One of my all time favorite things to eat is macaroni and cheese. What is there to not like, after all? Lots of carbs with cheesy sauce holding it all together, yum. And it was even one of the first things I learned how to make as a child – yep, the neon orange stuff in the blue box. My mother’s homemade version was much better 🙂 .
But then when I went vegan, the stuff in the box wasn’t at all good, so I set out to create a version of my own that would taste great. And for sure, it uses a vegan’s best friend in the kitchen – cashew cream.
This is a somewhat tweaked out variation of my regular mac and cheese, and it’s amazing. It takes that creamy cheesy sauce and adds the smoky flavor of tempeh bacon, the sharp zing from the scallions, and the juice from the tomatoes adds a richness to the sauce.
Vegan Mac and Cheese with Tempeh Bacon, Scallions and Tomatoes
- 8 to 16 oz uncooked pasta (I used whole wheat fusilli – the ridges seem to hold everything better!)
- 1 package tempeh (or use prepared tempeh bacon and skip the next 4 ingredients)
- 4 tablespoons tamari
- 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
- 1 teaspoon vegan worcestershire sauce (still great if you don’t have this)
- 1 cup cashews
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard (you can use prepared mustard, but make sure there’s no added sugar)
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- salt & pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup vegan cheddar cheese (optional)
- 2 scallions, sliced
- 1 medium tomato, diced
Start by making the tempeh bacon:
Slice the tempeh into very thin squares and place in a bowl. My pieces were about 1/8″ thick, and about a half inch long. In a glass measuring cup, measure out 2 tablespoons tamari, 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke, and 1/2 teaspoon worcestershire sauce. Add water to make 1/4 cup total liquid. Pour over the tempeh and toss well. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and broil at 475 degrees for 10-12 minutes.
While it’s in the oven, make the same marinade again: in the measuring cup, put the remaining 2 tablespoons tamari, 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke and 1/2 teaspoon worcestershire sauce. Add water to make 1/4 cup.
When the tempeh is browned and looking slightly crunchy, remove from the oven, turn it over so the uncooked side is up and pour the second round of marinade over it. Broil for another 8-10 minutes.
Put the pasta on to cook. The amount needed depends on how you plan to serve it. If you will toss everything together and serve, use 16 ounces of pasta. If you prefer to mix the ingredients and bake it for a few minutes, use only 8 ounces, as it will soak up more of the sauce while it’s in the oven.
While the pasta is cooking, make the cheese sauce:
Blend the cashews with 1 cup of water. Place in a small saucepan, and gently heat. Add the mustard, salt & pepper and nutritional yeast and whisk until well blended. Cook until heated through, whisking in the remaining half cup of water as it’s heating.
When the pasta is cooked, drain and stir in the sauce. Then mix in the tempeh bacon, scallions and tomato. You can serve it as is, or you can place in a baking dish and bake for 10-15 minutes at 350 degrees for an oven-baked version. You can also add a tablespoon or two of breadcrumbs before baking (I grated a slice of Ezekial bread on top).
Coming out of the oven…..
When the top is browned, remove from the oven and enjoy!