a tale of two sauces

October 6, 2011

I’m a highly indecisive person.

Well, unless I know what I want. But if I don’t know what I want, I want someone else to make the decision for me. Don’t know what I want to eat for lunch? Then don’t ask me where I want to go (MOM!) because I will come back with “I don’t care”.

This weekend I finally bought some more brown rice pasta. We had been out for a few weeks, and I am pretty sure the Husband had been going through some sort of sick and tragic pasta withdrawal — that or he just shakes his legs a ridiculous amount all the time. I’m going to go with the latter.

Don’t hate me, but I was just not feeling the marinara sauce this week. All I could think about was a vegan cheese sauce… or pesto… or a vegan cheese sauce… or pesto. Let’s face it — I couldn’t make a decision to save my life.

Turns out, I didn’t have to.

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That would be a vegan cheese sauce on the left and ELR’s oil free pesto on the right. And now I would like to introduce you to the pasta dish of my dreams.

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Hold on please — I am having a moment.


What I want to know is why I haven’t ever combined a cheese sauce and a pesto recipe before. It probably has something to do with taking two extremely decadent and rich sauces and combining them to make a sauce that will overtake your life.

I feel like I have been waiting to make this pasta for years — because let’s face it.. when you are about to embark on making Vegan Pesto Mac & Cheese, two days to wait is a very very long time. I woke up on Tuesday thinking about this pasta. I went through my day salivating over the very thought of it hitting my lips. I raced home after school to get to work.

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Do you want to know the best part about making this dish? Taste testing it. Because apparently when you make something that you have never tasted combined before, it means that you need to eat at least half of it before dinner time — not that I would know or anything. Oh, and it also gives you an excuse to eat a few spoonfuls as you are cleaning up as well.

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Vegan Pesto Mac & Cheese

Serves: 4-6
Difficulty: Easy
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

  • 1-16 oz. package of penne pasta (or elbow pasta)
  • 1 batch ELR’s oil free pesto
  • 1 batch vegan cheese sauce (see below)
  • paprika (optional)

Directions: Before making your pasta sauces, start by boiling water and cooking the pasta per the directions of the pasta you are using. While the water is boiling and the pasta is cooking, prepare the oil free pesto and the vegan cheese sauce. Once prepared, combine and stir until smooth. Once the pasta is done cooking, pour approximately 2/3 of the pesto/cheese sauce on the pasta and stir to coat. (note: I put the remaining sauce in a freezer safe ziplock bag and am freezing it for future use!) Sprinkle with paprika and serve!

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Vegan Cheese Sauce   adapted from Healthy Happy Life

Makes: ~2 cups
Difficulty: Easy
Prep Time: ~5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

  • 3/4 cups nutritional yeast
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 can (about 1.5 cups) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp. Earth Balance (or any other vegan margarine)
  • 2 tbsp. Bragg’s liquid aminos
  • 1 tbsp. agave nectar
  • 1 tsp. xanthan gum
  • 1/2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1/8 tsp. black pepper

Directions: In a food processor, process the cannellini beans until relatively smooth. Then, transfer the beans into a blender along with the rest of the ingredients. Liquefy until the sauce is smooth, and then transfer the cheese sauce mixture to a small sauce pan. Heat over medium high, stirring occasionally to avoid burning until the sauce begins to boil. Then, lower the heat to low and simmer until sauce begins to thicken (~5 minutes).  Enjoy!

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Can I be perfectly honest with you? (As if I never am?) The first bite of this combination that crossed my lips caused me to curse. You know what kind of curse I’m talking about. The kind that what you’re eating is so insanely delicious that you just can’t think of another word but a bad one. I’m not one to cuss (unless I’m behind the wheel), but holy (insert your choice word here) – this is delicious.

Looking at these pictures is making me a little bit sad, I’m not going to lie. You know something is insanely delicious when you refuse to let your husband have seconds because if he does there will not be enough for you to have leftovers for lunch the next day. Not that that happened or anything.

Let’s focus on the bigger picture — this got the Husband Seal of Approval!!! That is huge in this household – I look at it as kind of like an Emmy for cooking – because anytime I mention the word “cheese” and serve the Husband something that is not really cheese, he gets a little bit upset. This time? Not so much.

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The fact that this bowl is empty? Very upsetting. Very.

There’s no need to be indecisive about this one.

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