This was my first attempt at veganizing my all time favorite, mac n' cheese. When I was little, every time I went to my grandparents I would beg my Grammie to make her baked mac n' cheese for me and I would basically lick the bowl clean. Hence, my little set back from considering myself vegan. I couldn't tell you the last time I had milk, I can't bring myself to eat eggs...but there is just something about the cheese that really makes it a challenge for me. I know in time, I will get over it..just like I did when I was 13 and had idea from out of the blue to become a vegetarian after being traumatized by "Meet your Meat." How anyone could eat these poor animals who felt such pain was beyond me, and I put a stop to it then. And as a kid, I ate any and all meats that were put on my plate...and I hate to say it, but I barely ate any vegetables because I just did not like them (corn and mashed potatoes don't exactly count for much). But, somehow I got the willpower and knew I did not want to be a contributing factor to animal suffering and that was that. I was a vegetarian. It was a challenge at that age and now is so second nature to me that I could never imagine going back to an omnivore lifestyle. Many ask and no, I never crave any meat, ever. So hopefully the same will happen with cheese over time (I highly commend anyone who is a vegan because it isn't an easy feat, from my point of view anyways).
Despite my worsening sickness, I did not want to spend my day off in bed all day so I took a trip to Whole Foods and stocked up on ingredients I found that I needed after recipe searching through Veganomicon and Appetite for Reduction. I'm really excited to get the ball rolling on cooking my way through my new vegan cookbooks, hopefully making the transition process easier. As Dave's mom likes to say, "We have vegan training wheels." One day, I hope to take those bad boys off and go riding off into the sunset on my big girl bike into my own new world without animal products of any kind.
I have to say, I did like this recipe. I didn't LOVE it, but I won't be letting the leftovers go to waste. Unfortunately, Dave really didn't go for this one (which is a shame because he loves buffalo and mac n' cheese so I was hoping to win him over with this one) so looks like I'm on my own in finishing it off! It obviously isn't going to taste exactly like traditional mac n' cheese (although I realllllly, and unrealistically, hoped it would) but I did like the taste. If I try is again I would like to find a way to give it a creamier texture because that's the thing I love the most about mac n' cheese and what makes it so comforting and delicious in my eyes. I'll probably try adding some sprinked Daiya cheddar on the leftovers to give it a "cheezier" taste..it just needs a little boost. As for the tempeh, ehhh...I'm a little on the fence. It really absorbed the flavor of the buffalo nicely (and quickly) but the texture was different to me and I'm sure I'll just need to get used to it. It did surprise me though because I tried a buffalo tempeh sandwich that was absolutely delicious, inspiring me to try this. I did find a recipe that calls for breading the tempeh first (to make them more like buffalo wings) which might cure my tempeh texture conundrum. Not that it's a big deal, but I would have preferred to use some Gardein chicken strips with buffalo sauce or some buffalo marinated tofu. Trial and error, that's all! I am glad I tried this recipe though...because I would rather have a different version of mac n' cheeze than live in a world without it at all.
EDIT: After reheating some left overs, I added some sprinkled cheddar Diaya cheese on top and it made a HUGE difference..definitely added a nice "meltiness" to the mac n' cheeze..next time I will be sure to incorporate it throughout the whole dish.
Mac Daddy: (Veganomicon)
Cheez Sauce (double this recipe):
- 3 cups vegetable broth
- 1/4 cup All Purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, Minced
- Pinch of Dried thyme (crumbled in your fingers)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon turmeric
- 3/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon prepared yellow mustard
- 1/2 pound elbow macaroni
- 1/2 pound extra firm tofu
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the macaroni and cook according to the package directions, about 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, prepare your Cheezy Sauce.
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
- When the pasta is ready, drain and set aside.
- When sauce is ready, begin assembling.
- Combine the broth and flour in a measuring cup and whisk with a fork until dissolved (a couple of lumps are okay).
- Preheat a small saucepan over medium-low heat.
- Place the oil and garlic in the pan and gently cook for about 2 minutes, stirring often and being careful not to burn the garlic.
- Add the thyme, salt, and pepper, and cook for about 15 seconds. Add the broth, turmeric, and nutritional yeast, and raise the heat to medium. Use a whisk to stir constantly. The mixture should start bubbling and thickening in about 3 minutes; if it doesn’t, turn the heat on a bit higher.
- Once the mixture is bubbling and thickening, stir and cook for about 2 more minutes.
- Add the lemon juice and mustard.
- The mixture should resemble a thick, melty cheese.
- Taste for salt (you may need more), turn off the heat, and cover the pan to keep it warm until ready to use. The top might thicken a bit while it sits, but you can just stir it and it will be fine.
- Crumble the tofu into an 8x8 inch glass or ceramic baking dish. Mash the tofu with your hands until it resembles ricotta cheese. Add the salt, olive oil, and lemon juice, then stir.
- Add 1/2 cup Cheezy Sauce to the tofu and stir.
- Add the macaroni to the tofu, along with 1 1/2 more cups of sauce, and stir well.
- Smooth the top of the pasta mixture and press it down with a spatula to level it.
- Then pour the remaining sauce over the pasta and smooth again.
- Bake for 30 minutes; the top of the macaroni should be slightly browned.
- Let sit for 10-20 minutes to thicken up.
- 8 oz tempeh, cut into wedges
- 1/2 cup vegetable broth
- 1/2 cup cayenne hot sauce
- 6 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- Steam the tempeh for 5 minutes, this will loosen the tempeh and allow it to absorb the marinade flavors
- Mix together the marinade ingredients in a medium size bowl. When the tempeh is done steaming transfer it to the marinade. Let it marinate for at least 10 minutes, up to an hours.
- Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Spray the pan with a bit of non stick cooking spray. Add the tempeh slices and reserve the marinade.
- Cook tempeh for 10 minutes flipping often until it has browned a bit. Ad the remaining sauce and turn up the heat to high. Let the liquid boil and cook down for about 5 minutes.