It seems like ages ago when my cookbook author friend Zel Allen asked me to test for her Vegan for the Holidays cookbook. Way back in 2010, I tested her Harvest Succotash, and my was it delicious! I knew Zel's tome of celebration feasts designed especially for the time between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day would be amazing.
Well, the book is finally out and I got my very own autographed, complimentary copy in the mail a couple weeks ago. Chapters are divided by holidays, so there's a section for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzza, and New Year's. Oh, and there are a couple of photo spreads packed with homey photos of decadent holiday spreads.
When flipping through, the Mac 'n' Cheese picture caught my eye first. I'm a sucker for trying every vegan mac & cheese recipe on the planet. Plus, I wanted to make something that could double as an any time meal, since the holidays are still (thankfully) a few months off. That mac 'n' cheese recipe was hanging out in the Kwanzza section just one page over from a recipe for Jamaican Jerk Tofu. Both sounded anytime enough for me.
Look at that gorgeous Jamaican Jerk Tofu:
It's marinated in a gingery, cumin-laced, hot pepper sauce and then baked in the oven. The maple syrup in the marinade provided the perfect level of savory-sweet. Oh, and those peppers I used for garnish? They're Thai hot chilies from our very own front yard hot pepper garden (yes, we're even growing ghost peppers ... more on that some other day).
Now let's talk Mac 'n' Cheese:
To be honest, I've never met a vegan mac 'n' cheese I didn't like. Cashew sauce, nooch-based sauce, from a bag, from a box, whatever. I'll eat it, and I'll proclaim it to be the best thing I ever tasted (I do that a lot if you haven't noticed). But for real this time: Zel's mac was soooooo creamy and perfect. The secret was melted vegan cheese shreds. There's not a drop of nooch in this sauce, and it was so very cheesy.
I've never actually made my own mac 'n' cheese using vegan cheese shreds. Not that I haven't wanted to, but vegan cheese is kinda pricey, and I'm too cheap to buy more than one bag at a time. This recipe called for both vegan cheddar and vegan mozzarella, which if purchasing Daiya or Galaxy shreds could have cost almost $10. Fine for holiday entertaining, but a little pricey for one of my everyday meals.
But Galaxy has been so generous! They sent me more samples of their vegan shreds, so I happened to have a bag of Mexi-Style Shreds and a bag of Mozzarella Shreds just sitting around. I subbed the Mexi-Style for the Cheddar. The Galaxy cheeses melted beautifully, and the sauce stayed creamy even after baking with breadcrumbs on top.
Here's a full plate shot with a side of Steamed Kale (tossed with soy sauce, mirin, sriracha, and garlic):
As for the rest of Vegan for the Holidays, it's loaded with harvest time meals and yuletide treats making it a must-have for this coming holiday season. I mean, would your Un-Turkey Day be complete without Savory Lentil Terrine with Mushroom-Wine Sauce, Mashed Potatoes with Onion-Chardonnay Gravy, or Apple Crisp?
And what would Christmas be without Tomato-Pine Nut Pie with Sweet Potato and Nut Crust or Wassail? Hanukkah is incomplete without Mushroom-Barley Cholent and Potato Latkes with Tofu Sour Cream. The New Year's section is really special because Zel includes recipes for a first of the year soup and chili bash. I think her New Year's Resolution Soup (made with healthy cabbbage, rice noodles, shiitakes, and broccoli) will be a new tradition for me this year.