At Plum, most of the attention goes to our “Mac ‘n’ Yease,” a vegan mac ‘n’ cheese from the heavens, with super- secret ingredients. I agree that the Mac ‘n’ Yease should be on everyone’s bucket list, but I’m also a fan of this smoky, creamy pasta made with vegan mozzarella and cheddar and our own smoked tofu. (If you aren’t in a market that sells Plum’s brand, order ours online at PlumBistro.tumblr.com/store or substitute another smoked tofu.) You can’t have too many macs in your repertoire.
Makes 6 to 8 servings
© 2020 Makini Howell / GMC Publications · Reproduced with permission. · c2013 By Makini Howell. All rights reserved. Excerpted from Plum: Gratifying Vegan Dishes from Seattle’s Plum Bistro by permission of Sasquatch Books. Photography by Charity Burggraaf.
You Will Need
To make the pasta, bring a large pot of water and the salt to a boil over high heat. Add the macaroni and cook according to the package instructions, until al dente. Drain and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
In a medium sauté pan heat the oil over medium heat. Add the tofu and cook until crispy, about 2 to 4 minutes. Put the onion, garlic, and thyme leaves in the same pan and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the onion is soft. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.
To make the sauce, in a small saucepan over medium heat, heat the milk with the thyme and garlic until hot but not boiling, about 7 minutes. Strain out the solids using a fine-mesh sieve and set the milk aside.
Melt the buttery spread in a deep sauté pan or Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for about 1 minute, stirring constantly. Make sure this roux doesn’t darken; turn down the heat if it’s in danger of browning.
Whisk the milk into the roux. Continue to whisk over medium-low heat until the roux is smooth, about 1 minute more. Stir in the soy cream until it is thoroughly incorporated, about 1 minute. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and remove the pan from the heat.
Add the cooked macaroni, 4 cups of the cheese, and the red pepper flakes, and fold together until the macaroni is coated. Scrape the mac into a large baking dish (3 quarts is about right, or use 2 smaller dishes). Sprinkle the remaining 1 cup of cheese and tofu-onion mixture over the top, then dust with the panko. Bake until the mac is bubbly in the center, crispy on top, and heated through, about 30 minutes.
SAVORY SOY CREAM (GF)
This thick “cream” is something like a vegan mayonnaise. It’s versatile enough to handle any number of flavorings, so feel free to play with seasonings other than the suggested garlic. If you have a soy-free diet, you can substitute Savory Rice Cream (page 7) in most recipes. For all vegan creams, make sure to add your oil quite slowly and stop when the mixture is the thickness you want, even if you haven’t used up all the oil. The amount of vinegar you use will vary depending on how thick you want the cream to be.
Makes about 3 cups
Put the milk in a powerful blender, such as a Vitamix, if you have one. (The more powerful the blender, the creamier the consistency of the final cream.) With the machine running, drizzle in the oil very slowly, until it is thoroughly blended with the milk. Continue blending for another minute or so, until the mixture has the consistency of heavy cream. (Note that it will become more like a light whipped cream after you add the vinegar.)
Pour the mixture into a medium bowl and whisk in the vinegar and garlic to taste.
Store the cream in a tightly sealed jar in the refrigerator for up to a week. It will firm up to about the consistency of mayonnaise. Re-whip it with a whisk to return it to its original texture, adding a little more milk if need be.