good eats: Mac & Shews

Photo Cred: Isa Chandra (Post Punk Kitchen)
Because I've been hearing a lot, reading a lot, and seeing a lot about plant strong diets, this recipe on Isa Chandra's blog, Post Punk Kitchen, caught my eye. Now when I say diet, I'm not referring to the 21-day fix, a point system or calorie counting. Diet, for this purpose means: what you consume on a long-term daily basis. While this recipe does not call for any plants, it is vegan.

Big Red worked today, so after walking and giving a bath to the best doggie in the world, I headed out to my local Whole Foods. That place intimidates me. Scares me. Walking through their organic recycled doors makes me feel somehow not cool enough or hip enough to be there. I dye my hair, with chemicals, I'm not the best recycler, and I pretty much drive my car everywhere. Forgive me. Anyhow, after seeing this recipe online, I knew Whole Foods would have everything I needed which included some nutritional yeast. I also wanted to pick up some tahini for baba ghanoush. Yeah, baby. Look at me getting my exotic cooking freak on!

The "shews" part of the recipe comes from cashews. Cashews, veggie broth, and believe it or not - sauerkraut - make up the base of the "cheese." Throw in some salt, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, turmeric and pepper, and you've got yourself a pretty darn good looking sauce.

But the true test, as always: Big Red.

The dish was already in the oven when he got home. I asked him to take it out when the timer went off, as I was going to hop in the shower. When I got out, he was watching TV and he asked, "what kind of cheese did you use?" My meager response: cheddar. Okay, I know it was a lie, but I didn't want to give away what was really making up this faux classic bit of Americana. I didn't want to deal with an eye-roll or too loud of an exhale. I did happen to top the recipe with a mixture of breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, and about a quarter cup of shredded jack cheese. Now I know this disqualified the recipe as vegan, but hey, I've got Big Red. He isn't exactly all gung-ho about getting rid of dairy and meat. We spooned out our separate bowls. I immediately thought it was quite good. Not exactly cheesy in the Kraft Macaroni 'n Cheese kind of way, but beautifully nutty and plenty hearty.

Big Red looked perplexed with each bite. I asked how it tasted and he said it didn't taste very cheesy. I spilled the beans. He laughed and said he knew something was up especially after looking at it. The color and texture just didn't match up. Okay, fine. Touche. It's not mac 'n cheese. He said it was good and that he'd eat it again if I made it, but he didn't like that it was called Mac & Shews. Big Red claimed it set you up for disappointment. I challenged him to rename the dish.

Cashewserole. That's what we'll be calling it in this household. I would definitely recommend this recipe, but be forewarned: it is not cheesy in the way we've come to understand the connotation of mac'n cheese. It holds it's own and does a fabulous job of it. Just don't try to dupe your semi-anti vegetarian/vegan husband.

Click here for Isa Chandra's recipe on her fabulous blog: Post Punk Kitchen.

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