My life has a superb cast but I can't figure out the plot.
~ Ashleigh Brilliant

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Smoky-Freaky Mac-n-Cheesy!

Okay, I know my title for this recipe doesn't exactly rhyme, but smoky and freaky and cheesy all belong in the name for this awesome vegan mac-n-cheese!

I found the original recipe years ago at Vegan Freak, and I'd link to it now but can no longer find it there, despite multiple searches all over their web site. Maybe it was on a forum thread that's since been closed, dunno; it's just been too long. But to someone at Vegan Freak goes all the glory for this dish, to which I've made a few changes. Here is my version...

Smoky-Freaky Mac-n-Cheesy

1 1/2 pounds organic macaroni or shell pasta (preferably whole grain)
1 1/2 cups organic unsweetened soy milk
1 cup water
1/4 - 1/3 cup tamari or soy sauce
1 1/2 cups nutritional yeast
3 1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp (or more, to taste) smoked paprika
1 TBSP garlic powder
1 tsp sea salt
1/4 block of firm (not silken) tofu
1 cup vegan organic creamy butternut squash soup OR 1 cup puréed butternut squash
Dried breadcrumbs for topping (optional)
Additional paprika for topping (optional)

Pre-heat oven to 350ºF

Cook the pasta.

Put the remaining ingredients into a 7 or 8-cup capacity food processor and blend until smooth.

When the pasta is cooked, drain it and put in a 3-qt (2.8 liter) baking dish. Pour the "cheese" sauce over the pasta. Sprinkle with additional paprika and cover with dried bread crumbs, if desired.

Bake uncovered until the top looks slightly browned and crispy, about 15 minutes.

The original recipe called for a cup of oil (eeeek!), so I've always substituted it with either Pacific or Imagine brand organic Creamy Butternut Squash soup. You can also use 1 cup pureéd butternut squash. Both work great and impart a nice cheddary color (along with all those good nutrients!)

The original recipe also called for a tablespoon of salt. You'll have to play with the tamari and salt amounts to suit your taste, but use caution as it can easily get too salty. I find the tamari imparts an important flavor (gives it a tangy, extra-sharp cheddar taste), so I use more of it (closer to 1/3 cup) and cut back on the salt (to 1 tsp). You can always salt your portion after it's cooked and adjust the salt next time you make it. (If you use low-sodium tamari, that may affect the amount of salt you will want to add as well).

And finally, the original called for 1 TBSP regular paprika. I reduced that by 1/2 tsp and made up the difference with smoked paprika for a smoky cheddar flavor. I thought it could use more smoked paprika, but BW, who LOVES smoked paprika, thought it was perfect as is. So, let your own tastes guide you!

I often sprinkle paprika over the top of the pasta before baking it. And I do add the dried bread crumbs.

The pasta I love for this is Bionaturae Organic Chiocciole (shell) Pasta. It's stone ground, whole durum wheat pasta with a great texture, just perfect for mac-n-cheese. I've also tried whole grain spelt elbow macaroni in this, but much prefer the Bionaturae shell pasta. I use an entire package for this recipe.

This is really good hot, but it's awesome cold! It makes a big batch, but it's great as a leftover.


  1. Lalo,

    That looks really good! Thanks for the link in your comment on my post. I can't wait to try my hand at this.

    The original used a cup of oil, OMG. Thanks for lightening it up for us.

    talk to you later,

  2. Mmmm, it IS really good! :-)

    As for lightening it up, my pleasure! Just doing my part to end America's oil addiction! ;-) (Yeah, a cup of oil - GAK!)

  3. YUM! This looks so good. I love the addition of the butternut squash too. I'm going to have to try this soon!

  4. Oh, it IS good! It's one of my favorite comfort foods, and if it ever turns chilly here (sheesh!), I plan to make it pronto! I hope you'll try it and enjoy it - let me know what you think!

  5. I made this last night and it was DELICIOUS. I do have lots of leftovers, some of which I'm eating for breakfast.

    I have to say, it was a stroke of genius for you to replace the oil with the's a beautiful and delicious mac-cheeze style sauce. I didn't use the tofu but added some cauliflower, beans, and onions into the pasta mixture.

    I'll definitely be making this on a regular basis...I love the smoky twist on it.

    I'm still reading through your email...and will get back to you over the next day or so.

    Have a great weekend!

  6. Hey, Rose!

    You're eating leftovers of this for breakfast? You are a woman after my own heart! I've eaten the leftovers for breakfast so many times! :-) Have you tried it cold yet? I don't know what it would be like cold with beans and cauliflower in it, but since I like cooked beans and cauliflower cold too, I'm sure it would be mighty fine!

    I take credit for the idea of replacing the oil with the butternut squash soup, but it was a friend who had some cooked butternut squash on hand and used it in this instead. So I'm only half the genius behind this substitution. But thanks! :-)

    I've always used the tofu (figuring it's to thicken the sauce), but good to know it's optional. And isn't the smoked paprika just awesome in this? It takes it to a whole new level, as they say!

    So glad you tried it and really happy you loved it! Thanks for letting me know!

    Btw, after putting rain into the forecast for tomorrow, then also putting it in the forecast for Monday, then taking it out for Monday, then taking it out for tomorrow, and now putting it back in for tomorrow but not Monday, I'd say your spell has been wobbly but ultimately effective. :-) It's very Fallish here today... sunny but only 40º this morning when we took the dogs on a hike, and we had roses in our cheeks and a hankering for hot beverages when we got home! It warmed up but was sweatshirt weather in town, and now it's clouded up considerably. So I am baking organic garnet yams and tomorrow, at long last, BW is making his signature deep dish pizza! Yay!

    This has become more of an email than a comment, lol... thanks again for following up, and enjoy your leftovers! :-) xoxo


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  • THE HUMANE GARDENER ~ Nancy Lawson
  • THE WORLD WITHOUT US ~ Alan Weisman

There is still strong in our society the belief
that animals and the natural world have value
only insofar as they can be converted into revenue.
That nature is a commodity.
And that the American dream is one of unlimited consumption.
There are many of us, on the other hand,
who believe that animals and the natural world
have value by virtue of being alive.
That Nature is a community to which we belong
and to which we owe our lives.
And that the deeper American dream is one of unlimited compassion.

~John Robbins, "The Food Revolution"

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