This is basically a vegan mac and cheese with broccoli and seasoned aggressively (but tastefully!) with freshly-ground black pepper. And if you are familiar with Richa’s recipes, you already know that this one is healthy and flavorful and easy to customize!
Speaking of customization, that’s one of the biggest themes of the new cookbook and biggest departures from Richa’s first cookbook. The cookbook chapters are organized around sauces (or sets of sauces) with recipes for how to use them. This cheesy black pepper macaroni and broccoli comes from the “Deep Dishing” chapter which features a set of cheese analogues and complementary dishes.
Another example of a chapter structure is the “Sweet and Sour” chapter, which includes recipes like Teriyaki Tempeh, Kung Pao Lentils, and Crispy Sweet and Sour Tofu. The recipes are structured such that you could swap around the sauces and make Crispy Kung Pao Tofu, Teriyaki Lentils, and Sweet and Sour Tempeh instead. You get the idea!
Flipping through the cookbook for the first time I recognized about half of the recipes as previous favorites from Richa’s blog with the rest being new to me. In typical Richa fashion, everything is flavorful and delicious, with such tempting recipes as Chickpea Chilaquiles; Tiramisu Fudge Bars, and Buddha Bowl with Nacho-Spiced Sweet Potatoes. I truly believe all of the recipes are approachable and would be liked by people of all dietary persuasions.
Most recipes are accompanied with a beautiful photo. In my experience the prep and cook times were accurate as printed. I would have loved to see the cookbook concept come full circle by included some suggested meal plans or being more explicit about the sauce variations available for the various recipes. Thankfully this isn’t really a hindrance to enjoying the book, since in addition to being organized around sauces/styles it also includes a comprehensive index. Like Vegan Richa’s Indian Kitchen, this new cookbook will be a great addition to your cookbook shelf!
Back to the cheesy mac and broccoli. I’ve been doing this vegan thing for a while now and have seen many takes on potato-carrot “cheese” over the years.. As I talked about in my vegan baked mac and cheese recipe, I’m skeptical of the carrot in there and usually if I’m creating a recipe I go a different direction with it.
For the purposes of science, I tried really hard to follow Richa’s recipe exactly; I was at least loyal to the potato and carrot base and it’s by far the best version of that that I’ve had yet. Richa expertly brings in other supporting ingredients to build a flavorful cheezy sauce that boasts a beautiful orange color and coats the macaroni noodles and broccoli perfectly.
Because of what I had on hand and my little preferences I made some other small changes. I used shallot instead of white onion; fish pepper from the CSA instead of green chile; grapeseed oil instead of olive; and extra broccoli! I also used Tinkyada brown rice macaroni.
Black Pepper Cheesy Vegan Mac and Broccoli
From Richa: Potato-carrot cheese sauce is the thing these days. My version of this sauce is creamy, filled with vegetables, and loaded with black pepper. What makes this sauce different is the black pepper: add black pepper and then, when you think that should be enough, add some more. (From Vegan Richa’s Everyday Kitchen copyright © 2017 by Richa Hingle. Used by permission Vegan Heritage Press.)
- 2 and 1/2 cups water (600 ml)
- 1 medium potato peeled and cubed
- 1/3 cup chopped carrots (50g)
- 4 cloves garlic chopped (or use 1 tsp garlic powder)
- 3 tbsp chopped onion (or use 1/2 tsp onion powder)
- 1/2 small green chile chopped (optional)
- 1 small tomato chopped
- 1/4 cup raw cashews (or macadamia nuts, or use pepitas for nut-free version)
- 2 and 1/2 cups chopped broccoli (225g)
- 1 tsp prepared mustard
- 2 tsp soy sauce or tamari (or coconut aminos for soy-free version)
- 4 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 2 tsp freshly-squeezed lemon juice
- 2 tbsp olive oil (omit for oil-free)
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp sriracha (optional)
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp white pepper
- 1 and 1/2 tsp freshly-ground black pepper divided
- 10 oz elbow pasta cooked (gluten-free if necessary)
In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, combine the water, potato, carrots, garlic, onion, chile (if using), tomato, and cashews. Cover the skillet and cook 18 to 20 minutes, or until the potato is very tender. Let the mixture cool slightly.
Meanwhile, bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil over high heat. Add the broccoli and cook for 2 minutes. Drain the broccoli and set aside. Alternatively, you can add the broccoli to the cooking pasta pot in the last two minutes.
Combine the potato mixture (along with its liquid), mustard, soy sauce, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, oil, paprika, and sriracha (if using) in a blender. Blend for 1 minute, let the mixture rest for 1 minute, and blend again until smooth.
Transfer the mixture to the saucepan over medium heat. Add the salt, white pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon of the black pepper, stirring to combine. Add some additional water to adjust the consistency if the sauce is too thick.
Bring the sauce almost to a boil. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Add the elbow pasta and broccoli. Stir to combine, cover the saucepan, and cook for 3 minutes. Let the mixture sit for 2 minutes. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon black pepper. Sprinkle some more pepper on each serving, if desired.