[Perfect, homey, rustic comfort food. . . I feel better already.]
I’ve decided I want to be a computer programmer in my next life. No, scratch that: I want to be a computer programmer in THIS life. In fact, think I’ll take advantage of the free tuition for employees at the college where I work and just study programming right away. Why? Because if I knew how to program a computer, then events like being hacked–and having my entire blog disappear for several hours as it did this morning–might be less traumatic.
For those of you who tried to visit DDD this morning, I apologize if all you saw was a “sign up for WordPress!” form (that’s all I saw, too). Oh, and that long, rambling post I wrote a few days ago, the ACD update that reviewed the last four years on the diet? Vanished. And all your wonderful comments in response to that post? Gone. Buh-bye.
[Nacho Supreme will return!]
I will do my best to recreate the post over the next few days (silly me–discarded my original draft) and will repost the Nacho Supreme recipe for those of you who are interested. But frankly, today, after the initial punch-to-the-belly reaction from seeing the blank blog page, and then spending over an hour on the phone with the incredibly sweet and helpful Bluehost techie guy (Matt, if I ever leave the HH, I think I want to marry you), well, I decided what I needed instead this evening was some classic comfort food.
It’s actually out of character for me to find anything that isn’t sweet (or chocolate-based) comforting, but this mac and cheese felt like just the ticket. Growing up, I never ate much macaroni and cheese, not only because it was a rarity in our house (my mother made it perhaps four times that I can remember), but because once I tasted the conventional kind, I decided I really didn’t like it much. True, my mom was much more a baker than a good cook; and true, and her version of mac ‘n cheese was more like “mush ‘n charred”; so it probably wasn’t a fair assessment. (However, I did love Kraft Dinner in those days–aka Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, for all you Americans–but then again, in those days, I’d eat anything that offered dayglo orange or was made of chemicals. SweeTarts, anyone?). Even when I subsequently ordered the dish in a restaurant, I always found it somehow cloying, as if my throat dried up when I ate it. Needless to say, I tended to avoid it, even decades after leaving my parent’s house.
And then, I discovered vegan mac and cheese. Eureka! My first foray into the creamy, dreamy pasta dish was via Susan Voisin’s Easy Macaroni and Cheeze. I couldn’t believe how lush, how velvety, how flavorful and delicious this sauce-over-pasta dish was. Not only that–it was quick and easy to make, nothing like my mum’s dried up, crusty, mouth-puckering casserole. My love of vegan mac and cheese was fully cemented (no relation to the cheese in my mum’s recipe) when I cooked up Dreena’s Mac Oh Geez last year. What a revelation! A baked macaroni and cheese that remained creamy, rich, and flavorful even after fully cooked.
I used elements of both those dishes in my own casserole. Besides offering true comfort in a thick, pillowy sauce with elbow macaroni (the quintessential “comfort pasta,” in my opinion), this dish is the epitome of lazy cooking: blend your sauce ingredients, dump them into a casserole dish with the uncooked pasta, and bake, unattended, until done.
One caveat: this dish is not pretty. (Then again, neither is Julia Roberts, but look how much all of North America loves her). While the pasta bakes, it absorbs most of the liquid in the sauce, leaving a buttery, luxurious cheesy coating that envelops the pasta in a velvety cloak. The flavor is exceedingly mild, just the way I want my mac and cheese, but if you like yours sharper, you can increase the mustard and onion in the dish.
The HH was not as ecstatic about this as I was. “This doesn’t taste like cheese,” he frowned. True, HH; but to me, that’s not the point. The sauce is evocative of mac and cheese, and its creaminess, plus the hint of sweetness in the sauce both fulfil my requirements for a perfectly comforting dinner. Just the thing when your morning started off with a little trauma.
This is my contribution to this week’s Wellness Weekend.
Easy, Comforting Mac N Cheese Casserole
This is the kind of dish you can throw in the oven and then forget about until it’s time to dig in. Then, you’ll find perfectly cooked pasta, coated throughout in a cushy, cheesy, creamy sauce. Add-ins are optional; I prefer my pasta unadorned, except for the luxurious blanket of sauce.
