Unending Spring Mac & Cheese
- 1/2 pound Brussel Sprouts (approx 15 sprouts)
- 1 half bunch of Kale (curly, red, lacinato, your fav)
- Olive oil (for roasting)
- 1/4 tsp Garlic powder (for roasting)
- 3 Tablespoons Flour
- 3 Tablespoons melted Earth Balance
- 2 cups plain, unsweetened Soy milk (or other non-dairy)
- 2 – 1/2 cups Treeline Cheese, grated (or other non-dairy cheese)
- Cayenne pepper (to taste)
- Sweet Paprika (to taste)
- Salt & Pepper (white if you’re fussy, black is fine)
- 1 box Short Pasta (I used shells)
Preheat your oven to 375° F.
Let’s start with the Brussels sprouts, because we’re going to roast them, but not in the usual way. Cut the root ends off your sprouts, and take off individual leaves. You may have to cut more off the end to free more leaves, but you want the larger ones. When they start getting hard to separate, move on to the next sprout.
In a large baking dish, spread your leaves in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil, then season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Mix this up so that all the leaves get some love.
Roast for 15-20 minutes. Some will get quite dark, but there should still be a fair amount of green.
Nice job! Set these aside for later, try not to eat half of them in the meantime. Wash your kale, remove the large stalks/ribs, and tear into bite-size pieces.
In a large pot, get your salted pasta water boiling, and cook it according to box directions while you’re making your sauce.
Grate your cashew cheese, and have that on deck. The base of any mac and cheese should be a roux. A roux is equal parts flour and fat, cooked to varying degrees of darkness. You’re going to need a whisk for this one. In a small to medium sauce pan, melt your pseudo-butter of choice on medium.
Once melted, add your flour, and break out your whisk. The flour and pseudo-butter will combine to form something that looks like pate a choux, or a yellow paste. Let this cook for a little bit, stirring, just to get the rawness out of the flour; about 5 minutes.
Turn your heat down to a medium low, and slowly, whisk in hand, add your non-dairy milk of choice.
Whisk! Whisk more! It’s going to get thick fast. Once you’ve added your full two cups, still whisking, it should be a looser sauce consistency. Add in your dairy-free cheese a fistful at a time, whisking until it’s incorporated before you add your next batch. Yes, it melts just fine. Also, your whisk is your best friend at this stage.
When all the cheese has been added, season with salt (start at a tsp and work your way up if need be), pepper, cayenne, and paprika.
When your pasta is ready, drain, but reserve about 1/2 cup of the pasta water in a measuring cup on the side. In the pasta pot, add the torn up kale to your pasta and stir. It will wilt slightly. Add a splash of the reserved pasta water as you mix.
Add the sauce to your kale and pasta combo and mix thoroughly. Fold in your roasted Brussels sprouts leaves last.
Serve immediately, and try not to eat the entire thing in one sitting.
It’s creamy, verdant, and with a tanginess reminiscent of goat cheese. Warmly satisfying to help you get through yet another ‘spring time’ snow storm. I’m definitely going to need a steady supply of Treeline cheese to keep my habit in check.
Recipe and photos by Vanessa Pastore