Do you love instant mac ‘n’ cheese, but are a little creeped out by the ingredient list? Bring on the insta-vera! This sauce has more of a primavera taste, rather than the nuclear cheese taste that most boxed macs have, but it fills that same creamy & convenient niche. This is a great dinner to prepare while camping, since it’s so easy and satisfying.
(For the powder:)
1 cup raw cashews (not roasted/salted)
1 cup nutritional yeast
1/4 cup oat flour
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1 tablespoon paprika
2 teaspoons powdered mustard
3 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
(For preparing the meal:)
1 cup of your pre-mixed powder
3 cups unsweetened soy milk (or other veggie/nut milk)
8 oz pasta
Veggies of choice, such as tomatoes, peas, squash, etc.
Servings: Preparing this amount of sauce/pasta makes a big dinner for two very hungry humans, or else a light dinner for 3-4 people. The powder recipe generates about 3 cups of powder, so it’s enough for 2-3 of these meals. The powder can survive in your pantry for months, but you’ll probably eat it all before then!
Frozen peas: I thought that I detested peas, until I learned that I had actually been cooking them incorrectly, and that I was slandering these delicious veggies out of pure ignorance. The trick with peas is not to cook them at all — you just want to defrost them. Peas that are overcooked will have a wrinkly surface texture, an overly sweet taste, and a toughness to them. Correctly prepared peas will have a smooth surface, a taste that’s as green as it is sweet, and a slight crunchiness. To achieve that in this recipe, I keep the peas frozen and only toss them in at the very end, when everything is getting stirred together. My apologies, peas!
Recipe: This recipe was adapted from Miyoko’s Well-Crafted Macaroni and Cheese Mix recipe. Miyoko is a badass. She makes an array of handcrafted artisan plant-based cheeses, which many stores now carry. If you find some, try it! We may or may not have an entire “cheese drawer” in our fridge devoted to Miyoko’s stuff.
For the powder:
Put all the powder ingredients in a food processor, and keep processing until you achieve a very fine powder.
Basically, the cashew pieces won’t ‘melt’ any further once you stir them into the sauce, so you want to make sure that you don’t have any gritty or chunky pieces in there. If you’ve been processing for a long time and you’re still seeing a few big cashew chunks, just pluck them out and eat them! :)
For preparing the meal:
Choose a pasta that has a shape/ridges that will catch the sauce well. Cook your pasta per package instructions.
If you’re on the fence about whether the pasta is done, it’s better to under-cook it a little — everything will get mixed together and warmed up at the end, so the pasta will cook a tiny bit more at that stage.
Prepare your veggies: slice your tomatoes, cut and sautée tough veggies like squash, etc. All the veggies will get dumped in together at the end, so you want to get them in ready-to-eat mode.
Once you have your pasta and veggie components ready, it’s sauce time!
Put the powder and soy milk in a large pot and set heat to medium. Start stirring. At the beginning, this process seems hopeless… your sauce is lumpy and runny. But fear not! Just keep stirring, stabbing at clumps to break them up, and scraping the bottom of the pot to keep it from getting stuck or burnt.
After about five minutes, the sauce will magically start to thicken, and you will regain your faith in humanity. Keep stirring until it reaches a thick, creamy texture.
Now dump everything in and stir. Cook just long enough to warm everything up, and then you’re ready to serve!