken
Remove from blender immediately and pour back into pan!! If you take too long it can solidify in the blender
Heat sauce over medium heat while stirring with a whisk or silicone stirrer, when the mixture is gooey and shiny and looks like cheese sauce, you're done
Add some pepper to taste and turn the heat to low to keep warm if the pasta isn't done yet
When the pasta is done, drain and return to pan, add in cheese sauce, stir
Add more hot water if it's too thick, and DONE
feel free to add things to this! try roasted chiles, broccoli, spinach, tomato, asparagus, mushrooms.....whatever you heart desires. simply cook how you'd like before and toss it in with the cheese sauce. make it your own!
You know what you don’t see here? anything that has gluten in it, except for the pasta….MEANING you can make this totally gluten free with some GF pasta. Seriously. No fancy tinkering or subs, just use GF pasta. That’s it. You know what else is crazy? This has way less fat that any traditional mac and cheese i could find, including the recipe i usually use around here (alton brown’s stovetop mac and cheese)…this recipe has 87% less fat than that and tastes almost friggin identical! 87% less fat. 1/3 less fat than the blue box, and 57% less than the fancy blue box. Also, it has half the fat of some of the popular vegan macs i found info for out there. IT’S INSANE! you can eat twice as much for the same fat! [that’s how you should look at this]
Okay, let’s do that thing where i tell you why you’re using the stuff here you’re using. Some of it’s just traditional mac and cheese ingredients, mustard, paprika, garlic, shallots, salt….you get those. The nooch is for cheesy funk, the fauxltry broth powder brings in subtle herb notes to round things out, the miso provides a lovely tang, fermented flavor and umami, red bell pepper for color and sweetness, cashews for creaminess…
Two things in here you might not have right at hand, but you should, you’ll see me use the A LOT. Lactic acid powder (vegan of course, derived from sugar beet fermentation) and kappa-carageenan (a thickening/emulsifying agent derived from seaweed, sorta like agar, but with very different properties.) I’m not going to go into great detail on these since i plan on doing posts dedicated to them at some point, for now i’ll say they can not be subbed for anything else. Lactic acid has a soft acidity that you find in yogurt, sauerkraut, and other lactofermented foods (including cheeses), you could try and sub a little lemon or something….but just snag some lactic acid now, you’ll need it for future recipes.
Kappa-Carageenan, oh boy, i just KNOW people are gonna wig out over this one. If you don’t like it, don’t use it, you will still get a lovely sauce (i’m sure) but it won’t stretch and have the lovely gooey cheese texture that makes this recipe friggin amazing and it won’t reheat as nicely. [don’t be a party pooper and just use it] I will talk about this more in depth in a later post.
Both of these can be purchased easily online, modernist pantry (kappa) and druid’s grove (lactic) are the brands i have and they work well. I’m sure there are plenty of others, but tbh, i don’t use large quantities and these are the only ones i’ve used.
This recipe is surprisingly fast and easy, like stupid easy. It’s crazy! The only tricky bit i want to warn you about now, make sure you use HOT water when adding the water to the blender, blend in the kappa and tapioca starch until thoroughly mixed and then hurry and get it out of the blender!!! Seriously! Otherwise it’s gonna seize up and is gonna be no fun to get out. Don’t stare and marvel at it, don’t taste it, don’t walk away because the dog’s barking….get it out.
This picture up above here is directly after pouring it from the blender…..see how it didn’t even make it to the sides of the pan? it’s basically a soft solid already. The magic starts to happen when you get it back on the heat, it will turn liquidy, might get a little grainy, and then it transforms into a gooey yummy glossy cheesy sauce. Just keep slowly whisking until it gets to the point where it looks exactly like nacho cheese sauce. It should be thick, creamy, shiny, and leave trails when you stir through it.
To make things go quickest, i suggest starting your pasta water before starting to sautee the peppers/shallots….this sauce will take less time than it takes to boil water and cook the pasta. Seriously. No joke. It’s that quick and easy. So i’d do things in this order: set water to boil, cook peppers/shallots/garlic, simmer ingredients, drop pasta in water (assuming it’s boiling then), blend sauce, cook sauce, drain pasta, stir it all together, EAT!
I’m so embarrassed by this photo…..but, i tried and tried and TRIED to get a good action shot to show you how this sauce looks and acts and tastes and feels like cheese…..it’s not easy to do, and this stuff cools QUICK. such a pain. Hopefully you get the idea and don’t judge me too harsh, i’ll get some better shots next time i make it and replace this and hopefully regain your respect and undying admiration.
Now, go click click buy some kappa and lactic so you can get started making this ASAP. It will change your life. [do it do it now why haven’t you done it already?! do it]