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Author Notes: One of my clearest food memories from early childhood is that of a baked macaroni and cheese casserole. My family did not eat such things, a fact which I regarded with resentment at the time but have grown to appreciate over the years. But there are perks to visiting relatives and sometimes those perks are cheese-covered. One sunny Florida day, my father's cousin took something from her oven the likes of which I had never seen. Surely my memories have been exaggerated over time, but this bubbly, cheesy, bread crumb-topped thing...I remember how it smelled and can picture it now, majestically glowing like so many gold bricks. WHAT WAS MACARONI AND CHEESE CASSEROLE AND WHY HAD I NEVER EATEN IT BEFORE??? That was the moment our love affair began, macaroni and cheese and I. In all of the intervening years, we have stayed true to each other. We even survived VEGANISM together; our bond is stronger than oak. —Slow Club Cookery
- 1 cup raw cashews + water for soaking
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 lb dried pasta of your choosing. I prefer rice (for gluten-free) or whole wheat elbows.
- 1-2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil (optional)
- 1/2 cup unseasoned breadcrumbs (optional) *not GF
- scallions/ crushed red pepper for garnish
- Soak raw cashews in cool water for 1 hour. Drain soaked cashews and place them in a food processor or blender. Add nutritional yeast, salt, turmeric, pepper and pulse a few times to combine. Add lemon juice and water. Blend until completely smooth.
- Prepare pasta according to instructions. Drain and combine with cashew cheese. Add water, a tablespoon at a time, if sauce seems too thick.
- Serve as is, with garnishes of your choosing
- or Spread prepared mac and cheese into a greased loaf pan. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes, or until top is lightly browned. Garnish and serve.