Dinner fresh from Tatooine…

or Mac and Cheese veggie style

Why do so many vegetarian recipes sound like they come from a planet you only ever heard of in a movie?  Seriously? What the hell is methi-matar-malai?

My family recently decided to stop eating meat (not cheese and eggs don’t be ludicrous).  We all did it for different reasons.  I wanted to lose some weight, my husband is concerned about the environment, and my older son got dared into it.  The little one would be happy with a steady diet of yogurt and grapes.  So here we are two months in (for them, 7 months for me) and doing great! I feel healthier than I have in along time and I have no desire to eat meat (the guys decided on a once monthly cheat night ’cause they miss burgers and such).  I have taken to running past the meat section at the local food-o-rama cause I can’t even really stand the look of it anymore. Finding new proteins has been an interesting search and we are weeding out the things that are new and different in a good way (lentils, tofu) from the things that just ain’t right (seitan).   The hardest part of the whole thing is coming up with interesting things to eat that don’t feel like we are eating salad every night.  So of course I’m all over the google thing looking for recipes.  My husband is a very creative cook and since we have made the switch he has risen to the challenge and his results have yielded very few duds. I, on the other hand am perfecting the art of vegetable mush.  Add some rice and voila! Dinner.  I would really like to find some vegetarian recipes that resemble old fashioned American food or at least don’t require ingredients that I can’t find at the food-o-rama.  Grocery excursions that include more than one store cut into the time I spend screwing up my latest sewing project.  So far the things I’ve made that have come out the best are the ones that I have always made but now have tweaked vegetarian style.

I learned to make home made mac and cheese from Rachel Ray’s recipe for butternut squash mac and cheese.  It is so good and you can hardly even tell there is squash in there.  But of course since it’s me I couldn’t follow the instructions so over the years is has morphed quite a bit.  When we were still eating meat I added chunks of chicken or sausage or whatever happened to be on sale that week along with squash or spinach or zucchini or (yep) whatever else was on sale.  The basic recipe stays the same and pretty much always comes out good.  Now that we are veg heads, I needed to get rid of the meat I was adding and get rid of the chicken stock that was making the cheese saucy. AND, I wanted it to be a complete(ish) meal without having to try and get the kids to eat a salad on the side.  So here you have it, vegetarian mac and cheese Angie style:

2 boxes Quinoa Pasta: I like the elbows the best but any of them will work

1/2 large onion chopped fine

2 tablespoons Olive oil

2 tablespoons of butter

A small handful of the spices you like: RR uses thyme and that works good I’ve also used garlic, basil, various kinds of pepper, rosemary (was just so so)

2 big fat tablespoons of flour

1 big fat tablespoon of nutritional yeast

2 Cups of Vegetable stock or 1 cup stock and 1 cup milk or two cups milk

1 cup of a creamy dairy thing I like plain yogurt but cream, cream cheese, sour cream or half and half all work

2 cups of shredded cheese: Again, use what you like.  We are cheese heads so we always have lots of different kinds around the only ones I haven’t tried are the real moldy smelling ones like blue cheese but that’s just because I don’t like it.  But everything else I mix and match.

1/2 cup of shredded hard cheese like parmasan or asiago

1/2ish teaspoon nutmeg (weird I know but it really adds a nice kick to the whole thing)

salt and pepper

2-3 cups of what ever vegetables you like (if you are using squash add it to the cheese sauce instead of at the end.  Refer to RR’s recipe)

Here is where I admit that I suck at timing all this stuff so that it all goes together and nothing is over cooked.

So I have found that the best bet for me is to make up the cheese sauce ahead (it freezes really well I double or triple the recipe and have some for next time). When I’m ready to have it for dinner I do up the noodles (follow box directions), defrost the cheese sauce and saute the vegetables as is appropriate for the ones you have chosen so that they are almost done (the hot cheese will do the rest). When the noodles are done stir all of it into the cheese and you are ready to eat!

And now you are yelling “Hey what do I do with all that flour and cheese and crap?” This is the fun part:

Heat Olive oil and butter in a pan until the butter is melted.

Throw in the onion and spices and cook for 2ish minutes

Add the flour and nutritional yeast cook for another 2ish minutes stir so that it all makes a wet sort of mush.

Whisk in stock or milk

When it starts to thicken add creamy dairy thing stirring now and then til it starts to bubble.

Stir in cheeses until they melt completely

Add nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste

My big kid won’t eat the mac from a box after eating this.

P.S.  Clearly this dish is not low fat but no sugar plants were harmed in it’s making.

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