Vegan Mac and Cheese

I don't think its hyperbolic to say that vegan mac and cheese is the elusive holy grail for vegan chefs (well, maybe a little). So many attempts, some valiant, others not so much, and many a legend of good recipes. (Don't believe me? Just Google "vegan mac and cheese")

Sure, we can always enjoy Sticky Fingers awesome mac variation; as well as Everlasting Life Cafe, but I wanted to make this at home! For the past month or so, I have been attempting to create a version that was worthy of you, my dear VegInDC readers. After three or four attempts, I think I have found a recipe that I would like to submit to you.

I adapted this from this recipe that Anne ever so subtly placed on my Facebook wall. (Note that we made this GF, but it is just as easy to make it "gluten full"--just use regular wheat pasta and breadcrumbs.)

1 package gluten free macaroni (we prefer Tinkyada brand )
Salt for boiling water
4 tablespoons gluten free breadcrumbs (we used Glutino)
2 tablespoons +1/3 cup Earth Balance butter, divided
1 shallot, peeled and roughly chopped
1 cup yellow potatoes, peeled and chopped (I used one large potato)
1/4 cup carrots, peeled and chopped (about two carrots)
1/3 cup onion, peeled and chopped (one small or 1/2 a medium onion)
1 cup water
1/4 cup raw cashews
2 teaspoons sea salt
3 cloves of garlic, peeled
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (you can find in the bulk section of your grocery store)
sprinkle of paprika

Cook the pasta in salted boiling water according to the package's directions. Drain and set aside. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Prepare the breadcrumb topping by cutting/mixing breadcrumbs with two tablespoons of earth balance. Set aside.

In a small pot, combine chopped vegetables and water, and bring to a boil. Cover the pan and simmer for 15 minutes, or until vegetables are very soft.

In the blender (or a food processor), combine the cashews, salt, garlic, 1/3 cup earth balance, mustard, lemon juice, black pepper, cayenne and softened vegetables and cooking water process until smooth.

In a large bowl (or the pot you cooked the pasta in), toss the cooked pasta and blended "cheese" sauce until completely coated. Spread mixture into a 9″ x 12″ baking dish, sprinkle with prepared breadcrumbs, and dust with paprika. 

Bake for 30 minutes or until the cheese sauce is bubbling and the top has turned golden brown.