This is absolutely my most requested recipe!!! Whenever I take the Very Best Mac & Cheese to a pot luck or cookout, it is adored by vegans and non-vegans alike. But I have to be honest - it's not my recipe! I've included it here for everyone's enjoyment, with my…ahem! "perfected" directions. This first appeared in VegNews in October 2008 and quickly became a huge sensation. It was created by Allison Rivers and I believe it was the first recipe I ever tried using raw cashews for a creamy base.
6 quarts water
1/2 tablespoon sea salt
16 ounces elbow or penne macaroni
4 slices of white or sourdough bread, torn into large pieces
2 Tablespoons + 2/3 cup Earth Balance or other vegan margarine
3 Tablespoons shallots, peeled and chopped
2 cups red or yellow potatoes, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup carrots, peeled and chopped
2/3 cup onion, peeled and chopped
2 cups water
1/2 cup raw cashews
3 teaspoons sea salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1Tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon paprika (optional)
In a large pot, bring the water and salt to a boil an cook the macaroni until al dente. Drain the cooked pasta and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
In a food processor, make breakcrumbs by pulverizing the bread and 2 Tablespoons margarine to a medium-fine texture. Set aside
Preheat the oven to 350F. In a medium sauce pan, add the shallots, potatoes, carrots, onion and water and bring to a boil. Cover the pan and simmer for 15 minutes or until the vegetables are very soft. Do not drain. Remove from heat.
In a large, high-speed blender, add two or three ladle-fulls of the vegetables and cooking water mixture. Add the cashews, salt, garlic, 2/3 cup margarine, mustard, lemon juice, black pepper, cayenne and smoked paprika. Process until nearly smooth. Add any remaining vegetables and cooking water and blend until completely smooth.
In a large bowl, toss the cooked pasta and blended cheese sauce until the pasta is completely coated. Spread mixture into a 9x13 casserole dish, sprinkle with the prepared breadcrumbs and dust with remaining paprika, if desired. Bake for 15 minutes. Lay a loose sheet of foil over the top so the bread crumbs don't get to dark and bake for an addition 15 minutes (total of 30 minutes baking time).
Now enjoy the applause!
The Very Best Mac & Cheese