VEGAN/GLUTEN FREE EGGPLANT AND CARMELIZED ONION PASTA (mac n cheese) and GREEN BEAN VINAIGRETTE
VEGAN/GLUTEN FREE EGGPLANT & CARMELIZED ONION PASTA (mac n cheese)
FOR THE PASTA
1 small-medium eggplant
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 1/2 yellow onions (sliced in 1/4 inch rings or wedges)
- 10 ounces macaroni noodles (GF for gluten-free eaters)
- 3-4 Tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1 3/4 cups unsweetened plain almond milk
- 1-2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 Tbsp cornstarch
- Sea Salt
FOR THE TOPPING
- 1/4 cup panko or regular bread crumbs (GF for gluten-free eaters make sure your brand is vegan)
- 1 Tbsp olive oil (or sub vegan butter)
Slice eggplant in slightly less than 1/2-inch rounds and sprinkle both sides with sea salt. Place in a colander in the sink for 20 minutes to drain moisture and draw out any bitter taste.
In the meantime, heat a large skillet over medium heat and add olive oil and the onions. Cook 10-12 minutes – stirring every few minutes. Turn down the heat if browning too quickly. Once caramelized, place in a bowl for later.
Preheat oven to high broil and place an oven rack on the very top rack.
Start pasta water by bringing a large saucepan 3/4 full of water with 1 Tbsp salt to a boil.
Rinse eggplant and dry thoroughly. Arrange on a baking sheet in a single layer and drizzle both sides with olive oil. Broil on high for 3-4 minutes on EACH side until the eggplant is browned (be careful not to burn, just seriously roasted).
Remove eggplant from oven and wrap in foil to steam for 5 minutes. Then peel off skin and add to a blender with almond milk, nutritional yeast, cornstarch and garlic powder. Start with a pinch of salt and add more as you need.
Blend until creamy and smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed, adding more salt, nutritional yeast or garlic powder if desired.
Once pasta water is boiling, add noodles. Cook according to package instructions, then drain and cover with a towel to keep warm.
Pour the eggplant sauce into the same saucepan you used to brown the onions and bring to medium heat. Cook to thicken for about 5 minutes. Once bubbling, lower heat to low/simmer and stir occasionally until noodles are ready.
If topping dish with breadcrumbs, heat a small saucepan over medium-high heat and add olive oil or vegan butter. Than add breadcrumbs and stir. Cook for about 5 minutes until light brown and toasted. Set aside.
Add drained noodles to the eggplant sauce in the large saucepan, along with half of the caramelized onions and stir to coat. NOTE: If your saucepan is NOT oven safe, transfer the mixture to an oven-safe dish at this time.) Smooth the top with your spatula or spoon and top with remaining caramelized onions and the toasted panko bread crumbs.
OPTIONAL: Preheat oven to high broil once more and move an oven rack to the 2nd level from the top. Once hot, place macaroni under the broiler to toast for 1-2 minutes or until golden brown on top. BE CAREFUL not to burn as it can go fast. Don’t walk away.
Remove from oven using an oven mitt and serve immediately. Leftovers don’t tend to reheat well with this dish as the noodles absorb the sauce. Best when fresh.
GREEN BEAN VINAIGRETTE
- 1 pound green beans
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 5 tablespoons good olive oil
- Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil over high heat. In the meantime, snap the stem ends off the beans and rinse them under cold water. Fill a bowl with ice water and set it near the sink.
- When the water is boiling rapidly, add the beans to the pot. Cook them for a couple minutes, until bright green and just tender. Drain them and quickly transfer them to the bowl of ice water. Stir the beans around a little, and once they're cool, drain them again. Lay the beans out on a kitchen towel to dry completely. Cut the beans in half, or leave them whole if you prefer.
- To make the vinaigrette, combine both the vinegars with the mustard, honey and a few generous pinches of salt in a small bowl. Whisk until smooth. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, whisking continuously, until the dressing is emulsified. Taste and add more salt or honey if you like. You can also put all of the vinaigrette ingredients in a jar, seal it tightly and shake vigorously to combine -- which is what I usually do.
- Put the beans in a bowl, add a few tablespoons of the vinaigrette and toss well. Taste and add more dressing if you like before serving. You can store the rest of the vinaigrette in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Any leftover dressed beans will keep in the refrigerator for a few days -- as time passes, they absorb more of the vinaigrette and start to sort of half-pickle, which I actually kind of like.