Hey everyone. Guess what? I don’t have cable. Do you know what this means? It means that right now (9:19 pm) I am missing the season 5 premiere of my favorite television show – Mad Men. Sigh. I actually don’t care about television that much to be honest. I feel there are more productive ways to spend my time and I haven’t had cable (do they still call it that?) in many years. Plus, I just acquired a television a couple of years ago. I do enjoy film though, so I have Netflix. And Netflix is how I discovered and began watching Mad Men (now an exception to my ‘no television’). I blew through all 4 seasons, sometimes watching a few episodes a night. It’s really that good and yes, I really am that addicted. It’s brilliant. Anyway, tonight I decided I needed some comfort food to make myself feel better for missing out. Sniff.
So! I wanted to share with you my personal recipe for Vegan Mac and Cheese. Yeah yeah, I know those of you well into watching Don Draper light his 9th Lucky Strike right now don’t really care about my little recipe for mac and cheese, but trust me, you will appreciate this later!
I do not claim to be a photographer, much less a food photographer. Food photos are a challenge! I admire those who’ve learned how to use lighting to their advantage to make food in photos look so wonderfully appealing. I’m sure you can think of some diners and restaurants that have great food but terrible photos of their entrees – they look grey, dreary and unappetizing, right? I hope mine looks okay. I’ve never really practiced how to style food either (another very essential skill to have in food photography). In this photo I stuck a bottle of Clancy’s Hot Sauce in the background which, by the way, is a delicious hot sauce from Ann Arbor, Michigan that is a perfect accompaniment to mac and cheese. In all honesty, I “styled” and snapped this photo in about 15 seconds with my iPhone. Like I said, not a food photographer.
VEGAN MAC & CHEESE (Folks, don’t be afraid of the word “vegan.” It’s not weird. All it means is there are no animal products in here.)
2 cups whole wheat elbow macaroni (I get mine in bulk at my local food co-op)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup whole wheat flour (also in bulk section at my local food co-op)
1 and 3/4 cups boiling water
3/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes (yep, bulk section, my local food co-op)
2 cloves of garlic, pressed
salt and pepper to taste
Boil pasta until al dente, drain, and set aside.
Boil at least 2 cups of water in a tea pot.
In medium saucepan, add olive oil and flour. Mix well with a wooden spoon on medium-low heat. Mix continuously for about a minute or so. Add 1 and 3/4 cups of the boiling water from the tea pot to the olive oil and flour, mixing the entire time. This is called making a “roux” (a classic part of French cooking). The roux should thicken shortly after adding the water. Still stirring, add the nutritional yeast. Nutritional yeast is responsible for the cheesy flavor and is a great source of vitamin B12. It is a common ingredient in vegan cooking (and tastes great sprinkled on popcorn too, by the way). Add the pressed garlic and the salt and pepper to taste. Finally, add the cooked macaroni and reheat.
If you want to, you can:
1. Pour the mac and cheese into a casserole dish and top with Panko (or another type of bread crumbs). Stick it in the oven for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees F.
2. Add kale! Yes, kale. Just stick some kale in a food processor for a few seconds and then mix it with the mac and cheese. Great way to eat your greens.
3. Add hot sauce. I am partial to Clancy’s (mentioned above) or Sriracha.
This mac and cheese can be paired with braised kale (recipe here) for a delicious and healthy vegan meal.