Thursday, September 28, 2006

Vegan Mac n' "Cheese" with a Side of Balsamic Apples and 'Bellas

Last night I decided to whip up a big mound of my vegan mac n' "cheese" (but with penne this time 'round) so that I could be lazy for the rest of this week (and perhaps some of next week) and not have to worry about lunch and/or dinner quite so much. The nice thing about vegan mac n' "cheese" is that it's such a basic (but yummy) recipe that you can just toss in a couple different things each time you eat it, and it makes it taste like a whole new dish. For example, last night I tossed in some baby peas and toasted pinenuts. Tonight, I packed some of it with pine nuts and the very last dollop of pesto I made this weekend. Each dish yumbly but with a slightly different spin so that you can't quite get sick of it. And you can heat it up or eat it cold as well.

Ah, macaroni n' "cheese," you are so very versatile. How can we not heart you so?

Because I was feeling a bit ambitious (and inspired) after having flipped through a copy of The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen that just came in at the library, and because I have some baby portabellas and some left-over Washington apples (that I smuggled out from work on fruit day) that still need using up, I decided to toy around with a variation of the balsamic portabella recipe in the cookbook. And voila--a very flavorful, very woodsy and autumnal side-dish that hit the spot.

  • 1 apple (I used a Washington, but you can use whatever you want)

  • One of the large containers of baby 'bellas (this would probably taste really damn good with a mix of various woodsy wild mushrooms as well)

  • A fistful of walnuts, toasted

  • 1 clove garlic, minced

  • 1 T. olive oil

  • 2.5 T. balsamic vinegar


Preheat oven to 400. Dice the apple up into really small chunks. Rinse your 'bellas free from dirt (and pop off any yucky-looking stems). Spray a small casserole-dish with some non-stick spray and toss in both the apples and 'bellas. Place in the oven for 25 minutes or so. (I forgot about the walnuts and just ended up adding them in after everything was already cooked, but if I make this again, I'll probably toss the walnuts into the oven for the last 10 minutes or so.) Drain out any excess juice/water. In a small saucepan, heat up the olive oil and toss in your garlic. Cook for a minute or so and then add your balsamic vinegar. According to the book, you wanna boil the balsamic vinegar for about 2-3 minutes until it's thickened and reduced. Mine didn't thicken quite so much, though it did reduce. Remove from heat and drizzle on your mushroom/apple mix. If you haven't already added your walnutters, you can add them now as well. Toss around and serve. Makes enough for about 2 side dishes.

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