Vegan Mac & Cheese

By Carol Dudar

Photos By Above The Salt

It has been stated that a person who eats a vegan diet saves 1,100 gallons of water, 45 pounds of grain, 30 sq ft of forested land, 20 lbs CO2 equivalent, and one animal’s life.

Benefits of going vegan

Lower your risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes with a vegan diet: It’s widely acknowledged, even by major health organizations, that animal products rich in saturated fat and cholesterol are a major contributor to both heart disease and diabetes.

Treats or reverses other current health conditions: According to the WHO processed meat is a carcinogen and a China Study showing the connection between casein (milk protein) and cancer.

Animal products are dirty:  Meat, eggs, or dairy products, you’re dining on known bacteria, antibiotics, hormones, dioxins, and a host of other toxins that can cause serious health problems in humans. The USDA reports that 70% is caused by contaminated animal flesh.

Studies indicate that a varied vegan diet requires about a third of the land needed for conventional Western diets; 3.5 billion humans could live off the food currently fed to livestockFarms consume more food than they produce. On average it takes 6 kg of plant protein to produce just 1 kg of animal protein. Raising animals for food contributes to more greenhouse gases than any other sector (including transportation) New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions are the fifth highest per capita among 40 developed countries.

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INGREDIENTS

Pasta:

  • 3 cups (750 ml) gluten free pasta, uncooked

Sauce:

  • 2 cups(500 ml) vegetable stock
  • 1 cup (250 ml) water
  • 2 tsp (10 ml) kosher salt
  • 3 cups (750 ml) small chopped cauliflower
  • 1 cup (250 ml) peeled and small cubed butternut squash
  • 1 cup (250 ml) white onion, diced
  • 6 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, peeled (approx 2 tsp (10 ml)
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • ½ tsp (2 ml) kosher salt
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) fresh black pepper
  • 2 tsp (10 ml) dijon mustard
  • 3 tbsp (45 ml) nutritional yeast
  • 4 tbsp (60 ml) extra virgin olive oil

Topping:

  • 1 tbsp (15 ml) avocado or a neutral flavoured coconut oil
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) gluten free bread crumbs
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) nutritional yeast
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) finely chopped fresh parsley
  • ¼ cup (1 ml) kosher salt
  • fresh ground pepper to taste
  • ½ tsp (2 ml) 1 medium garlic clove, minced
  • (optional: ¼ tsp (1 ml) or less dried chili flakes

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Add the thyme, bay leaves and salt to the water and vegetable stock in a medium pot, cover and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat under the pot to a simmer, and add the cauliflower and butternut squash. Simmer for 15-20 min or until the vegetables are soft.
  2. Meanwhile, bring a large covered pot of salted water to a boil. Once boiling, add the pasta and cook according to the directions on the packaging. Stir frequently, and do not overcook, but cook until a la dente.
  3. Drain and rinse off in cold water to prevent sticking and from the pasta to keep cooking. Remove from heat, remove thyme and bay leaves, strain liquid off the vegetables and set the liquid aside.
  4. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  5. Add the drained vegetables to a food processor or blender, add the black pepper, dijon mustard, nutritional yeast, olive oil and ½ cup of the vegetable cooking liquid.. Blend on low speed until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed and add more cooking liquid if sauce seems too thick.
  6. Preheat a small frying pan, and add the avocado oil.
  7. Mix the bread crumbs, nutritional yeast, parsley, salt, black pepper, garlic and chile flakes. Add to the frying pan, heat and stir until bread crumbs are lightly toasted and golden brown. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  8. In a medium bowl, toss the sauce with the cooked pasta and transfer to a small (1 L) baking dish. Sprinkle the breadcrumb topping over the mixture and cover the baking dish with foil, and bake for 10 min or until hot. Turn the oven setting to broil, remove the foil and broil the top until the top of the mac n’ cheese is a bit crispy and golden brown.
  9. Let rest for 5 min, and serve.

You may also like this recipe: Butternut Squash Pasta With Fresh Peas, Basil, Caramelized Lemon, & Pink Peppercorns

Publisher’s Note: Carol Dudar is a Toronto based recipe developer and food stylist.