I’m not a big fan of most vegan cheese on the market. While a lot of companies seem to consider texture and stretchiness as the top priority, I find most still lack delicious and interesting flavor; they all seem to taste like the cheapest, low-grade dairy cheeses available.
Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy a few pre-made vegan cheeses, my absolute favorite being Dr. Cow Aged Cashew. While it’s not ideal for making say…mac n’ cheeze, the flavor and creamy texture make it perfect for eating on a baguette or with crackers. I also enjoyed Cheezly quite a bit when it was still available in the U.S. It was always my go-to cheese for pizza night when I was feeling too lazy to make my own cashew cheese. Both of these products just have something the others lack – a tasty and complex flavor.
That’s why I was immediately intrigued when I saw the recipe for Mac n’ Shews on the Post Punk Kitchen blog. Not only was it a cashew based recipe, but it had a completely unique ingredient I had never seen used in any other mac n’ cheeze recipe – sauerkraut.
I knew right away this is what I had been looking for over the past few years. As the recipe’s author Isa Chandra Moskowitz puts it:
“I wanted something different, tangier, more interesting. Cheese is aged, giving it flavor and nuance. There’s always mustard (an ingredient even in the New Farm recipe), miso, lemon…but I hit upon an ingredient that really gave me the depth I was looking for…sauerkraut!”
It was certainly love at first bite. Not only was the flavor amazing, but it was also perfectly thick and creamy, and it even had a bit of a texture that was reminiscent of my favorite pre-vegan Stouffer’s Macaroni & Cheese.
The only thing I want to do differently in the future is experiment with different types of sauerkraut and vegetable broth. I had wound up buying some kind of cheap brand of ‘kraut, and used veggie buillion cubes, and I found that sometimes the flavor just wasn’t pronounced enough. While I do prefer my mac n’ cheeze mild, I think buying higher quality ingredients could be a big improvement.
I would also highly recommend this recipe to nutritional yeast haters and avoiders. The recipe only calls for 2 tablespoons, and it’s optional! While I did add nutritional yeast to my mac n’ shews, I am interested in hearing how it is without.