With so much happening I have been craving comfort food like a crazed zombie craves human flesh! (Why yes, Halloween is tomorrow and I feel like the occasional zombie reference is warranted.)
Enter the magical world of Mac-N-Cheese. We all have memories of our parents cooking up this warm, cheesy, comforting, less-than-healthy delight, and we all loved it. Then one day we learned that cheese isn't exactly what we wanted it to be... the "Milk, it does a body good" commercials were replaced with a simpler "got milk" ad campaign, as dairy doesn't really do our body all that much good. Scientist not afraid of the massive dairy bureaucracy stepped up with a lot of startling information about dairy! The more research you do about milk/cheese/dairy the more you learn this isn't something you want in your daily diet at all. This information is often suppressed, and I encourage everyone to do the research and make this decision for yourselves. Knowledge is power. <- Oh wow I went pretty 'cheesy' there! <- Oh crap I made a pun! There isn't any hope for me, I'm doomed. Someone just cue the damn rainbow from NBC's commercials "The More You Know" please.
Whoa, haven't jumped on a health soapbox in a while, that was intense. Tra, la, la I'm still fun and light hearted, la, la, la... Anyway, back to the good stuff. COMFORT FOOD and all the joy it brings me. I love Mac-N-Cheese, and want to share this vegan (can be gluten-free) version. So get ready to curl up with a blanket, a warm bowl of Mac-N-Cheeze, and take a time out from this manic October!
*can be gluten free if you use Quinoa noodles (they are the best GF option out there in pasta town)
1 pack of elbow or shell noodles (look for a box that serves 8 to 10)
8oz crimini mushrooms chopped
1/2 a large yellow onion finely chopped
4-5 cloves of garlic
2 cups firmly packed kale or spinach (or combo)
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 cup cashews
1/4 cup pine nuts
3 cups rice mik
1/2 coconut oil
1/2 nutritional yeast
1/4 cup yellow miso paste (thank you RFD for this idea)
1/2 tablespoon guar gum
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon mustard seed powder
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
First things first, lets get your cheeze going! In a microwave safe bowl (don't judge me, its comfort food, and this speeds up the comfort) put your coconut oil in the microwave and heat just until it is in liquid form. Next pour in the rice milk into the bowl, and whisk the two together. Then place in the microwave for 1-2 minutes until very warm (but not boiling hot). This can also be done on the stove if you hate the microwave like I normally do. Once very warm whisk in the guar gum until it is completely blended into the mixture. Set to the side.
Next, in a food processor, or a very good blender, put your cashews, pine nuts, nutritional yeast, salt, onion powder, and mustard seed powder. Blend together on pulse to mix in the flavors. Then on a slower setting pour in your oil/milk/guar-gum mixture. Once you have slowly poured it all into the blender/processor increase speed. Once it looks all blended together turn the blender/processor off and add in the yellow miso paste. Now blend on high until you have a nice think cheezy blend. Set to the side.
Get your water on the stove, and let it boil. Once boiling throw in your noodle of choice and cook according to the package directions.
While your noodles are cooking place a tablespoon of coconut oil in a large pan. Add in your chopped onion and pressed garlic. Cook for 5 minutes, and then add in your mushrooms (at this time you can also add in jalapeños if you want a little more kick, I'd say 2-3 tablespoons of diced jalapeño is enough). Cook the mushrooms with the onions for another 5 minutes.
At this time your noodles should be about ready. Drain the hot water and return to the pot. Add in the cooked onions, garlic and mushrooms as well as your dark leafy green of choice. Stir all the veggies into the noodles. Then (here comes the fun part) pour your cheeze over everything!! Stir it all up and coat everything with your cheezy goodness.
Once its all combined pout the Mac-N-Cheeze into a large baking pan, and cover with foil. Cook for 30 minutes covered, and then 15 minutes without the cover.
Once its finished cooking in the oven, take it out and let set for 5-10 minutes. Then serve, devour, and sit back. Comfort should kick in shortly.