when i was little my mom attended college full time. she went back to school after having my brother and i to change careers and fulfill her desire of becoming a psychologist. i know it couldn't have been easy with two little ones at home, especially during the week when my dad was at work. dinners were generally comprised of a prepared meal my mom had picked up, or some concoction of food my dad was going to make. but the few nights my mom had time to cook, she would occasionally make us her grandmother's macaroni and cheese recipe. like all good mac n cheeses, it started with a roux. from there, plenty of good-quality cheddar cheese was melted into the pot to make the creamiest, dreamiest mac n cheese which she finished with a dash of nutmeg. if there's a flavor i specifically remember from childhood meals, it's this one. it reminds me of warmth, love, and most importantly - ultimate coziness.
so when i was testing recipes for my book, my goal was to make a plant-based version of my mom's mac n cheese for an alfredo dish i wanted to include. after a bunch of recipe bummers i made finally nailed the right ratio of chickpea flour to water to soaked cashews for the velvety and silky texture, and cheesy flavor i had always cherished. frank and i love the recipe so much that it's become a dinner staple, especially as the weather has gotten colder. we usually dig in to one big bowl of it, with a fork for each of us, all cozied up on the couch with blanket. (that's how we get down winter-style.) but for the past few weeks i had been seeing a bunch of baked mac n cheeses on pinterest that were literally making me drool every time i saw them. initially i was scared to try a plant-based version, as i thought the sauce would get too dry, but i bit the bullet and gave it a shot.
i ended up doubled my original alfredo recipe, caramelizing some onions, sautéed some kale, threw some breadcrumbs on top, and baked it until it was slightly crisp and browned. and, guys, it was crazy good! hence, the recipe you see here today :) there are a few steps in making it, but ultimately it's a super easy recipe. and i've saved you a step by sautéing the shallots and kale in the same pot that the pasta bakes in. i used KitchenAid®'s oven-safe saucepan to sauté and bake, and it was a dream! it has an inductive bottom that makes for even cooking, which, for somebody who's lived in apartments with funky stoves/ovens for a while now, these are the only pots and pans that have provided even cooking and i couldn't recommend them more! all in all, this is a really snuggly dish, a hug in the form of food, essentially :)
wishing you cozy times! xo
this post was created in partnership with KitchenAid® Cookware. all thoughts and opinions, as always, are my own. thank you so much for supporting the sponsors that keep dolly and oatmeal going!
crusty baked vegan alfredo w/ caramelized shallots & kale | gf
| makes 6 servings |
- sea salt
- freshly ground pepper
- 12 ounces brown rice pasta (i like tinkyada fussili)
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 5-6 medium sized shallots
- 1 bunch kale, chopped (about 5 cups)
- 1/2 cup gluten-free panko breadcrumbs (i like aleia's)
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- fresh parsley, for garnish (optional)
- 1/2 cup raw cashews soaked for at least 4 hours, drained and rinsed
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/3 cup nutritional yeast
- 4 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 1 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
- freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 cup chickpea flour
- 2 cups filtered water
- preheat oven to 350°F.
- cook the pasta in a large pot of salted water until al dente (see notes). drain and rinse under cold water to stop the pasta from cooking. set aside.
- while the pasta is cooking, make the shallots, kale, and breadcrumb topping. in an large oven-safe saucepan with 2-inch sides (alternatively, you can use a casserole pan or any large oven-friendly dish with sides), heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium. once the oil is hot, add the shallots and cook, stirring every now and then until the shallots are soft and caramelized, about 8 minutes. add the kale and saute until soft and wilted, about 4 minutes. remove from the heat and set aside. combine the breadcrumbs, nutritional yeast, a few pinches of salt, a couple grinds of pepper, and 1 tablespoon olive oil. set aside.
- make the alfredo sauce. place the cashews, oil, vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper to taste in the container of a high-speed blender and set aside.
- in a small pot, whisk together the water and chickpea flour until completely combined. place the pot over medium-low heat and continue to whisk every now and then until the mixture is thick and shiny , about 6-8 minutes. remove the mixture from the heat and carefully pour it into your blender. blend on high for 1 minute, until completely smooth and creamy. taste and adjust any seasonings, if needed.
- run the pasta under water to loosen it. add the pasta and hot alfredo sauce to the saucepan with the shallots and kale, gently toss until everything is mixed and covered in sauce. evenly sprinkle the surface with the breadcrumb mixture and bake for 18-20 minutes, until the browned and crusty on top. serve hot and garnish with parsley (optional).
notes: because the pasta is cooking in the oven for an additional 18-20 minutes, you want to undercook it. i would say to cook it about 2-3 minutes under what you normally do to prevent the pasta from being mushy.