OK, I actually outdid myself here. This was something I randomly dreamed up in my head over the weekend, probably drawing inspiration from a few sources around the interwebs (although a quick google search never provided any actual recipes for this). I had really been craving mac n’ cheese and wanted to make a vegan alternative but wanted to stay away from the fake soy cheeses and nutritional yeast. No judgment if you love those products but the fake cheese kinda gives me the creeps and while I like nutritional yeast I was determined to find some other way. I also didn’t want to use nuts, for the sake of the challenge.
This was a total experiment and one that was well worth the effort (it wasn’t that hard but now that I know the best way to do it, it’ll be easier the second time around). The key is the salt in the pasta water which gets nice and starchy and adds a slightly nutty flavor to the mild cauliflower and sweet carrot. So without further ado let me tell you about this amazing vegan mac and cheese that accompanied my pan seared Wild King Salmon from, you guessed it, Wabash Seafood Company, and some simply sauteed zucchini.
What I used: (The meal was for one but the mac n cheese yielded two generous servings)
- 1 6 oz filet of wild salmon
- 1 lemon
- 2 zucchinis (cut in half and then in half moons)
- 2 servings of Trader Joe’s Brown Rice & Quinoa Fussili
- 3 large orange carrots (I used full long carrots, you could use about a cup of the baby carrots if you already had those on hand – also could use white or yellow carrots if you wanted a lighter color)
- 1 small head of cauliflower
- a splash of homemade almond milk (optional)
- The salmon – see here, here, or here for simple pan searing instructions
- The zucchini – saute on high/medium heat with oil, salt, & pepper until golden
- The Mac N Cheese: The key is salting your pasta water heavily and saving it when the pasta is done!
- Cut the carrots into smaller pieces for faster roasting (I cut them long ways and then in half)
- Cut the cauliflower head into florets for faster roasting
- Drizzle both with oil and plenty of salt, roast at 400 for about 35 minutes or until tender and turning golden (you can do this ahead of time and store in the fridge for a day).
- Heavily salt a pot of water or your pasta, then once your pasta is cooked (about 8 minutes) remove the pasta and keep the liquid.
- Add the carrots & cauliflower to your blender, ladle some of the pasta water into your blender. Begin blending and adding water until it’s smooth and creamy, basically like a cream soup. I ended up adding almost all of the water from my pot. Add almond milk to make it even creamier (I added a little less than 1/4 cup before I added the water).
- Toss your pasta in the sauce and serve it up hot. I had about half of the “sauce” leftover so I put it in the fridge and ate it the next day as a soup! So delicious and easy.