Smokey Mac ‘n’ Cheese with Mushroom Bacon

Macaroni and cheese was never something I liked before I became vegan.  I found the cheesy sauce to be cloying and the whole dish was just overly filling. In fact cheesy white pasta sauces actually led me to think that I didn’t like pasta at all. A ridiculous thing to say.

However now that I can’t have the traditional version for obvious reasons I find that, actually, I kinda miss it.

In my version I have used potatoes to form the white sauce base. The smokey flavour has been achieved with smoked salt mushroom “bacon”, smoked cheese and just a drop of the fancifully named liquid smoke (Get your hands on some here).

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I know it’s not macaroni but I love these little grooved shapes!

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Cheeeeese

Serves 2-4 depending on your appetite!

Ingredients

5 chestnut mushrooms
1tsp smoked salt
1tbsp oil
1 small carrot
1 clove garlic
500g potatoes
3tbsp nutritional yeast (nooch)
120g of smoked vegan cheese
1-2 drops liquid smoke (not too much it will totally overpower it otherwise)
350g pasta shapes e.g. macaroni, conchiglie or I used radiatori
Small bunch of parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
Smoked paprika to serve (optional)

Method

In a small bowl mix the oil and smoked salt. Slice the mushrooms thinly and mix into the salt and oil until well coated. Lay them on a baking sheet spaced so that they don’t touch. Bake at 180°C for 15 minutes until slightly shrivelled and browned.

Peel the carrot and potatoes and chop into even pieces. Boil the vegetables until soft which should take about 10 minutes. Keep one cup of the starchy potato water to the side before draining the vegetables. To the potatoes and carrot add the reserved potato water, 1/2 a cup of cold water, garlic, liquid smoke, nooch and 50g of cheese and blend well until a thick, cheesy soup is formed.

Boil the pasta in plenty of boiling water until it is al dente then drain and put the pasta back in the pan. Mix in the cheese sauce and season to taste.  Chop the parsley saving a sprig for serving and mix in to the pasta along with half the mushrooms. Pour the pasta into a baking dish and top with the remaining mushrooms and the rest of the cheese. Bake in the oven at 180°C for 15-20 minutes until the cheese is melted, gooey and golden.

Serve your mac ‘n’ cheese straight from the oven garnished with the remaining parsley and a little smoked paprika if you like.

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