This vegan mac and cheese is dressed in smoky chipotle-spiked cashew cheese sauce and served up with crispy roasted Brussels sprouts.
Is mac and cheese holiday food? It is to me! Most of my Christmas eves from childhood through my twenties were spent at my aunt’s house, and she always had mac and cheese on hand to satisfy my vegetarian appetite. It’s been a few years since I’ve spent Christmas eve at her house, and also a few years since I’ve eaten any kind of mac and cheese that’s made with actual cheese. So when I got my hands on a copy of The Superfun Times Vegan Holiday Cookbook by Isa Chandra Moskowitz, the vegan chipotle mac and cheese got my attention right away.
The recipe is actually meant to be a Superbowl recipe, which makes sense, but these days I usually spend Superbowl Sunday stocking up on groceries and home improvement supplies (you know, because nobody else is out and about), so I thought I’d have a go at the chipotle mac as a Christmas recipe.
The verdict: I’d totally eat this stuff for Christmas. Smoky chipotle peppers and creamy mac and cheese is quite the match made in heaven. And bonus: the Brussels sprouts totally look like little Christmas trees. Check it out, and make sure to point it out to any Brussels sprout hating kids you have in your life.
If you’re still looking for the perfect gift for that special vegan in your life, I can’t recommend the Superfun Times Vegan Holiday Cookbook enough. It contains quite the collection of no less than 250 (!) recipes, it’s beautiful, and because it’s not limited to just year end holidays, the loved one you gift it to will be able to use it all year long.
Chipotle Mac & Cheese with Roasted Brussels Sprouts
- 1 pound brussels sprouts, quartered
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup raw cashews, soaked in water for at least 2 hours and drained
- 1 cup vegetable broth, purchased or homemade
- 4 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, seeded (see Tip)
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
- 2 tablespoons chickpea miso or mellow white miso
- 8 ounces macaroni
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper for the brussels. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil over high heat for the pasta.
Toss the quartered brussels sprouts with the olive oil and a big pinch of salt. Transfer to the lined baking sheet and bake until lightly browned, about 18 minutes. No need to flip ’em.
Meanwhile, make the cheese sauce. In a blender, combine the cashews, vegetable broth, chipotles, garlic, yeast, miso, and a pinch of salt. Puree until completely smooth; this can take up to 5 minutes depending on the strength of your machine. Periodically stop the machine to keep it from overheating, and scrape down the sides of the blender jar with a rubber spatula to make sure you get everything.
When the pasta water comes to a boil, add the macaroni and cook according?to the package directions. Drain the macaroni in a colander and immediately return it to the pot and stir in the sauce. Place the pot over low heat and stir until the sauce is thickened a bit and everything is deliciously creamy, 3 minutes or so. Taste and adjust for salt, toss in the brussels sprouts, and serve!
Sometimes people forget that chipotles are still hot and can give you jalapeño hands if you touch the seeds. Use squares of plastic wrap to protect your fingers when handling them. Seed them by placing one flat on the cutting board, splitting it down the center with a paring knife, and using that knife to scrape out the seeds. Immediately scrape the seeds into the sink and wash them away, to prevent any further contact, then place the seeded chipotle directly in the blender. The reason we’re removing the seeds, in case you’re wondering, is that the seeds are really spicy. With the seeds removed, you can use more chipotles, thus getting more smoky flavor without all the heat. If you prefer a completely nonspicy version, use 1 roasted red pepper (homemade or from a jar) in place of the 4 chipotles.