Total time: 30 minutes || Active time: 15 minutes
Chipotle Mac & Cheese! Okay? I probably don’t need to say anything else, you’re already rummaging through your pantry for a can of chipotles and some cashews to soak. Mac & Cheese is, after all, the ultimate comfort food. A box of macaroni might as well come with sweatpants, a cozy blanket and an entire season of Mad Men DVDs.
This version is creamy, of course, but also spicy and smoky. But what really sets it apart is how EASY it is. That’s ALL CAPS and throw in an italic EASY.
1) Boil some macaroni 2) Throw some stuff into the blender 3) Put it all together. 4) There you go. I roasted some brussel sprouts, too (as I do), but you can add any manner of veggie; steamed kale, grilled asparagus, sauteed zucchini…you get the picture. I do highly recommend the brussels, though, because they roast away effortlessly, and you are free to prepare everything else. Oh, and of course, they’re also super delicious.
The only thing that’s a little fussy is getting the seeds out of the chipotle. But follow my notes below and you shouldn’t have any problems.
Happy macking, everyone!
~ If you forgot to soak the cashews, have no fear. You can boil them for the same creamy effect, and still have this on the table in 30 minutes. Just submerge in boiling water for 15 minutes, drain, and proceed.
~ Sometimes people forget that chipotles are still HOT and can give you jalapeno hands if you touch the seeds. You can use small pieces of plastic wrap when handling. Seed them by placing one flat on the cutting board, splitting 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 and further contact, then place the seeded one into the blender, and repeat the process.
~ The reason we’re removing the seeds, in case you’re wondering, is that seeds are really spicy. With the seeds removed, you can use more chipotles, thus getting more smoky flavor without all the heat.
~ Update! If you’d like to make this was blanched, slivered or sliced almonds, go for it! People have been reporting back that it works well.
~ For a non-spicy version, try one roasted red pepper (homemade or from a jar) in place of the 4 chipotles.
~ I love a milder miso here. I used chickpea, but mellow white would be nice, too. The kind of miso you use will determine the saltiness, and so I suggest salting to taste before and after adding it to the macaroni.
8 oz macaroni (gluten-free, whole wheat, or any type)
1 lb brussels, quartered
1 tablespoon olive oil
For the sauce:
1 cup cashews, soaked in water for at least 2 hours
4 chipotles, seeded (see note)
1 cup vegetable broth
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
2 tablespoons miso (I used chickpea miso)
Salt to taste
Preheat the oven to 425 F for the brussels, and prepare a pot of salted water for the pasta. In the meantime, prep the brussels and make the sauce.
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss the quartered brussel sprouts with olive oil and a dash of salt. Bake for 18 minutes, until lightly browned. No need to flip them, just let ‘em roast.
To make the sauce: Drain the cashews and place all sauce ingredients in a blender and blend away until completely smooth. Scrape down the sides with a spatula to make sure you get everything. Depending on the strength of your blender this could take from one to five minutes.
When the macaroni is tender, drain it in a colander. Immediately place it back in the pot you boiled it in and stir in the sauce. Place pot on low heat and stir for 3 minutes or so, until the sauce is thickened a bit and everything is deliciously creamy. Taste for salt, toss in the brussel sprouts and serve!
(In the pic I put some extra chipotles in, but that was just for show. Unless you like things REALLY spicy you can skip that.)