Mama Mia! Vegetarian Italian Mac & Cheese Time!

Growing up my mother used to make a horribly fattening Italian Mac & Cheese.  The recipe was from her grandmother in Italy.  It’s Vegetarian, but I am going to share it here with vegan substitutions in parenthesis.  It was one of those dishes that warmed our hearts and filled our bellies to the brim as kids.  It’s great for the fall and winter.  Anticipating a busy day?  Make this ahead of time and simply pop it into the oven when you’re ready for dinner.  Serve with a fresh green salad and a slice of garlic bread, and it’s wonderful!

Mama’s Italian Macaroni & Cheese

INGREDIENTS:

8 Tablespoons butter (V – Earth Balance)

2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1/4 cup flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

Pinch cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon nutmeg (freshly ground is much better)

2 cups milk (V -unsweetened almond milk)

1 pound penne pasta, cooked

1 cup ricotta cheese (V – substitution below in red)

1 pound mozzarella cheese (V – purchase at your local health food store)

2 tomatoes, diced

1 jar artichokes in oil, drained & diced (optional)

1/2 cup bread crumbs

1/2 cup Pecarino-Romano cheese, freshly grated (V – purchase at your local health food store – PARMA)

3 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped

LET’S GET COOKING!

Melt the butter/earth balance in a large saucepan over low heat. Whisk in the flour, salt, pepper and ground nutmeg. Cook and stir for 2 minutes, or until bubbly.  Gradually whisk in the milk/almond milk, stirring until well-blended.  Raise the heat to medium and cook until the mixture just begins to boil, stirring constantly.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes, until the sauce is thickened.

In a large bowl, mix together the cooked pasta, the sauce, the oilve oil, tomato, bread crumbs, basil, Pecarino-Romano cheese, mozzarella cheese, and the Ricotta cheese.  Spoon the mixture into a large casserole dish and bake at 350 F. for 30 minutes.

Note:  You can also add cooked Italian sausage (I use the vegan option).

Buon Appetito!

FOR THE TOFU RICOTTA CHEESE
1 lb firm tofu, drained and pressed
2 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 c nutritional yeast
10 fresh basil leaves
  fresh cracked black pepper

Brittany resides in beautiful Santa Barbara, California, and may be contacted for events, private parties, weddings, cooking classes, and craft and catering services via her website: 

TASTE…and See

 

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