No Cheese Mac ‘n Cheese
No Cheese Mac ’n Cheese
12 oz Yukon gold potato (1 large), cut into small chunks
4 oz carrots (2 med), cut into chunks
2 oz ripe red tomato (I often use cherry tomatoes for this dish.)
1 medium roasted red pepper
1 medium garlic clove, smashed and allowed to rest for 10 – 15 minutes)
2 oz red onion or shallot
1/4 cup lemon juice (freshly squeezed), 1 to 1 1/2 lemons
1/2 cup raw cashew nuts
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
16 oz package elbow macaroni noodles
Always crush garlic first and allow to rest for 10-15 minutes before heating.
Fill a large saucepan or dutch oven with water. Cover and bring to a boil.
Peel onion, scrub potatoes, juice lemon, peel carrots and roast peppers (See Time For Change for instructions on roasting red peppers.) I like to roast a lot of peppers at one time and freeze them individually so I can just pull them out of the freezer when I need one for a recipe. It’s best to do this in the summer when peppers are cheap.
Transfer potatoes to a medium saucepan with about 1 1/2 cups water. Cook for 2-3 minutes, then add the carrots. Continue to cook at a low boil until fork tender. Strain, reserving water in a heat-resistant glass measuring cup. You’ll need this liquid later.
When the water in the large saucepan boils, stir in macaroni and cook, stirring occasionally to prevent clumping, for 6 to 7 minutes or until the pasta is still slightly chewy (al dente). You definitely do not want to overcook pasta until it tastes mushy. Drain and set aside.
In a high-speed blender add all remaining ingredients (cashews, lemon, garlic, onion, tomato, roasted red pepper, carrots, potatoes, and salt) until smooth and creamy. Add as much of the potato water you need to achieve a creamy cheese-like texture. In a high-speed blender like a VitaMix, the “cheese” sauce will heat up and thicken as you blend it.
If you use a regular blender you may have to do this in two batches. Start with the cashews and lemon with a little of the potato water and blend until creamy. Then add the remaining ingredients. Transfer back to the medium saucepan and cook on medium-low, stirring frequently with a whisk to prevent scorching. This will thicken as the sauce becomes hot. Again, thin to the desired consistency with the remaining potato water.
In a large mixing bowl, fold the cheese sauce into the macaroni. Enjoy!