#101pastas 012: Vegan mac ‘n’ cheese by Magic Castles [v]

Very kindly donated by Jason Edmonds – founder of Minneapolis-based psychedelic folk-rock band, Magic Castles – we are pleased to present the first vegan dish to make it into our #101pastas.

This is a vegan version of the American classic, based around a creamy “cheese” sauce made from blended cashew nuts and nutritional yeast.  For those of you who are not well versed in vegan cooking, nutritional yeast is essentially brewer’s yeast that has been deactivated for use as a food product.  It has a cheesy, nutty, umami-rich flavour and is also rich in B vitamins and so is something of a vegan staple.  In the absence of any “nootch” (as it’s also known) you could try swapping it out for some ground dried mushrooms such as porcini or miso paste.  Start off adding small amounts to the cashew paste and then increase until you find the taste that hits the spot for you.  

The sauce recipe below makes enough for the mac ‘n’ cheese with some left over to use again.  It will keep for 5 or 6 days in an airtight container in the fridge and can also be frozen.

The mac ‘n’ cheese can benefit from the addition of some vegan hard cheese but we’re not sure how easy they are to get hold of in the current climate so we’re not including it here.   PETA have produced an excellent list of vegan cheeses, for future reference.

For the cashew “cheese” sauce:
Cashew nuts 300g raw
Nutritional yeast 6tbsp
Lemon ½ juice and zest
Garlic powder ½ teaspoon
Olive oil a splash
Water mineral or filtered is best
Salt & pepper

Soak the nuts overnight, ideally or for at least 2 hours as an absolute minimum.  Drain and discard the water.

Place in blender with all other ingredients except the water and blend thoroughly.  Once a thick paste, continue to blend adding a little water at a time until you reach the desired consistency.  This should be something like a wet houmous.

For the mac ‘n’ cheese:
Serves 2
Macaroni 200g dried vegan
Cashew cheese sauce (above)
English mustard ½ teaspoon
Oat milk or other vegan milk, a few splashes (if required)
Sourdough or other crusty bread 1 piece
Fresh thyme a pinch or two; other soft or dried herbs will also work

Place a large pan of water on to boil and cook your mac to just before al dente.

In an oven-proof dish stir in the mac with enough “cheese” to coat, thinning a little with the milk if necessary until you have the consistency of a cheese sauce.  Stir in the mustard, season and give it a light grating of whole nutmeg.

Throw the bread and herbs in a blender with a tiny splash of olive oil and blitz to crumbs.  Sprinkle over the mac ‘n’ cheese and place in a hot oven until the breadcrumbs are golden brown.

Goes really well served with oven-roasted peppers and onions on the side.

Thanks, Jason.

Magic Castles are releasing their fifth studio album, Sun Reign, later this year on Anton Newcombe’s “A” Recordings. They are currently scheduled to tour the new album across the UK and Europe this summer but like so many other musicians and performing artists, that is now far from a certainty.

Check out their records here and here.

The Best Vegan Mac and Cheese (Classic, Baked) - Loving It Vegan