Vegan Mac ‘n’ Cheese

Bowl of Vegan Mac 'n' CheeseI’ve been experimenting with nutritional yeast lately, and found this recipe from Deli Devi.

Cook 12 ounces of macaroni.

Steam:
2 C chopped carrots
1 C cauliflower florets
1 C potato cubes

Add to a blender with:
3 C of plant based milk (I used oat)
1 T olive oil
1 T maple syrup
1 T balsamic vinegar
1/2 C of nutritional yeast
1 t onion powder
1 t garlic powder
1 t smoked paprika
1/2 t ground turmeric
Salt and pepper to taste

Maybe add a little bit of the pasta water to the blender if you’d like.

Once the mixture is blended smooth, heat it in a sauce pan on medium for five minutes or so until it thickens, and then combine well with the cooked, drained pasta.

I added a little hot sauce and soy sauce for flavor and umami.

This turned out super tasty, ooey gooey, and is a lot healthier and more nutritious than a Kraft box.

Plant-Based Albondigas Sandwiches

Beyond Beef Albondigas SandwichesI love to cook outdoors. Before I quit eating meat, I was obsessed with learning to prepare new recipes on the Weber Kettle and Genesis grills.

I still get emails from Weber, and my first reaction when I received the one with this recipe for Grilled Albondigas with Charred Salsa was “this looks really interesting, too bad it has meat.” I sometimes still forget that there are decent plant-based ground beef alternatives available nowadays.

Meier’s happened to have Beyond Beef on sale for a little over $5 a pound, so we picked up two pounds and adapted the recipe. The meatballs turned out really well. I used a little olive oil in place of the egg. I did use sour cream for the crema, since we haven’t left off dairy yet, but I imagine that you could easily substitute a little nut or oat milk for that.

For the salsa, I used two cans of fire roasted diced tomatoes and seven or eight slices of pickled Jalapeños along with the onion and garlic in the recipe. It turned out great as well.

I’ll have to work on the queso. I followed the recipe pretty much as is, and it came out thick and globby. I really would like to find decent alternatives to dairy cheese, but haven’t experimented enough with the products available to find things that we like yet.

The family, including the carnivores, seemed to like this recipe a lot. Along with a nice green salad, it fed four of us for Sunday Dinner, and there were leftovers enough for one evening meal for Kid this week, and snacks as well.

If I make this again, I’ll probably try it with Impossible Burger, as I like the texture of that product a bit better. Otherwise, the recipe is “a keeper” and something that the entire family can enjoy together, regardless of whether they are meat-eaters or not.

First Run at Tofu Scramble

I had picked up some tofu to try it out when I made Pho awhile back, mostly out of curiosity. I don’t miss the protein portion on my plate when it’s absent from a meal, and I get plenty of protein in my diet from the grains and legumes that I eat (and I also still consume dairy from time to time).

But shortly after that, Claudia ran across tofu at Aldi’s and picked up a block for me, figuring that I’d find some use for it. I searched for something along the lines of “best way to prepare tofu” and got several returns for scrambles. It seemed like a fairly simple, almost elegant way to use the product, so I narrowed down the search and came up with three iterations that informed this meal.

I grabbed a potato masher and was ready to go, except for one odd thing that was not in our pantry. More than one article listed a spice called Kala Namak as an essential ingredient to get an “eggy” flavor. At $4 for 3 1/2 ounces, I figured it was worth picking some up to try and have on hand. It is a pinkish salt from the Himalayas, but despite its hue it is generally referred to as “black salt.” It has a slightly sulfurous aroma, as one might expect.

I used the spices and proportions from this recipe at Loving It Vegan. We didn’t have soy milk so I substituted almond. I also started with a sauté of Portobello Mushrooms and spinach in the pan before adding the tofu, and used olive oil instead of vegan butter.

Here’s the sauce, the way I made it.

2 Tbsp Nutritional Yeast
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1/2 tsp Paprika
1 tsp Dijon Mustard
1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
1/4 tsp Black Salt (Kala Namak)
1/4 tsp Onion Powder
1/3 cup Almond Milk

I whisked that together in a measuring cup while the mashed tofu and veggies were heating. Once I added it to the pan and tasted, it still seemed just a bit bland to me, so I added another 1/4 tsp of the Kala Namak, some fresh ground black pepper and a little bit of my favorite barbecue spice mix.

This turned out to be a decent meal. It’s not something that I would go out of my way for, but if someone served it to me and I didn’t know better, I would think it was eggs. The main difference is that in our household scrambled eggs get loaded with cheese, and although the nutritional yeast adds some cheesy flavor, the gooey texture isn’t there. I suppose we could use some vegan cheese if we wanted, but it’s not something we keep on hand.

The nice thing about preparing a meal like this is knowing that if someone I love had a dietary restriction that precluded eggs, whether for ethical or health reasons (albumen allergy or cholesterol limits, etc.) I could still turn out a satisfying, flavorful, traditional breakfast dish for them. This makes me happy.