Okay so I am about to admit a deep dark secret. I watch The Chew on ABC at 1:00pm EST.
Their meals always consist of some form of animal product but they do give me some great ideas and I sometimes pick up a universal cooking tip here and there. On Monday’s episode they featured Chef Curtis Stone and his new cookbook “What’s For Dinner.” Chef Stone made what appeared to be a delicious mac and cheese or what he said the Australians call a “pasta bake.”
So of course I wanted this dish immediately and had to create a veganized version. It came out SO good! My version is not only vegan but gluten and soy free as well.
The original recipe uses pancetta an Italian bacon. Since pork belly meat is a no, no this was the first issue I had to address in how exactly to replace it to get that smokey, saltiness. My solution…. Mushrooms. I could also have used eggplant but didn’t have any on hand.
I chopped up some mushrooms into nice chunks and marinated them in a mixture of 1/4 cup braggs amino acids and 1/2 teaspoon hickory smoke. This was first things first so they could get nice and tasty by the time I was ready for them.
Next step, half a head of cauliflower and a broccoli crown. Cut. Tossed in a little olive oil and a pinch of sea salt. Roasted in the oven at 400 degrees until slightly brown/caramelized.
While this is all going on, I’ve got a pot of water coming to a boil in order to cook my gluten free pasta to just undercooked. The package says 15 minutes, I cooked it for 12. I use tinkyada pasta.
Now. The Sauce!
1 cup raw cashews
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 cup water
A dash of sea salt
Blended in the Vitamix or which ever blender you own until ingredients become a smooth sauce.
Heat up a deep pan. Add 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil and saute the mushrooms about five minutes. Add sauce. Reduce heat to simmer.
Then theres the question of the bread crumbs. I always make my own and save the ends of our gluten free bread for this exact purpose.
In my Vitamix dry container I took four ends of the Food For Life brown rice bread. Toasted it. Broke it into pieces into the blender container and then spun it into crumbs. I then added two tablespoons dried oregano and dried parsley. A quick spin and it was ready to go.
By this point the broccoli and cauliflower should be ready as well as your pasta. I then added 1 tablespoon Earth Balance Soy Free Butter to the oven safe dish my veggies cooked in so that the complete meal would not stick. Add the pasta and the sauce with the sautéed mushrooms.
You can add a little more water if the sauce thickens up too much which a cashew sauce tends to do. Top with the bread crumbs and toss back in the oven for about ten minutes or until the bread crumb topping turns golden brown.
This ended up being everything this prego was hoping it would be! Thanks to Curtis Stone for the fantastic idea!