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Creamy Baked Pasta

January 12

I bought this package of nutritional yeast awhile ago, and have been itching to try it out ever since.

Nutritional yeast is deactivated yeast, so it is not the active baking yeast one uses for breads. It is grown specifically for its nutritional value. And it has an impressive roster of nutrients and vitamins! Especially rich in B vitamins and protein, it is a staple in vegetarian and vegan diets.

I decided to try out Angela’s Vegan Mac n’ Cheese recipe over at Oh She Glows. I also took elements from Ashley’s adaptation of this recipe on The Edible Perspective. I didn’t follow either versions to the letter, mostly because I didn’t have almond milk on hand, so my version isn’t even vegan. Whoops. But the result was a very tasty, creamy baked pasta that my family loved! It has a bit of a cheesy flavour, but it’s obviously not exactly like what you’d expect mac n’ cheese to be, especially in texture.

But I totally enjoyed it, and am so happy to have found this recipe. I actually looove creamy pastas, but I never have them anymore. And it’s not just cuz they are not good for my waistline, but because my digestive system can’t handle the richness of all that cream and cheese. I can’t even drink 2% milk without getting an upset stomach (I have to stick to skim). I have tried some low-fat versions of alfredo sauces, but have never found a satisfying one…until now! I think the cashews and nutritional yeast add a wonderful depth and richness to this sauce that makes me not miss the cream and cheese.

This is what I used:

  • 1 medium yukon gold potato, diced
  • 1 medium carrot, diced
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 300 g whole grain fusilli
  • 1.5 C raw, unsalted cashews
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1.75 C skim milk
  • 1 TB non-hydrogenated margarine
  • 1/4 C lemon juice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 TB nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1 heaping tsp yellow mustard
  • 1.5 tsp ground oregano
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 C frozen green peas (optional)
  • 1 slice whole grain bread
  • 1/2 tsp paprika

 

Preheat oven to 350°.

Put potato, carrot, and onion in a medium pot with enough water to just cover the vegetables.

Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 15 minutes, until veggies are tender. Most of the liquid will have been absorbed by this point. If there is still liquid in the pot, uncover and cook a further few minutes until it’s mostly gone. Turn off heat and set aside.

Meanwhile, cook pasta according to directions on package, undercooking it by about a minute so that it is just slightly firmer than how you generally like it (as it will continue to cook in the oven). Drain and put back into the pot.

While pasta is cooking, prepare the breadcrumb topping by processing the slice of bread in the food processor for a few seconds. Remove from food processor and set aside.

Process the cashews in the same way until they have a similar texture to the breadcrumbs, then add the garlic, milk, margarine, lemon juice, salt, nutritional yeast, mustard, oregano, and pepper. Give the food processor a good whirl until it is all combined and smooth. Then add the potato/carrot/onion mixture and process until smooth.

The sauce will be somewhat thick and super tasty!

Pour the sauce into the pot with the drained pasta. Add the frozen peas (if using) and stir to mix. Transfer to a sprayed casserole dish and sprinkle with paprika. Don’t be alarmed if there seems to be a lot of sauce; it will get absorbed in the oven.

 

Does that not look totally dreamy?? 🙂 I think next time, I might skip the oven and breadcrumbs and just eat it as a creamy alfredo-like pasta.

But if you want a baked pasta, then pop it into the oven for 30 minutes. Then top with the breadcrumbs and place under the broiler for about 3 minutes or until the top is golden brown and crispy. Watch carefully that it doesn’t burn!

 

Mmmm. 🙂 Yay for creamy pastas that my stomach won’t protest!

(On a side note, those last two photos were taken tonight, while the rest were all taken during the daytime. What a difference in quality and lighting! I wish I could’ve cooked the dish completely during the daytime so I could have better photos, but I wanted it freshly baked for this evening’s dinner. So I cooked it up to the point right before the oven, then popped it into the fridge. Then I jetted off to work and my mom was the one who finished the oven and breadcrumb steps tonight. Yummy, fresh dinner, but crappy photos. Ah well.)

 

Posted by on January 12, 2011 in Kitchen Adventures

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