This is my tweaked version of VegNews magazine's recipe. (FYI: VegNews, in addition to being fun and lovely and award-winning, has consistently excellent recipes.) Serves 4-6.
- 8 ounces macaroni or other fun little pasta shape
- 3 slices of good bread, torn into large pieces
- 1/2-1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 tablespoons + 1/3 cup Earth Balance
- 2 tablespoons chopped shallots
- 1 cup peeled, chopped potatoes
- 1/4 cup chopped carrots
- 1/3 cup chopped onion
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup sliced onion
- 1/4 cup raw cashews
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika, plus extra for sprinkling
- 1/4 -1/3 cup nutritional yeast* (highly recommended, but optional)
- Cook the macaroni in plenty of salted boiling water just until al dente. Drain pasta and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
- In a food processor, whir the bread, garlic powder, and 2 tablespoons margarine to a medium-fine texture. Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a saucepan, add shallots, potatoes, carrots, 1/3 cup onion, and water, and bring to a boil. Cover the pan and simmer for 15 minutes, or until vegetables are very soft.
- While those are simmering, fry the 1/2 cup sliced onions in olive oil. Set aside.
- In a blender, process the cashews, salt, garlic, rest of the margarine, mustard, lemon juice, black pepper, and cayenne. Add softened vegetables and their cooking water to the blender along with the nutritional yeast and process until perfectly velvety smooth.
- In a large bowl, toss the cooked pasta and blended cheese sauce until completely coated. Spread mixture into a casserole dish, top with fried onions, sprinkle with breadcrumbs, and dust with paprika. Bake for 30 minutes or until the cheese sauce is bubbling and the top is gently browned.
* In case you don't know about this wonder food, nutritional yeast is a cheesy, flaky condiment that is packed with protein, B vitamins, calcium, and other minerals. (It's often in a shaker at cool movie theaters because it's so great on greasy popcorn—the flavor is wonderful when it's mixed with fatty stuff.) Red Star is the best brand.