The one recipe I’ve been wanting to try and make vegan for a while is my vegetable filled macaroni and cheese. However, I’ve been afraid to do it, because I wasn’t very confident in how it would come out. It’s difficult to cook something and have it fail, you know? My entire plan was to make it exactly how I would have made it before, but with vegan ingredients, since that seemed like it’d be my best bet. What if the almond milk did something weird? What if the cheese didn’t melt, or clumped up, in the attempt to make a sauce? But, I finally decided to give it a go. The worst thing that could happen would be me throwing it away and eating something out of the freezer, so I didn’t feel like I had much to lose (than some wasted ingredients, that is).
I decided to see if anyone wanted to come over and be a test subject (I fully support human testing) for this mac and cheese experiment, so I posted about it on everyone’s favorite social media network. What I didn’t realize was the controversy I had created by calling my potential food creation “mac and cheese,” since it would neither contain traditional macaroni nor cheese. A pretty unnecessarily brutal argument broke out regarding the animal-alternative industry’s nomenclature involving alternative products like cheese, and how vegans are essentially all hypocrites because if we don’t want to eat something because it’s animal based, we should just stop trying to create vegan versions of it, and we don’t accept where our food comes from. I was pretty taken aback at all of this; how did my simple invitation to my friends turn into an attack on my lifestyle that has absolutely no negative effect on anyone else? I was accused of being a judgmental, pushy, hipster vegan for defending my lifestyle choice on the basis of my morality. It was great.
I guess what I ultimately don’t understand is why this, out of all of my other lifestyle choices, is the one that gets attacked most regularly. I didn’t realize that, by becoming a vegan, I was offending so many people. I don’t run around chanting, “I am a vegan, and all of you non-vegans are terrible people!!!!” so I don’t really understand why I am constantly under attack. Hey, guess what, I also don’t drink, smoke, or do drugs! No one seems to want to attack me for that, though. I share my recipes because I like food, and I think that it’s great when people make the decision to go vegan; I never do it to convert all of my friends/the universe to my lifestyle.
Anyway, let’s get to this recipe, yeah?
Ingredients: nutritional yeast, flour, almond milk, pasta, vegan cheese alternative, vegan buttery stick, mushrooms, jalapeño, zucchini, asparagus, and tomatoes.
Ingredients (this is for 2 servings!)
- 2 servings of your choice of pasta (I did whole wheat elbows, although I very nearly purchased shells)
- 1 tablespoon vegan butter
- 1 tablespoon of flour
- 1 cup of milk alternative (I used unsweetened, plain almond milk)
- 3oz of cheese alternative (since I had two kinds of “cheese,” I used 1.5 oz of each)
- 1 tablespoon of nutritional yeast
- Seasonings (salt, paprika, pepper)
**Note that all of the following ingredients are completely optional. If you don’t want vegetables infesting your food, leave all of these out. You can absolutely make the recipe with just the ingredients listed above. This is just what I like to add!
- 1/2 jalapeño
- 1 large garlic clove
- 1 small zucchini
- 5-6 asparagus stalks
- 1.5 oz mushrooms (I prefer crimini)
- 8-10 cherry tomatoes, or 1 small roma tomato
- Optional: a slice or bread or some bread crumbs, for the top!
- Cook your pasta choice according to package directions, minus a minute or two.
- Melt the vegan butter, and add the flour. Cook these together until they bubble a bit and expand (you’re creating a roux!). Add your milk alternative and stir over medium heat until the mixture bubbles and thickens. Add your cheese alternatives and stir until melted goodness happens.
- Add your nutritional yeast and spices.
- Once this is done, add your pasta to the sauce. If you are not adding vegetables, you are done!
If you are going to add the vegetables, complete the following steps while the pasta is cooking:
- Finely dice the garlic and jalapeño, and chop all of your other vegetables into bite sized pieces. Sauté the garlic and jalapeño until they soften a bit, and then add all of your other vegetables. Cook them until they become soft and begin to give up most of their liquid, maybe 5-7 minutes.
- After you have completed steps 1-4 above, add the vegetable mixture into your mac and cheese.
- Put it all into a dish, and get ready to eat!
- If you want a crunchy bread topping, preheat your oven to 425. If you don’t have bread crumbs, toast a slice of bread and cut it into cubes. Put your bready goodness on top, and bake in the oven for 5-7 minutes. Pull out and shovel into your mouth.