Vegan BLT Mac & Cheeze from ‘Vegan with a Vengeance’
Isa Chandra Moskowitz is pretty much the patron saint of vegan cooking, which is why we were super excited to receive a copy of the 10th anniversary edition of herVegan with a Vengeance cookbook. The book has been a go-to for vegan comfort-food recipes, as well as tips to make plant-based eating as easy and affordable as possible. (In true Isa style, budget is always a priority, which we also love!)
Recipe photos by Emily Caruso
The updated edition contains a new foreword, new recipes and some brand new photos. Just about every recipe looks amazing, but we’ve especially been loving the Tempeh Reuben, Brussels Sprout Fried Rice, Fauxstess Cupcakes (which are basically the best thing ever) and this recipe for Vegan BLT Mac and Cheeze. Part of the charm of Isa’s books is that they’re written in a very straightforward style, and the recipes—while they can sound fancy or fussy—are often simple enough to make on a weeknight.
The cashew-soaking and eggplant bacon-making in this savory, slightly smoky mac and cheeze does add prep time, but both of those tasks can be done ahead. Arugula adds a nice peppery flavor, and if your garden is overflowing with tomatoes this is a perfect way to use them. If you’re gluten free, use your favorite rice- or quinoa-based pasta (and GF tamari for the eggplant bacon) and you’re good to go!
Drain the cashews and place with all the sauce ingredients in a blender or food processor 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 1 to 5 minutes. Taste for salt and pepper, keeping in mind that you want it just a little saltier than you think because it's going to be poured over all the other ingredients.
To make the Eggplant Bacon
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Prepare the eggplant while the oven in preheating. Eggplants will vary in size, so if using baby eggplant that is 2 inches wide at its widest, just slice into 1/8-inch circles. If using large eggplants, first cut in half lengthwise, then slice the halves into 1/8-inch-thick half-moons.
Spray the lined baking sheets lightly with cooking spray. Arrange the eggplant pieces in a single layer and spray lightly once more. Place in the oven and bake for about 8 minutes, keeping a close eye. Rotate the pans about halfway through baking.
Remove from the oven and flip the slices. They should be browning and ready, and if any are slightly burnt, don't worry; just transfer them to a plate to cool. Return the remaining strips to the oven for about 3 minutes.
Remove from the oven. The eggplant should be dark brown to burnt in some places, and yellowish white and tender in some places. Transfer to a plate to prevent further baking.
Lower the oven temperature to 350°F. Mix the soy sauce and liquid smoke together in a large bowl. Dip the eggplant slices in mixture a few at a time and return to the baking sheet. Bake for about 3 more minutes, until heated through.
To make the BLT Mac
Prepare the pasta according to the package directions. When the pasta is tender, drain it in a colander. Immediately place it back in the pot you boiled it in and stir in the sauce. Place the 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 again. Now toss in the arugula, tomatoes and eggplant bacon, leaving a little extra aside to garnish, if you like. Serve!