The Noochy Noodle

a world beyond the blue box

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Truffle Macaroni & Cheese from Source

Source is San Francisco’s newest vegetarian spot and a self described “multi-dimensional dining experience”. Whatever that means! To be honest, I was a bit concerned before they opened as San Francisco already has a vegetarian restaurant with an extensive menu serving up “mainstream international vegan/vegetarian food” and it’s not very good. Bay Area folks you know what I’m talking about! Fortunately, Source has far exceeded my expectations and is quickly becoming one of my favorite restaurants in San Francisco; it certainly helps that they serve up a gigantic piping hot bowl full of macaroni and cashew cheese. That earns you at least 4 stars on Yelp right off the bat.

The menu describes the mac n’ cheese as “Truffle Macaroni & Cheese w/ four cheese, truffle oil topped with agave bread crumbs”. However, there is a vegan and non-vegan version so I’m not sure if this version actually has four cheeses. It seems like it might only be three, but I don’t really care because it’s fantastic as is! It doesn’t mention it in the description, but there is a lot of garlic happening in this dish. A whole lot. It’s good, but you’ve been warned.  I love this mac n’ cheese because there are actually quite a few flavors and textures going on in such a traditionally simple dish. Since it’s so rich and such a large portion it’s not the type of mac n’ cheese I could eat all the time, but damn is it good! Bonus points for being served with a small baguette. Who doesn’t love a good carb fest?

Source is such a quirky place. You pay at the counter and then receive full table service, everything is ionized, filtered or purified within an inch of it’s life, faux meats on the menu are named after the sound that the analagous animal makes, and all the food comes on silly little trays, but you know what? It’s awesome! I’ve tried several other dishes now, including the Avocado Oink Bits Mozzerella Burger, Baked Vegan Spinach Artichoke Fondue, the Cluck and Artichoke Hearts, plus several of the desserts and have been awfully impressed with everything. Mark this place on your “must eat” list folks!

Mac and Cheese at Rosetta’s Kitchen in Asheville, NC

Editor Note: Our first guest post comes from Panda Cookie all the way over in North Carolina. When she’s not enjoying a hot bowl of mac n’ cheese you can find her sewin’ up adorable wares and baking delicious vegan treats to sell on Etsy.

Sweet, sweet mac and cheese.  When I saw that the Noochy Noodle was taking guest posts I knew I needed to write about one of my favorite places to get it.

Rosetta’s Kitchen in downtown Asheville, NC, is an all vegetarian and vegan restaurant that serves up comfort food with the best of them.  They stay open til 3 am on the weekends so you can get your fill of mashed potatoes, corn fritters and BBQ tempeh in the wee hours.  Their mac and cheese can be ordered as a side dish, cup for $2.50, bowl for $4.

This is mac and cheese prepared the way I like it best, elbow noodles with a cheesy sauce (I think nooch based) and a bit of breadcrumbs baked on top.  There is also a sprinkling of greens and tomatoes added, although I have been when they have it sans tomato or greens.  It satisfies by being creamy without being too heavily sauced.  I like to have a bit of bite to the noodle and I’ve found too much sauce makes the dish too mushy for my tastes.  There isn’t anything revolutionary about the mac at Rosetta’s and I think that is why I am so fond of it.  It is just good solid comfort food when I need it.

Mac n’ Quiche With Caramelized Onions, Spinach and Smoky Curls

This recipe has lived in my imagination for awhile now and I finally got to execute it for Vegan Happy Hour this month! It was originally inspired by this article on the Huffington Post. I saw the mac n’ cheese pie and thought, I can do it better, and I can do it vegan! So after bouncing around ideas with a few like-minded mac n’ cheese lovers I set off to make the ultimate vegan quiche with a macaroni and cheese filling.

The results!

