Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Mac and Peas (vegan)

I'd been thinking about making my own mac and cheese ever since I discovered this vegan version, which sounds a little crazy, I know, but vegans have made this old-time comfort food even better. Check out the Vegan Stoner with this version with canned peas (not my favorite) or this version with coconut milk. Both versions of mac and cheese added nutritional yeast. So I was toying with what else to use, when I met a woman in this thrift shop near the blenders. She said she uses a small blender to make a vegan mac and cheese sauce with cauliflower and cashew butter.

"Cauliflower and cashew butter?"

"I know," she said, "It sounds crazy but it works. It tastes exactly like Parmesan cheese." 

I spotted cashew butter at a Grocery Outlet not more than 15 minutes later, so I got some cauliflower  and tired making the sauce.  One problem was she hadn't given me any proporitons, so it was a bit of a guessing game.  


This mixture even smells like Parmesan cheese. How crazy is that? 

I wrote the recipe ahead of time, adding nutritional yeast and a bit of turmeric, a bit of lemon, garlic powder and sea salt. But when I tasted it before adding these other ingredients, I was shocked.  I kept wanting to taste it again and again.

For me, mac and cheese is a starter. It's one of those food canvas as where you add the colors and flavors. I thought it would be easy to find macaroni, and truthfully I only went to one store, but all the designer gluten-free pastas have taken the shelf space and good old macaroni got squeezed out.  Since I was making it yesterday, I could have gone to more stores, but I finally settled for shell noodles instead.

I've added so many different vegetables, herbs and sauces over the years, it's funny that I hadn't peas until recently.  

Zucchini is my standard with mac and cheese these days. So obviously that ingredient came before peas, but if you don't like it, add mushrooms, peppers or whatever non-starchy vegetable that you love.

Use fresh or frozen peas.  I choose frozen because fresh peas aren't quite at the market yet in Seattle.

Who doesn't love opening fresh peas?  I remember my grandmother shelling them and always sharing a few with me.

You can find cauliflower at the market now, but it's pricey because the season hasn't quite started.

So many possibilities for mac and cheese, and so little time.

Too many peas?  Blanch them in a big pot of boiling water for 30 seconds, drain, dry and freeze.

One of my "secret" flavorings is apple-smoked sea salt from Rockridge Orchards.  I didn't add my favorite Mama Lil's Peppers, but you could add those too, if you have them.

Mac and Peas
(Serves 4)
2 tablespoons cashew butter
1 1/2  cup cooked cauliflower (reserve water and add to thin sauce)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast
Pinch of turmeric
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, white pepper and smoked sea salt
1 Tablespoon oil
1 cup diced onions or shallots
1 cup diced red pepper
2 cups sliced zucchini
8 ounces macaroni or shell pasta
1 cup fresh garden peas or frozen peas
1. Combine cashew butter, cooked cauliflower, lemon, nutritional yeast and turmeric in a food processor or mixer and blend until creamy, add more liquid to make the mixture smooth.  Set aside. 
2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Add macaroni and cook according to package directions. While pasta cooks, heat a skillet over medium heat and add onions, red peppers and zucchinis.  Stir and cook until onions and zucchini are caramelized and the peppers are tender.  If using fresh peas, add and cook for a few minutes, or until tender.
3. When macaroni is done, drain and blend with the sauce and vegetables and serve.

I forgot to mention the asparagus. It's not exactly part of this recipe, but I love asparagus even more than peas, so of course I get some at the market every week.  It looks beautiful on top of my Mac and Peas. All the flavors made me wish dinner would never end.

1 comment:

Miz Helen said...

Hi Debra,
I would love your Mac and Peas this dish looks delicious. Hope you are having a great week and thanks so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday.
Come Back Soon!
Miz Helen