All I want is … mac and cheese
~ Kurt Cobain
I love cheese. There, I’ve written it out loud. I’m a cheese whore who struggles to let go of this savage and luscious addiction, to this gift of the cruel gods. I’ve had a love-hate thing going on with cheese my entire life, but the bottom line is that it just isn’t good for me. My body tells me so in many unpleasant ways. I’ve tried only eating super duper organic stuff from happy cows outside, raw, cave aged, from especially magical goats… none of it really works.
When I’m eating clean (for me), it doesn’t involve dairy cheese [heavy sigh]. Consequently, over the years, I’ve developed some great vegan cheese and dairy alternative recipes that satisfy me and those I cook for quite well. I’ve not had as much luck with store-bought cheese alternatives, but I keep trying.
Mac and cheese is like the comfort food of the gods. Seems juvenile, but 50-something years into this incarnation, and it still calls to me. My husband makes the best to-die-for mac and cheese that involves 3 different types of cheese, a large onion, some tomato soup and a pound of freaking bacon. Yea, not what this gluten-free, vegetarian (mostly vegan) should be eating. And now for a bit of macaroni and cheese history…
I was sitting here wondering who started this macaroni and cheese thing and was shocked to see that there are references and recipes dating back to 14th century Italy and England. One early recipe shows up in the “dishes for the rich” chapter of the medieval Italian cookbook in the 14th century, Liber de Coquina.
If it seems to be a particularly American infatuation, we can thank Thomas Jefferson. He became obsessed with pasta and macaroni back in the late 18th century and after an unsuccessful attempt to build a pasta-making machine, he decided it was best to just import the pasta and the cheese from Italy. He turned on his American friends to an early version of mac and cheese at a state dinner, and it has been a popular dish in the US since that time.
I’ve had a few mediocre attempts to create a vegan macaroni and cheese alternative, but hubby’s recipe always gloats above them all. Until last night. Oh boy. I think I might’ve stumbled upon the magic formula.
It all started with the Instant Pot I got for Christmas. I had been hearing so much about these things and figured it was time to add it to the GD kitchen arsenal.
I LOVED my first two recipes in the Instant Pot. One was a delicious quinoa thing and the next was this creamy plant-based smokey gouda sauce. This cheese hound just couldn’t resist it. This is where my idea for the vegan macaroni and cheese began. I woke up in the middle of the night thinking about how good this stuff might be on macaroni and decided I would try it. Here’s exactly what I did…
Best vegan macaroni and cheese recipe!
If you don’t have an Intant Pot, I’m sorry. I highly recommend getting your hands on one.
What you need…
1 cup plant-based smokey gouda sauce (if you don’t have an Instant Pot, I’m reasonably sure you can convert this to a stove top method, but not really sure how that works.)
8oz. good gluten-free elbows (I used Ancient Harvest)
1 – 2 tablespoons of good olive oil
NOTE: veggies are of course optional and you can switch it up to whatever veggies you enjoy most in this kind of thing. maybe carrots or peppers or kale or whatever. I used what I had handy and what seemed like it might be yummy.
half a red onion (thinly sliced and chopped)
8 – 10 mushrooms (sliced)
2 cloves fresh garlic (crushed)
1/4 cup sliced sun-dried peppers (these are hard to come by, but we’ve stumbled upon them at an italian deli and also at Wegmans. If you don’t have any, you don’t really need them, but if you find them, they are excellent in this dish)
a cup or two of raw spinach
salt, pepper seasoning to taste
What to do…
Prepare the smokey gouda goodness as per the Instant Pot recipe.
Cook the pasta.
Saute the onions and mushrooms in olive oil. When onions are translucent and mushrooms are cooked, add the sun-dried peppers and garlic and saute for another minute.
Add salt, pepper, seasoning to taste.
Lower the heat and add the spinach and then turn off the heat after a minute.
Add drained pasta to large sauce pan, add the smokey gouda goodness, the sauteed mixture and heat on low till mixed and heated through.
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