2 cups (480 ml) elbow pasta (I used gluten-free rice pasta)
2 cups (480 ml) vegetable broth or stock
2 cups (480 ml) unsweetened plain soy, almond or almond-coconut milk
1 cup (240 ml) raw cashews
1/2 cup (120 ml) raw hemp seeds
1/2 cup (120 ml) sweet potato purée (I make my own from baked sweet potatoes; canned is fine)
1/2 yellow onion, cut in chunks
1 Tbsp (15 ml) extra virgin olive oil, preferably organic
1 Tbsp (15 ml) fresh lemon juice
1 large clove garlic
1 tsp (5 ml) dijon mustard
1/4 tsp (1 ml) paprika
1 tsp (5 ml) light miso
1 Tbsp (15 ml) arrowroot powder
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) fine sea salt, or to your taste
Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Spray a large (8 cup/2 L) casserole dish or 9 x 11 inch ( cm) pan with nonstick spray, or lightly grease with oil. Toss the dry pasta into the dish and set aside.
In a powerful blender, blend remaining ingredients until smooth. Pour over pasta in dish and poke down any elbows that have floated to the top so that all the pasta is submerged.
Cover the casserole and bake 40 minutes. Remove from oven and stir the pasta. Return to the oven and bake another 30 minutes, then check for doneness. The casserole is ready when the pasta is soft and most of the liquid is absorbed, leaving a thick, creamy sauce throughout. If the pasta isn’t quite ready, remove the cover at this point and return to the oven to bake another 15-20 minutes before checking again. If desired, sprinkle with additional paprika.
Bake until ready, then allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving. May be topped with toasted breadcrumbs in the final 15 minutes of baking, if you like (I prefer mine plain). Makes 6-8 servings. May be frozen. To reheat, defrost first, then sprinkle with a little extra broth or milk and heat, covered, in a 350F (180C) oven for 20-25 minutes, until heated through.
Suitable for: ACD Stage 3 and beyond, sugar-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, egg free, soy-free, vegan.
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Last Year at this Time: Fava Bean Balls with Cranberry-Tomato Chutney (gluten free; ACD All Stages)
Two Years Ago: Tofu Mole (gluten free; ACD Stage 2 and beyond)
Three Years Ago: Crimson Mousse (gluten free; ACD All Stages)
Four Years Ago: Sweet Potato Smoothie (gluten free; ACD Maintenance)
Five Years Ago: Basic Trail Mix Template (gluten free; ACD Maintenance)
© Ricki Heller, Diet, Dessert and Dogs
[Disclaimer: this post may contain affiliate links. If you buy using these links, at no cost to you, I will earn a small commission from the sale.]
Whoa — sorry about your blog woes. I’m so glad all you lost was one post, though it was a significant loss. I hate hackers. I clearly remember the sickening feeling I had when I discovered all the photos gone from my blog. It’s amazing the tech guy could pull it all back together. I wasn’t so lucky.
My mother never made mac and cheese, and when I finally tasted it, I felt the same throat scratching glug as you did. I much prefer vegan mac and cheese, though I rarely make it. It’s probably time for another go.
Thanks, Andrea. And I remember that I felt that feeling FOR you when I read about your photos! In this case, the company has a constant backup but it doesn’t include the most recent day, so the last post was lost. I’ve upgraded so that the backup is more frequent. 😉 And gee, I wonder if our mothers used the same mac and cheese recipe? 😉
Oh that sucks! I went to see if the post could be salvaged through my RSS reader before I remembered that your posts only show the first couple of sentences and then a jump so no luck… I’ve never had mac & cheese of any kind but I’ve never liked creamy (the dairy kind) pasta dishes; this seems like a much nicer option. Our blender is not up to the task but perhaps with some modifications…
Thanks, Tuuli. I don’t even know how to change the Reader settings so that you could see the whole post! Next time we remake the nachos, I’ll post the recipe again. So sorry if you were looking for it! And I do think your blender could be up to the task–I’d blend the nuts with the sweet potato and liquid, THEN add everything else and see how it works. You might have to do it in 2 batches, but it should work out. 🙂
Johanna GGG says
that is terrible about your blog being hacked and losing a post (esp one that was so full of thoughtful reflection – and I wanted that nachos supreme recipe) – makes me feel a bit nervous about mine and backing it up. I think mac and cheeze comfort is definitely called for. I love mac and cheese (or macaroni cheese as we called it though my mum never made it that I remember). But I have never had the macaroni baked in the sauce – must try this some day – and though you say it doesn’t look pretty I am still impressed by your top photo
Thanks for commiserating, Johanna! A wonderful reader had actually saved it, so I’m going to copy it from there–yay! This version is basically just my laziness as a cook–I didn’t want to have to boil the pasta first, then bake, so figured I could do it all in one step. And it worked! 🙂
Glad you got everything back up and running…I too wish I had more technical expertise. I think my 3-year-old is more tech-savvy than I am! This dish sounds fabulous!!
