This is another plant-based dish I've been sceptical about, for Mac'n'Cheese is the ultimate comfort food I usually enjoy with lashing of cheese. So I thought I'd give a plant-based version a go, seeing as it's Veganuary month.
This recipe is made with some lovely ingredients including cashew nuts, nutritional yeast, dijon mustard, leeks and cayenne pepper (don't worry, it's just a pinch!). I would really recommend using the bread crumbs because it makes the topping nice and crispy, which I would miss when not using dairy cheese.
Even if you end up adding cheese, the cashews make a lovely tasting, creamy base for your sauce. Cashew nuts are also a great source of protein and packed full of health-promoting micro-nutrients
300 dry macaroni pasta
1 leek, thinly
1tsp coconut oil
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
140g cashews, soaked for 4-6 hours or overnight
1 cup of water
1/2 tsp of Dijon
2 tbsp Nutritional Yeast, plus extra for the topping
1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper
1/4 cup aqua Faba
1tsp of Cornflour
Sea Salt, to taste
15g of Breadcrumbs (optional)
Earlier in the day or the night before, add 140g of cashew nuts to one cup of cold water.
Pre-heat your grill, if using breadcrumbs, and start cooking the pasta according to packet instructions.
Fry the leeks in the oil with a pinch of salt for 5 minutes on a medium heat until soft but not brown. Add the garlic and continue cooking for a minute or two, being careful not to burn the garlic. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Now put the leeks and garlic in a blender (I use a Nutri-bullet) along with the rest of the ingredients, apart from the salt, breadcrumbs and extra nutritional yeast.
When the pasta is ready - it should be al dente (so it's neither hard nor soft but is firm and slightly chewy) - drain the water and return to the pan. Pour the cashew sauce onto the pasta pan immediately and toss/mix together. The heat from the hot pasta should heat the sauce up quickly.
Now for a the essential taste test. I find you do need a fair bit of salt, though not too much, to bring out all the flavours.
Spoon the macaroni into 4 ramekins or a baking dish measuring approximately 15cm by 15cm. Mix together a tbsp of nutritional yeast with the breadcrumbs (either shop bought or 2 day old bread blended up) and sprinkle over the top of the Mac n Cheese.
Grill for 5 minutes, or until browned. Be careful not to burn the top! Serve with a generous helping of your favourite seasonal greens.