Wednesday, October 17, 2012

On My Hearth: Cajun Mac and "Cheese"

We are spending one more night in Jacksonville, then back home to Ormond Beach for a while.  I don't mind telling you, I'll be happy to see the last of this RV Park. I shouldn't complain, it hasn't been all bad, but the lack of open space is wearing on me.  Loki and I both need a nice long walk in a setting that doesn't include highway noise, mud puddles, and gravel driveways lined with motorhomes.

Not wanting to purchase too much food that will just be unpacked tomorrow, I searched the pantry for dinner inspiration. I found a box of mini wagon-wheel shaped pasta...hmm...a quick search led me to this Food Network recipe.  It didn't take much effort to vegan-ize it, just a few easy substitutions. I also reduced the amount of oil, found that 1 tablespoon was more than enough to keep the sausage & veggies from sticking without adding quite as much fat.



Cajun Mac and Cheese

Ingredients:

  • Kosher salt
  • 12 ounces wagon-wheel pasta
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 ounces vegan sausage, diced (I used Tofurky Italian flavor)
  • 2 bunches scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 bell pepper (red or green), chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Cajun spice blend (I used Emeril's Blast!)
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups dairy-free milk (I used Almond Breeze)
  • 8 ounces dairy-free cheese substitute, shredded or cubed (I used Daiya)

Directions"

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 1 minute less than the label directs. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking water, then drain the pasta. 

Meanwhile, combine the olive oil and sausage in a large skillet over high heat and cook, stirring, until the sausage starts to brown, about 2 minutes. Stir in the scallions and bell pepper and cook until the vegetables are slightly soft, about 3 more minutes. Add the Cajun spice and flour and cook, stirring, 2 more minutes. Gradually whisk in the milk and continue whisking until the sauce is thick and smooth, about 5 more minutes. 

Add the pasta, cheese and reserved cooking water to the skillet. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook, tossing to coat the pasta in the sauce and melt the cheese, about 1 minute. 



The verdict: Fabulous! This mac & "cheese" is quite hearty and makes a lot of food, would definitely say more than 4 servings, more like 6 for my family.  The sausage and Cajun spice provide a nice kick without being too spicy. I will definitely make this one again!


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