have never really been a fan of mac ’n’ cheese. I liked it as a little kid, I guess, but it never really made it to the comfort food level that I see in others. I mean, to some people it seems like almost a religious experience. Whatever. To each their own. I always thought the “cheesy” sauce was a bit suspicious. Then I grew up and became a cheese snob. No supermarket cheese would suffice. Only imported European cheeses, my favorites being Alpine cheeses, and goat or sheep cheese. Then I became a Cheese Addict. Dr. Neal Barnard writes about this phenomena in Breaking the Food Addiction. The way some people fantasize about chocolate? That’s how I fantasize about P’tit Basque or Garrotxoa. Those damn casomorphins and the drug effects on the brain.
Anyway, over time tastes can change and addictions can ease. I don’t fantasize about cheese anymore. Really, I don’t. Well, except for . . . Anyway, I do steer clear of the cheese counter at Whole Foods. Also, I have been reluctant to try vegan cheese alternatives for a couple of reasons.
They are usually no healthier than real dairy.
Made up of highly refined oil or soy, they are basically pure fat, like the real thing. Plus, there is some really weird industrial magic going on that I would rather not ingest. The effects of that oil on cardiovascular health are no joke. More on that later.
They taste weird.
Why bother if it doesn’t even taste good?
They taste really good.
Some have cracked the code, like Daiya. Not only is it thoroughly unhealthy, if it tastes good, that reinforces the addiction I worked at overcoming. This goes for the artisan or homemade nut based cheeses as well. I have been reluctant to try them, but this holiday season I may be brave enough to try some of Mioyko Schinner’s awesome looking recipes.
That leaves nooch.
I’ve always liked nooch as a seasoning, but when people say it tastes “cheesy” my inner cheese snob laughs heartily. Just like that weird cheese sauce, it just didn’t seem that good.
I’ve tried Scott Jurek’s tofu based spread and liked it. I updated it with chickpeas for a different texture. And now in honor of Mac ’n’ Cheese Monday, I decided to try one to see what all the fuss is about.
I wanted easy, so I chose Lindsay Nixon’s Happy Herbivore version. Because I think the nutrient density is lacking, I steamed some broccoli as a side with the same sauce. I should have just mixed it all together. I also added a little Tabasco. Because everything goes better with Tabasco.
And the Verdict?
Not bad. The sauce came out lumpy because I didn’t mix things quite right, but the taste was decent. As mac ’n’ cheese I was pretty underwhelmed. Not much taste, not much texture, and for me not much comfort. But on the broccoli it was pretty good. The sauce has potential as part of a casserole of some kind with more veggies. Hmmm? Is there a possibility for a Retro Saturday casserole? I think so.