So what went into this recipe? I started with the cashew cheese from my Jalapeno Popper Dip because I wanted a thick sauce that wouldn’t run and make the crust soggy. I went with Julie Hasson’s Smoky Curls from Vegan Diner for the meaty component because I’m completely obsessed with them right now. If you don’t have access to her amazing book or soy curls you can use either store bought or homemade tempeh bacon. Of course, any good quiche needs spinach and caramelized onions. It’s a rule I read somewhere. After everything was mixed together it was all nestled into a flaky pastry shell and topped with sliced tomato.

But what the hell, I’ll just tell you exactly how to make it.

Mac n’ Quiche! A Recipe. 

 For the Crust (or use your favorite quiche crust recipe)

  • 1 ¾ C pastry flour
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 C palm shortening*
  • 3 – 4 tbs cold water

For the mac n’ cheese filling

  • ½ lb macaroni noodles
  • 1  C raw cashew pieces
  • 1/2 lb firm tofu, crumbled up a bit with your fingers
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • 3 tbs olive oil
  • 1/4 C lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp turmeric

The rest of the filling

  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • Medium yellow onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
  • 5 oz spinach
  • 1/4 package of Tofurky Smoky Maple Tempeh Bacon or Homemade Tempeh Bacon, cut into medium sized pieces OR 1 recipe of Julie Hasson’s Smoky Curls from Vegan Diner
  • Tomato, thinly sliced

*I buy a giant bucket of Tropical Traditions palm shortening  like once every 5 years. It’s sustainable and fair trade. Good stuff!

What to Do

Preheat oven to 350°

Make the crust – In a medium sized bowl sift together the pastry flour and salt. Add the palm oil and use a pastry cutter to work the oil into the flour until dough looks like medium sized crumbs. Add cold water a tablespoon at a time or until dough begins to hold together.  Roll dough into a ball and place in the refrigerator for at least 40 minutes.

Roll the pastry crust into a thin round sheet about ¼” thick. Mold the crust to the bottom and all the way up the sides of a 9” springform pan. Trim off any excess pastry from the top and place a pie shield on the top of the pan. Bake for 20 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Cook macaroni – Cook according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

If you are making Julie Hasson’s Smoky Curls now would be a good time to start marinating them.

Make the cashew cheese – Place cashews in a food processor and pulse a few times. Add tofu and garlic, process for 30 seconds, and scrape down sides with a rubber spatula. With the food processor running add the olive oil and lemon juice, let the processor run for about 30 more seconds, scrape down the sides again, add salt, onion powder and turmeric. Process for another minute, or until cheese is smooth and creamy.  Set aside.

Make the rest of the filling (if making Smoky Curls this is a good place to start cooking them!) –  Preheat oil on medium-high in a medium sized nonstick pan, add onions and a pinch of salt. Sautee for about 15 minutes, or until onions begin to brown and caramelize.  Add a tiny bit of water to deglaze the pan and then add spinach by the handful. Sautee until spinach is completely wilted and water is dissolved. Add Tofurky tempeh bacon (if using) and cook for about 2 more minutes.

Put it all together  – In a large mixing bowl combine macaroni, cashew cheese, onion/spinach mixture, and Smoky Curls if using. Mix well.

Add mac n’ cheese mixture to the pan and flatten using a rubber spatula. Place sliced tomatoes in a pretty pattern on top. Put in oven and bake for 40 minutes, or until crust has browned a bit and mac n’ cheese has heated through.  Enjoy!

The Noochy Noodle Visits Souley Vegan (1000 times)

Souley Vegan is one of my favorite restaurants in the Bay Area, and my absolute favorite  in Oakland. While I can never seem to make it across the Bay for things like friends, concerts, job interviews, weddings or other so-called important life things, if you so much as say a word about the aforementioned all vegan soul food restaurant, I’m there. I try to be adventurous since everything on the menu is fantastic but nothing beats a crispy tofu burger, mac n’ cheese, and potato salad combo. Sometimes I do switch the potato salad out with mustard greens if I’m not feeling carb-tastic…but it’s so hard to say no.

