Southern-Inspired

I wanted something a bit comforting and filling for a nice Sunday meal after a day of chores.  Few things are more comfort-foody to me than a big Southern-inspired plate with some mac and cheese casserole, garlicky greens, rolls and watermelon.  Now, I really liked mac and cheese before I went vegan, but I love it now.  Honestly, the vegan versions are so much better than the dairy-based ones, in my opinion.  My favourite of all the ones I’ve tried is the recipe below.  The kale was given the usual treatment – deveined (removing the thick central stem) and cut into smallish pieces.  A few cloves (3-4) of garlic thinly sliced and sautéed in a bit of oil, then add the greens and sautée until cooked down and bright green.  Add salt to taste.

Mac and Cheese 
from Veg News

4 quarts water
1 tablespoon sea salt
8 ounces macaroni
4 slices of bread, torn into large pieces
2 tablespoons + 1/3 cup non-hydrogenated margarine
2 tablespoons shallots, peeled and chopped
1 cup red or yellow potatoes, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup carrots, peeled and chopped
1/3 cup onion, peeled and chopped
1 cup water
1/4 cup raw cashews
2 teaspoons sea salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon paprika

  1. In a large pot, bring the water and salt to a boil. Add macaroni and cook until al dente. In a colander, drain pasta and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
  2. In a food processor, make breadcrumbs by pulverizing the bread and 2 tablespoons margarine to a medium-fine texture. Set aside.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a saucepan, add shallots, potatoes, carrots, onion, and water, and bring to a boil. Cover the pan and simmer for 15 minutes, or until vegetables are very soft.
  4. In a blender, process the cashews, salt, garlic, 1/3 cup margarine, mustard, lemon juice, black pepper, and cayenne. Add softened vegetables and cooking water to the blender and process until perfectly smooth.
  5. In a large bowl, toss the cooked pasta and blended cheese sauce until completely coated. Spread mixture into a 9 x 12 casserole dish, sprinkle with prepared breadcrumbs, and dust with paprika. Bake for 30 minutes or until the cheese sauce is bubbling and the top has turned golden brown.
Note:  I almost never add the shallots, and it doesn’t make a difference.  Use them if you have them, but otherwise just leave it out.
– Crystal

Veg News Mac and Cheese

It’s been a very stressful week around our house, and I came home from work tonight wanting nothing more than some good comfort food.  To me, nothing is more comforting than mac and cheese!  Being vegan doesn’t mean you have to go without.  There are quite a few good vegan mac and cheese recipes out there, but the Veg News Mac and Cheese in the best one we’ve tried.  The cashews in the sauce give it a gorgeous texture that is very rich and filling.  It’s yummy enough for anyone to scarf down…no vegan membership card required.

We decided to pair this with roasted balsamic asparagus with capers.  This is sooooo good.  I made it once when I was home alone and accidentally ate the whole batch!

Trevor’s Balsamic Asparagus with Capers
1 bunch of asparagus
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp (or more) capers, drained
2 tsp caper brine
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400°F.  Trim and wash asparagus.  The easiest way to trim asparagus is by holding both ends and snapping it – it will naturally break where it needs to, so you get rid of the fibrous end.  Lay stalks flat on a baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic and with sprinkle capers and caper brine; toss gently to coat.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Bake for 12 minutes, flipping halfway (or more if you like it more crispy – and we do!).  Dish up and don’t forget to scoop some of those crispy yummy capers onto your plate!

– Crystal