Pasta with Cashew Cream & Cheese

Pasta with Cashew Cream and Cheese -- Epicurean Vegan(Unfortunately) most of us probably grew up on the boxed mac and cheese stuff, and likely, so have our kids. And kids like their mac and cheese. Instead of giving them that nasty, chemical-filled boxed junk, try making this kid-pleasing version using grated vegan cheese and cashew cream. Not only is it creamy, but it actually tastes cheesy and pretty darn delicious. While this may not top the list of the most healthiest vegan dishes, it’s miles from the fat-laden dairy version. Cashews are loaded with heart-protective monosaturated fats, antioxidants, calcium and protein. You can use your favorite vegan cheddar such as Daiya, Follow Your Heart or even make your own. This is also an easy recipe that your kiddos can help out with too!

INGREDIENTS:
16-oz uncooked pasta, such as elbows, shells or spirals
1 to 1-1/4 C vegetable broth (it just depends on how thick you want it)
4-oz vegan cheddar, shredded (I used Follow Your Heart brand)
1/3 C nutritional yeast
1 C cashews, soaked for at least an hour in hot water (if you can; no biggie if you can’t soak them)
1/2 C water
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
2 dashes of nutmeg
Salt and pepper, to taste
Optional ingredients: sneak in those veggies by adding peas, carrots or broccoli. Or spice it up with green chilies or salsa.

Pasta with Cashew Cream and Cheese -- Epicurean Vegan

DIRECTIONS:
Cook the pasta according to package instruction, or until al dente. Meanwhile, make the cashew cream. If you soaked the cashews, drain them and transfer to a food processor. Puree until finely ground, scraping the sides of processor bowl if necessary. Add the water, apple cider vinegar and salt. Puree 2 minutes, or until smooth. Drain the pasta, then return it to the pot. Over medium-low heat, fold in the grated cheese,  cashew cream, broth and nutritional yeast. Combine well and continue to stir until the cheese is completely melted. Season with the nutmeg, salt and pepper. If using, add the optional ingredients and stir until heated through. Enjoy!

Pasta with Cashew Cream & Cheese
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 16-oz uncooked pasta, such as elbows, shells or spirals
  • 1 to 1-1/4 C vegetable broth (it just depends on how thick you want it)
  • 4-oz vegan cheddar, shredded (I used Follow Your Heart brand)
  • ⅓ C nutritional yeast
  • 1 C cashews, soaked for at least an hour in hot water (if you can; no biggie if you can't soak them)
  • ½ C water
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 dashes of nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Optional ingredients: sneak in those veggies by adding peas, carrots or broccoli. Or spice it up with green chilies or salsa.
Directions
  1. Cook the pasta according to package instruction, or until al dente. Meanwhile, make the cashew cream. If you soaked the cashews, drain them and transfer to a food processor. Puree until finely ground, scraping the sides of processor bowl if necessary. Add the water, apple cider vinegar and salt. Puree 2 minutes, or until smooth.
  2. Drain the pasta, then return it to the pot. Over medium-low heat, fold in the grated cheese, cashew cream, broth and nutritional yeast. Combine well and continue to stir until the cheese is completely melted.
  3. Season with the nutmeg, salt and pepper. If using, add the optional ingredients and stir until heated through. Enjoy!

 

 

 

Product Review: Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Pizza Crust

I’ve been wanting to try gluten-free pizza crust for quite some time now. I’d like to reduce to the amount of gluten I eat, so I was anxious to try this mix from Bob’s Red Mill. The mix requires water, oil and eggs. However, it suggests using 2 tablespoons of flaxseed meal and water as an egg replacement. I used Ener-G Egg Replacer. The package also comes with a yeast packet. The crust makes 2 12″ pizzas, or one 26″ pizza. Since The Husband is in San Francisco for work, the Sixth Grader and me decided to make a couple of pizzas tonight.

This is a simple process: combine the egg-replacer with water; set aside. In a large bowl whisk together 1-1/2 cups warm water with the yeast and let it sit a few minutes. Add the egg-replacer mixture and 2 Tbs olive oil to the yeast mixture. Stir in the pizza crust mix. I don’t recommend a whisk, as the dough will collect inside of it; use a wooden spoon. Divide the dough into two, cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 20 minutes.

The dough didn’t rise all that much after 20 minutes, but it could be that the dough wasn’t placed in a warm enough area. Preheat oven to 425. Grease a baking sheet/pizza pan and wet your hands with some water. Spread the dough onto the pan. The dough will have a spongy-mashed potato texture and having wet hands is critical when trying to spread it out. Bake for 7-9 minutes.

Top with your favorite sauce and toppings. The kid went with Tofurky Italian Sausage and FYH Mozzarella:

I also like to use Contadina sauce:

The directions said to bake for 16-18 minutes. About 14-15 minutes worked for us, but ovens run differently, so keep an eye on it.

I debated on what kind of pizza to make, but in the end, I went with spinach and mushrooms with truffle oil (big surprise, huh?)

So the verdict is . . . great. We really liked this crust a lot. The edges are crispy, like a crusty bread and the rest if softer and chewier.  The crunchy edge is really the only difference from regular pizza crust. I would regularly use this mix as an alternative to regular pizza dough. I think using this mix is much easier than making your own gluten-free pizza crust and highly recommend this one.

Product Review: Vegan Gourmet Nacho Cheese Alternative

The quest for tasty queso seems to be a never-ending task for vegans. The queso recipe posted earlier, is pretty darn good, but does require a lot more ingredients, so if that doesn’t appeal to you, the folks at Follow Your Heart have a great alternative and just as they claim…it DOES MELT! And $3.69 for 10-oz is not bad.

I chopped the block and added it to my electric fondue pot. FYH says you can melt it in a sauce pan as well. It is thick and solid enough to shred over tortilla chips and microwave, too.

After about 15 minutes, the “cheese” definitely resembled nacho cheese and quite surprisingly, tasted like it, too. It certainly has a spicy kick, but at the same time, that was about all I could really taste. That cheesy taste just wasn’t there–which is good in a way, too, because fake cheese can taste, well…fake. This didn’t taste like that, but it just was lacking something.

So what’s a vegan to do? I decided to add about 1/3-1/2C of rice (Galaxy Foods) Shredded “cheese” and it really gave it a much more cheesy taste and texture. It was just what it needed. The only thing that changed was, of course, the consistency. It made it a bit more elastic-y. It didn’t really allow one to “dip” a chip, but more, “scoop” the cheese. The taste was outstanding though–the closest that pre-packaged vegan cheese is to regular nacho cheese.

Follow Your Heart not only makes many great products such as Veganaise and salad dressings, but they are one of the most environmentally conscious companies around. Their manufacturing plant in California operates on 100% solar energy and used all recycled products in their facility. Check out the April 2010 issue of VegNews for more!