Mac and Cheese, Potato Salad, Crispy Tofu Burger

As for the mac n’ cheese; some sort of humongous rigatoni-type pasta stands in for the macaroni, but no matter, we’re not noodle purists here. The cheesy sauce is thick, creamy, and heavy on the nooch. I’ve been trying to figure out for a really long time how they make the sauce and I’m not any closer to figuring it out now than I was when they opened.  I’m thinking it’s possibly made with tofu? Overall, it’s nothing fancy, just incredibly comforting and delicious, exactly how mac n’ cheese was intended to be. If they sold it by the pound I would stock my newly aquired deep freezer with it.

Write a Guest Post

A quick word to let everyone know that The Noochy Noodle is now looking for folks interested in writing a guest post (or 2! or 3!) about the vegan mac n’ cheese options available around your town. Check out the “Write a Guest Post” tab up top for more information!

Los Angeles Tour de Macaroni

After finals were over my boyfriend and I took a trip to LA. It seemed like every restaurant had macaroni and cheese on the menu! You would think I would be in heaven and never want to leave, but you would actually be wrong because quite a few of the macaroni and cheese I encountered was made with Daiya (or even Follow Your Heart once!) and/or quinoa pasta. I hate quinoa pasta (brown rice pasta is where it’s at!) and I hate Daiya (and FYH cheeses!). So my excitement tends to immediately turn into extreme disappointment if I see either of those words. But you know what? I’m a dedicated blogger so I order it anyway. I suffer for you people.

When we arrived in LA we headed over to Madeleine Bistro for dinner. It was their final weekend in business so we wanted to make the most of our meal. I was pleasantly surprised to find that they had a macaroni and cashew cheese with quinoa pasta , so I ordered that as a side dish. At $6 for about half a cup of macaroni I had high expectations.

While I thought the cashew cheese sauce was really good, even getting up there with my favorites like Homegrown Smoker and Homeroom, the flavor of the quinoa pasta really overpowered the rest of the dish. I totally understand and support wanting to provide options for gluten free patrons, but I know that there are gluten free pastas out there that don’t taste weird! Use those instead please!

The next morning we went for brunch at Sage Organic Vegan Bistro in Echo Park. I just about had a total psychotic break when I saw you could order mac n’ cheese for brunch. And smoked macaroni and cheese with a biscuit and walnut sausage at that! It’s like my childhood dream had finally come true! I’m an adult! I can have whatever I want for brunch! Hooray!

It was as amazing as it looks. The flavor was unique; the smokiness, while subtle, really helped the dish stand out against the dozens of of other vegan mac and cheese dishes you can get in LA. Highly recommended!

I would have ordered the Daiya based mac n’ cheese at Native Foods when we went for lunch, but it was on the kids menu and they have a strict (I’m not really sure how strict, actually) 10 and under policy. So, I got to dodge that bullet! Phew.

For first dinner Saturday evening we went to Stuff I Eat, a soul food restaurant in Inglewood. Alex and I shared a Soul Food Platter.

Now, I say first dinner because neither of us were very into it. The macaroni and cheese is just made with melted Follow Your Heart. Do with that information what you will, but I could not eat it. If melted FYH is your thing then go for it! Ignore everything I’ve said! The rest of the food was a bit underwhelming, and we both already don’t like yams, so we just decided to have second dinner.

Second dinner was at Veggie Grill! And hey, what do you know? they have gluten free macaroni n’ cheese made Daiya! I ordered a Santa Fe Chickin’ Sandwich with a side of the Mac-n-Cheese.

As I expected, it tasted like Daiya! I will say some nice things. The texture here was much better than other Daiya based mac n’ cheeses I’ve tried; It didn’t stick to the inside of my mouth or coat my tongue as much! And this time the pasta tasted better since it was brown rice instead of quinoa. That being said, I only took a few bites.

So in review that brings us to 3 macaroni and cheese dishes ordered on Saturday with two being kind of gross and one being really awesome! You can’t win them all, I suppose.