10-Ingredient Vegan Eggplant Parmesan Mac & Cheese

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2016

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BathingandthesinglegirlCover

vromans back

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Honest to God – this might be the most fucking delicious vegan meal I have ever made!  Seriously!  And to think it only came together because I had a fridge full of random leftovers & ingredients that I needed to be done with.  I had a package of Tofutti American cheese, several slices of their mozzarella cheese (both of which I totally shit-talked in my vegan cheese review) & some leftover pasta.  Oh – and two Chinese eggplants.

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I actually had this selection of vegan cheeses – seen above.  I opted to use the individual slices first because 1) they were getting old and 2) I thought this dish would make better use of (read: mask) their less than fabulous flavor.  Ultimately – I did use some of the other two cheeses, as well.  The result is AMAZING!  You can use whatever vegan cheeses you prefer but you are going to need about a pound of various cheeses – before all is said & done.

I used Chinese eggplant & I recommend them because they are less bitter & carry less moisture than regular eggplant.

I used nutritional yeast but a vegan Parmesan would also work.  Or use neither.

This takes a few steps but all are simple & the result is a decadent feast that nobody would ever guess was vegan – at least with this particular combination of cheeses.  I find some vegan cheeses taste more fake than others – so – the brands you use will matter – but I am certain lots of other brands would be just as yummy – especially the Field Roast Chao cheeses – my favorite of the vegan cheeses I have tried.

Whatever you do – get it together to make this – at least once.  It really is killer!

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10-Ingredient Vegan Eggplant Parmesan Mac & Cheese

Feeds 4-6 depending on appetites

INGREDIENTS

4+ cups or so of cooked pasta

2 Chinese eggplant (or other variety) – sliced 1/2″ thick

1 cup bread crumbs

1/4 cup nutritional yeast (or vegan Parmesan)

1 TBS dry parsley

8 oz (or 12 individual slices) vegan American or cheddar cheese (or a mix) – PLUS SOME  EXTRA – just in case

4 oz (or 6 individual slices) vegan mozzarella – PLUS SOME  EXTRA – just in case

(Extra grated vegan cheese to top the casserole – one that melts would be prettiest)

2 – 3 cups unsweetened vegan milk

1 1/2 – 2 cups pasta sauce (I used Rao’s Arrabbiata)

Basil or parsley (or both) – chopped for garnish

Olive oil

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 375 degrees.

Mix the bread crumbs, nutritional yeast & dry parsley in a bowl.  Put about 1/2 cup milk in another bowl.  Heat some olive oil in a frying pan.  Dunk the eggplant rounds in the milk & then through the breadcrumbs and drop into the hot oil.  They should brown pretty quickly.  Flip & brown the other side.  Put on a cooking sheet & into the oven while you repeat the process until all the eggplant is cooked.  You will likely need to wipe out the burnt breadcrumbs & add more oil with each batch.

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In a stock pot, melt the American and/or cheddar cheese.   Add vegan milk in small increments until it becomes creamy.   Stir in the pasta.  At this point – I decided it needed more cheese so I added two slices of this cheese (below) and a bit more milk & cooked it until it looked wet & yummy & creamy.   I am not giving exact directions as to the cheese-milk-pasta ratio because different cheeses might have more or less moisture – and everyone has a different idea of how wet mac & cheese should be.    I would suggest going a little wet – as the pasta & eggplant will absorb it & you won’t have a dry dish.

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Look at that up there!!!!  Doesn’t that look just ridiculous?!  It was all I could do not to just start shoving it in my face.  But I used considerable will power & continued with the recipe.

So – when you get your pasta-cheese-milk ratio to where it looks creamy but still a bit wet (so it won’t dry out in cooking) – take it off the flame.

Grease a casserole pan & layer half the eggplant on the bottom.

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Add another layer of eggplant with the rest of the slices & top with pasta sauce.

In the same pan you melted the cheese in – melt the mozzarella & pour it over your casserole & pop the pan into the oven.

