As my cooking skills evolve, I not only have been coming up with new recipes but I’ve been revising old ones. Since I only became gluten-free about a year and a half ago, some of my older recipes need gluten-free versions. And as I have pretty much eliminated processed foods from my diet, some of my older recipes need to be done in a more whole-foods way. It’s a lot of work but I actually love seeing how my eating habits and culinary abilities have evolved over time.
My Tommy has been very sad since his father passed away on the 20th and I wanted to make him something special for dinner that might bring him a bit of comfort. He loves mac n’cheese so I thought I’d surprise him and whip him up some creamy goodness. It also would mean an opportunity to revise my old mac n’cheese recipe.
So I went to the old recipe for Baked Macaroni and Cheese that I posted in 2010 and when I read the story, I smiled. Seems Tom had been ill and I was planning to surprise him with a cruelty-free version of one of his favorite foods that he hadn’t had since we became vegan. I thought it was funny that almost 2 years later, I was once again planning a special surprise meal with which to cheer Tom up and it was the exact same meal!!
Well, not totally exact. The old recipe, while yummy and delicious, was not gluten-free and it used Daiya cheese shreds. This new recipe uses a cashew-based cheese sauce. The old recipe was made to satisfy Tom’s purist stance on mac n’cheese; this time I added some pumpkin to the cheese sauce. The pumpkin eliminates the need for a roux, adds a slight sweet taste and ups the nutritional value of the meal.
While the recipe is a bit different, the thought behind the meal remains the same. The best part of cooking is being able to put my time and love into creating something that will make my Tommy happy. Recipes change, my love for my husband never will. Enjoy!
1 lb. gluten-free pasta
1 cup raw cashews
1 cup hot water
Juice of one lemon
2 Tbs. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. gluten-free, vegan Worcestershire sauce
½ tsp. paprika
½ tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. onion powder
½ tsp. dried mustard
½ tsp. Kosher salt
¼ tsp. ground black pepper
A pinch of nutmeg
2 Tbs. vegan butter
7 oz. pumpkin puree (1/2 can)
2 cups unsweetened almond milk
Cooking spray or a bit of oil
1/3 cup gluten-free bread crumbs
1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbs. fresh parsley, finely chopped
In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain and return to the pot. Set aside.
In a food processor, combine the cashews and hot water. Pulse a few times to get it started and then process until completely smooth. Add the nutritional yeast, lemon juice, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and spices. Process until everything is completely combined and smooth. Transfer the cashew mix to a medium saucepan and heat over medium heat. Melt in the vegan butter, and then add the pumpkin puree and milk. Stir until everything is combined and the sauce is smooth and silky. Remove from the heat.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Pour the sauce onto the cooked pasta and toss to combine. At this point you can just garnish with parsley and eat the mac and cheese this way. If you are baking it, transfer the mac and cheese to a baking dish or ramekins that have been sprayed with cooking oil. In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs, oil and parsley. Top the mac and cheese with the bread crumb mixture. Bake for about 15 minutes or until the bread crumbs have browned. If the crumbs are taking too long to brown, turn the oven to broil for 5 minutes. You don’t want to bake it too long or it will get too dry. Serve while hot.