Yeah, I apologize upfront for the title; I couldn’t help myself. I’m going to reveal something quite shameful about myself now. Brace yourselves. And I remind you that I’m a stalwart vegan with a stubborn streak over a kilometre long. The one thing I miss the most since my transition to veganism is, out of the vast number of items that are now verboten, Kraft Dinner. I suppose the title of this post likely busted my attempt at suspense right off the bat, but I had to give it a try.
When I was a kid, my idea of heaven was sliced knackwurst mixed into my fluorescent orange goodness. Though I will never eat another knackwurst, the temptation to sneak into a corner store for a box of KD is almost stronger than I care to admit. So far I’ve slipped a handful of times in over 8 years, and based on how addicted I used to be, I figure that’s a pretty good batting average. Nevertheless, every time I’ve slipped I’ve felt like dirt afterward, so I’m forever striving to develop a KD fix that’s more in-line with my ethics, values and consumer choices. The key is that the recipe has to be quick and brainless, and a bonus is to avoid using any vegan cheese substitute. Oh, and it has to taste great to boot. I like a challenge. This version is a little spicier than your average KD, but it’s got that tang that always makes my mouth water. Hope you like it.
- 3 cups of dry pasta (I love corn pasta because it always stays a little al dente, but any kind will do)
- 2 tbsp Earth Balance butter
- 3 tbsp unbleached white flour
- 1 cup soy or almond milk (or rice, or coconut… you get the idea…not that I’ve ever tried coconut milk here – that might actually be amazing!)
- 1 tsp Zatarain’s cajun spice
- 1/3 tsp turmeric
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast (if you’re so inclined, which I always am, but it’s optional)
- sea salt to taste
Cook your pasta in salted water for however long the package indicates (though I usually decrease that by a minute or so since I like my pasta on the not-so-soggy side). In the meantime, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat, then gradually whisk your flour until the mixture becomes crumbly. Add the soy milk gradually, about 2 tbsp at a time, until the crumbly stuff starts to smooth out. Keep adding until the soy milk has run out and the bechamel sauce you’ve just created (tah-dah!) is smooth, silky and is starting to thicken. Add all spices, stir, and then add the cooked pasta. Keep a little of the pasta water to thin the sauce out as needed – I know everyone likes their KD sauce a certain way. Season with salt (an important ingredient here if you want this to satisfy your KD craving) and then serve! Oh, for a colourful variation, add green peas or edemame in with the pasta during the last minute of cooking for a nice green-and-yellowy-orange feast.