Last year my wife and I had such a great time at the The Philly Mac Down, the first vegan mac and cheese contest organized by V Marks The Shop, that when they announced this year’s competition, Philly Mac Down 2 – Vegan Boogaloo we decided to enter and toss our cheesy hat into the ring!
We both loved mac and cheese in our pre-vegan days and have had some good vegan versions but none like the thick creamy warm hug of a comfort food like we remember. So we set out on our recipe testing. Karen was making some good versions using potato, carrot, onions, nutritional yeast, and cashews as the base of the cheese sauce. But we both felt we needed a little more of a cheesy boost. Through some more trial and errors, and a LOT of carbo loading, we finally settled on the addition of miso paste (a fermented soy paste) and shredding a block of Daiya Medium Cheddar Style Farm House Block.
Armed with our honed mac and cheese dish, we arrived at the Mac Down. We were really excited to be there, as there was some strong competition-including last year’s winner, LJ Steinig. When the competition started, there was a long line of taste testers. Apparently we aren’t the only vegans who love mac and cheese! We had so much fun chatting with the visitors to our booth, as well as to the other competitors. We managed to sneak out and taste some of the other dishes. I will never get tired of tasting mac and cheese.
We weren’t really expecting to win anything, since there were 15 other competitors with some really good offerings. When they announced that we won People’s Choice, we were super excited!! We were REALLY surprised when we also got awarded second place from the judges. We’re so glad everyone enjoyed our mac and cheese. We had a lot of fun tweaking the recipe, and I think it came out pretty good, if I do say so myself!
I hope you like it as much as we do! This is pretty much a weekly staple around here. Let me know what you think in the comments, and share any modifications you may have made.
- 4 gold potatoes *
- 2 carrots *
- ½ small onion *
- 1 c cashews
- 1 c nutritional yeast
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 block Daiya Farmhouse Cheddar Cheez
- 1 tsp white miso paste
- 1 c cashew milk
- 1 box macaroni
*I know this isn’t super exact, since potatoes, carrots and onions vary widely in size. Don’t lose too much sleep over this. I just go for medium size-ish. It’ll taste great, don’t worry!
Bring pot of water to a boil. Cut the potatoes and carrots into 1 inch pieces. Add potatoes to water, boil 2 minutes. Then, add carrots to water, boil 5 minutes. Then add onion to water and boil 7 minutes or until carrots and potatoes are soft (try piercing with a paring knife; when it slides in easily, they’re soft)
Add potatoes, carrots and onions to blender. Add in cashews, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, salt, Daiya (grated), miso, and cashew milk. If too thick add a little more cashew milk.
Pour over cooked pasta.
You can also casserole this. Place in casserole dish, cover top with panko bread crumbs and nutritional yeast. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. You can also broil the top a little after if you want it extra crisp.
***If you want to keep this really simple, you can just use the potatoes, carrots, onions, cashews, cashew milk, garlic powder and salt. You can also replace the cashew milk with the water that the veggies boiled in.
We usually have extra sauce left over, but don’t throw it away! You can use it for nachos, as a broccoli topping, on vegan tacos or cheesesteaks…the possibilities are endless!