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At this point – I took my dogs for a walk – COMPLETELY forgetting I had this in the oven.  I think it needed 30-45 minutes in the 375 oven – but it got way more than that.  Don’t burn yours.  I kinda did.   Look – not so pretty.

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So – in an effort to make it pretty again – I grated some of that cheese above onto it & popped it back into the oven for about ten minutes.  As you can see – it did little to make it prettier (that cheese did not want to melt) – but when I scooped it onto plates – it looked & SMELLED amazing!

So – maybe do not burn yours & it will be prettier but nobody needs to see it before it hits the plate, anyway.

So – scoop some onto plates & garnish with parsley and/or basil.  I swear – this will fool people out of suspecting it is vegan.  So yummy & comforting!

Waste no time & devour it!

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Macaroni & Cheese for Everyone You Know & Leftovers, too!

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2012

Last night – I had to feed a group of folks and I wasn’t certain of the head count.  One possibility was that 25+ people would show up & expect to leave full.  One reality is that I wanted to do this on a budget.  I ended up making etouffee, red beans and rice & mac-n-cheese.  This mac & cheese recipe produced a MASSIVE amount of decadent pasta.  I fed 18 people with it (remember there were other dishes served, too), sent several people home with some & still have more in the fridge that I will likely not get through.  It is pretty delicious, though.  Next time you have a lotta people to feed – consider this easy & cost effective recipe.

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Macaroni & Cheese for Everyone You Know & Leftovers, too!

PREHEAT OVEN TO 350 DEGREES

INGREDIENTS

8 TBS flour

1 TBS dry mustard

1 TBS ground pepper

1 tsp cayenne pepper

4 tsp salt

8 TBS butter

2 bunches scallions, chopped

6 cups milk

6 cups (or more) grated cheddar cheese (or other cheese blend)

16 cups cooked pasta (about 3 or 4 lbs of dry pasta) – macaroni or shells or penne – your call

1 can Campbell’s Cream of Celery Soup

1 can Campbell’s Cheddar Cheese Soup

1 can diced green chiles

1 12 oz can sliced jalapenos (jarred always seem too salty for me) – CHOPPED

Several fresh jalapenos – seeded & sliced (optional)

1 pint sour cream (optional)

1 cup plain breadcrumbs (optional)

yellow food coloring (optional)

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cook the macaroni until just done.  Drain & set aside.

Combine flour, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper & dry mustard in a bowl.  Melt the butter over medium heat.  Add the chopped scallions & saute until soft.  Add the flour mixture & saute this paste a minute or two.  A little at a time – whisk in the milk.  The paste should become a thick, creamy stock.  Whisking all the milk in without making this blend too watery might take up to 10-15 minutes – so be patient – and stir constantly.  Once all the milk is absorbed & you have a thick sauce, remove this from the heat & stir in the cans of celery & cheddar soup, the green chiles & the chopped canned jalapenos.  Stir in all but a cup of the grated cheese.  Squeeze in some yellow food coloring – if you are using it – until the mix reaches the shade you feel best with.  Reserve a cup or two of this newly blended yellowy goodness & stir the rest in with the cooked pasta.  Grease your cooking container – whether you are using one or several casserole dishes.  I have this awesome 7 quart, Martha Stewart cast iron thing and I love it!  I got it on Ebay – cheap.  Anyway – this recipe made more mac & cheese than could fit in that – so I cooked the rest in a regular sized casserole dish.

Pour the mac & cheese blend into your casserole dish(es) and then pour the reserved melted cheese on top.  If it seems too dry for some reason – feel free to pour some extra milk over the whole thing.  Sprinkle the reserved cup of grated cheese on top & the bread crumbs.  Placed sliced, fresh jalapenos on the very top.  Bake this – COVERED – for 30 minutes or so at 350 & take it out of the oven.  If you want the bread crumbs browned – remove the cover about 10 minutes in.  I preferred that the mac & cheese not get too dry – but this is a personal call.

I added more diced jalapenos – both fresh & canned – but I like things spicy.  I also ground fresh pepper over it.  Let the mac & cheese sit for 5-10 minutes & then serve it.

Cheers~

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2012