Thanks, Erica. I think that’s the way of the world these days. . . three year-olds start using technology at that age, so it’s just natural for them. My 91 year-old dad can’t figure out how email could possibly work. It’s all relative! 😉
Aubree Cherie Davis says
Wow – yum!!! Haven’t had any form of mac and cheese in ages – this looks divine!
Thanks, Aubree! I’m not sure it’s “authentic” flavor, but I sure did love it anyway. 🙂
Ugh! So sorry to hear about your tech problems. We were hacked over the summer by a professional. They were actually sending banking scams through the server, took the website down, corrupted the database…. It was a nightmare and I was very thankful for my techie hubby to be the one dealing with it.
For the lost post – don’t you have daily automated back ups?
This looks fabulous!
Thanks, Wendy. And wow, your hacker sounds scary!! As for daily automated backup. . . I have it now. 😉
Oh no Ricki! That must’ve been horrible, and that sauce! Darn it. I am with you on the mac n cheese feeling. But since I have your word, I think I’ll have to try this. I know the kids would love it! Mmmm sweet potato!
The sweet potato adds just a teeny hint of sweetness in the sauce, which I loved. And that almost mushy, well-cooked noodle feel. . . a fave of mine, too. 🙂
Looks delish lady! After all these years, I’m finally getting a craving for an occasional “cheesy” or I should say pungent dish, so I’m enjoying recipes like this.
Yay! I think this is a good one to start–very easy! 🙂
Yumm this mac n cheese sounds amazing Ricki!!!
Thanks, Heather! It was a creamy delight. Your soup sounds great, too! 🙂
Yesterday I found the recipe for cauliflower and sweet potatoe mash, and today I can’t find it any more.
Is there a way of finding recipes in your system?
thank you very much
You might be thinking of someone else’s blog on this recipe. . . I don’t have a cauliflower/sweet potato mash on my blog. Any recipe that’s a mash (ie a side dish) would appear in the “veggies and side dishes” category in the recipe index, though. Perhaps you’re thinking of the parsnip, cauliflower and white bean mash?
this top image has been stuck in my head ever since it first caught my eye on findingvegan. Few days later I’m finalllllly diving into the realm of vegan mac and cheese. Hope it turns out as delicious as yours appears to have been!
So glad to hear it! Hope you enjoy. Nothing like comfort food! 🙂
Sandra @ The Adored Home says
Joining you from the Meatless Monday Blog Hop! What a yummy recipe! I will be trying this for sure! I am now following you on all social media. Hope you will stop by and do the same!
The Adored Home
Thanks so much, Sandra, and for your comment! I just peeked at the rest of the hop and wow–such great entries!! I’m off to check out your other pages, too. 🙂
Becky Striepe says
Oh my gosh, this looks like such a cozy bowl of goodness! I bet that sauce would be nice for dipping bread or on nachos, too!
Ricki Heller says
It would be, Becky! It’s kind of all-purpose. 🙂
Amy Katz from Veggies Save The Day says
I always love mac and cheese! And I can eat all the ingredients in yours, which makes it perfect!
Ricki Heller says
Yay! I love it when that happens, Amy! Hope you love it. 🙂