If you missed my last post on Nutritional Yeast, and you’re not familiar with that ingredient, you may want to check it out before reading further because this post is very “nooch” focused.
I guess I should start by saying that I’ve probably tried every “cheezy” nutritional yeast sauce out there. From virtually straight-up, to tofu-based, to cauliflower-based (!), I’ve tried them all. And although they weren’t always the best, I’ve eaten them all, because they were smothered over big bowls of pasta. Let’s face it: I never say “no” to a bowl of pasta (except one covered and real cheese and/or meat, of course!)
Truthfully, I’m being a bit harsh about those cheeze sauces. They weren’t that bad. They were all pretty good (except maybe the cauliflower one). They were thick and creamy and as close to the “real” thing as one can remember after being vegan for over 15 years. But there was something missing. Also, many of them called for a lot of vegan margarine, which I try to avoid unless absolutely necessary when baking special-occasion desserts or treats.
Last week I was going through my bookmarks and came across The Epicurean Vegan’s Creamy Macaroni and Cashew Cheese post about Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s recipe from her book, The Vegan Table. A cashew-based cheeze sauce? This I had to try!
I have to say (and as you’v probably guessed from the title of this post) – this is definitely the best vegan cheeze sauce that I’ve ever tried. It’s rich and creamy, but also sweet and mellow. The cashews alone would impart a bit of sweetness, but I think it’s the miso that really does the trick. Oh, and I have to say that the addition of truffle oil is pretty awesome. It adds a nice sophistication to an otherwise rather basic comfort food.
- The original recipe makes a lot of sauce – I halved the recipe and I think I ended-up eating it over 3-4 meals. The halved recipe appears below.
- My sauce turned-out a bit darker because although my miso paste is labelled “white”, it’s actually really dark brown.
- I used half the oil and it still turned out great (the halved oil is included in the recipe below).
- I realize this isn’t macaroni – small spirals were all I had on hand!
- I didn’t mix all the sauce into the pasta initially, so I was able to use my leftover sauce on this big bowl of quinoa and broccoli. It’s a healthier option that I had originally read about on Jenn’s website (her version is good but this cashew one steals the show for me).
- Aug 2, 2012 – I have to agree with Epicurean Vegan – this is way better straight-up, rather than baked in the oven. However, I’ve included that option in the directions above, as per the original recipe, in case you prefer baked mac & cheese.
- ½ cup + 2 tbsp raw cashews
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp salt, to taste
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- 1/16 tsp white pepper
- 1 + ¾ cups almond or soy milk
- 1.5 tbsp cornstarch
- ¼ cup canola oil
- 2 tbsp light (yellow or white) miso paste
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 6-8oz pasta, cooked (use gluten-free if needed)
- 1 tsp truffle oil (optional, but highly recommended)
- Place cashews in a large-sized bowl of the food processor and finely grind–just don’t let the cashews turn to a paste. Add nutritional yeast, onion powder, salt, garlic powder, and white pepper. Pulse three more times to blend in spices.
- In a heavy saucepan, combine milk, cornstarch and oil(s). Bring to a simmer over high heat. Decrease heat to low-medium, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes, or until cornstarch dissolves.
- With the food processor running, gradually add milk/oil mixture to cashew/nutritional yeast mixture. Blend for 2 minutes or until smooth and creamy. Next blend in miso and lemon juice.
- Combine cashew cheese with macaroni noodles and serve. You may also bake it: Preheat oven to 325 and place macaroni mixture in a 8 or 9″ square baking dish. Cover and bake 20 minutes. Uncover and sprinkle with ½ C herbed bread crumbs. Continue baking, uncovered, for 15-25 minutes until topping is golden brown.