Thursday, September 25, 2014

VeganMoFo Day 25 - Cheezy Baked Macaroni

Ah, mac and cheeze! Is there anything better on Earth? This one is one of the favorites of the McDougall family and appeared in the March 2007 newsletter:

Cheezy Baked Macaroni

I have had many requests for a macaroni & cheese substitute, mainly from people with children.  This recipe was developed with the children in mind, but Heather and I really like it, too.

Preparation Time:  15 minutes
Cooking Time:  30 minutes
Servings:  6-8

12 ounces uncooked macaroni
1 ¼ cups raw cashews
1 ¼ cups water
¼  cup nutritional yeast
2 ½  tablespoons chopped pimientos
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons white miso
1 teaspoon onion powder
¼  teaspoon salt
¼ to 1/3 cup whole wheat bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place a large pot of water on to boil.  Drop in the pasta and cook until just tender, about 6 minutes, depending on the kind of pasta used.  Drain and set aside in a large bowl.

Meanwhile, place the cashews in a food processor with half of the water.  Process until fairly smooth, then add the remaining ingredients, except the bread crumbs, and process for several minutes until mixture is VERY smooth.   Pour the mixture over the pasta and stir to combine.  Transfer to a covered casserole dish, sprinkle the bread crumbs over the top, cover and bake for 30 minutes.

Hints:  Use any of your family’s favorite tubular pasta in this recipe.  The initial cooking time may have to be adjusted slightly depending on which type of pasta you choose.  Cook until just tender, do not overcook because the pasta will cook again while baking.

This may be prepared ahead of time and refrigerated until ready to bake.  Add about 10 minutes to the baking time.

First off, let me say I did not follow the recipe as-written. I had in the far past, but certainly not since my husband's CABG surgery. There was no way I was going to use that many cashews! According to Dr. Esselstyn, he should't be having any nuts at all, but I used about an ounce of soaked cashews to give it a little bit of creaminess. For the 1 1/4 cups of nuts I substituted a can of rinsed and drained cannelini beans. Our coronary arteries thanked us for that change.

I also skipped the miso. I did find some that was lower sodium, but it was still pretty high, and when we taste tested it, neither of us really liked it, so I continue to skip it when a recipe calls for it and use some lower sodium soy sauce or coconut aminos, instead.

And whenever I make mac and cheese I always add some vegetables to the mix, and this time it was a bag of frozen crinkle cut carrots and a bag of petite peas. I do microwave them a bit first, otherwise the carrots are so hard they hurt my gums, and I'm already nursing a swollen one from some hard broccoli I ate last week.

Lastly, in keeping with the "kid's meal" theme of this recipe, instead of elbows I used Tinkyada's Little Dreams shape for kids, with bunnies, teddy bears, bikes and airplanes. What can I say? I'm still a kid at heart! 

That's such a pretty dish! Tasty and filling, too. We would have preferred it a bit moister, because cooked whole grain pasta soaks up a lot more liquid than semolina pasta does, but it was good enough. I usually use the whole 4 ounce jar of pimientos but this recipe called for only 1 ounce - hardly worth it. 

If you're looking for a recipe for children, as Mary and her daughter Heather were, this is a perfect recipe for them, because kids do require more fat than over-the-hill adults with cardiac disease or obesity do. But I'll be going back to my Mac and Oaty Cheese recipe next time my husband looks for mac and cheese for dinner.

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