Macrobiotic Macaroni and Cheese

Macaroni and cheese is the ultimate comfort food! When the weather starts to turn cold, give this hearty vegan version a try. It is packed with nutrients from winter squash, carrots, and miso, and contains no cheese substitutes like nutritional yeast or soy-based cheeses.It can easily be made gluten-free by using a gluten-free variety of pasta. Although this recipe does not fall into the “quick and easy” category, it is worth the effort as it is so nourishing and delicious!

There are some ingredients that need explaining in this recipe.

  1. Be sure to use raw cashews. When soaked, raw cashews will become soft and can be blended to create a very creamy texture. For savory dishes, discard the sweet soaking water.
  2. Kombu is used in preparing the squash and carrots for the cheese sauce. It is a sea vegetable high in iodine and other beneficial minerals and enhances the flavor of whatever you are cooking.
  3. Ume plum vinegar (a.k.a. umeboshi vinegar) is a healthful sour and salty condiment that adds amazing flavor to sauces and dressings, and is actually not technically a vinegar (it is the salt brine used to pickle the ume plum). You can find it in the Asian aisle of most health food stores, or you can purchase it online. The Eden brand is most easy to find.
  4. Red or sweet white miso is called for in this recipe to create the cheesy taste of the sauce. Red miso will give more depth of flavor, more like an aged cheddar cheese, and sweet white miso will give a lighter flavor, more like an American cheese. Be sure to use miso that is unpasteurized and made with sea salt like Miso Master or South River Miso. In Austin, you can get both varieties of miso at Wheatsville Coop.
  5. Natto is made from fermented soybeans and has many health benefits. It gives a depth of flavor to the dish that cannot be achieved otherwise. My favorite natto can be ordered online from Mugumi Natto. It is the only organic brand I have been able to find. It freezes well if you would like to order several packages. You can also make your own by purchasing powdered natto starter.
  6. Unsweetened, whole grain mochi is made of steamed sweet brown rice that is pounded until smooth and formed into squares to dehydrate and store. It is 100% whole grain, naturally gluten-free, high in protein, and can be grated and seasoned to use as a topping for casseroles and pizzas. Granaissance, Mitoku, and Eden all make mochi. In Austin, we can find the Eden brand of mochi at Central Market. Grainaissance mochi is more crumbly when grated whereas the Eden and Mitoku brands can be grated into longer shreds, but either one will work in this recipe.

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Macrobiotic Macaroni and Cheese
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Serves: 4-6 servings
Ingredients
Macaroni and "Cheese" Sauce
  • ¼ cup raw cashews
  • 3 cups kabocha or butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 2 cups carrots, cut into1/2-inch rounds
  • 1-inch piece of kombu
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons ume plum vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon unpasteurized red or sweet white miso
  • 1 tablespoon natto (Megumi brand recommended)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • spring or filtered water
  • 12 ounces elbow macaroni, cooked until al dente and drained
Mochi "Cheese" Topping
  • 2 cups plain mochi, grated coarsely
  • 2 teaspoons red or sweet white miso
  • 1 teaspoon ume plum vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • spring or filtered water
Instructions
Macaroni and "Cheese" Sauce
  1. Soak cashews in water for several hours. Drain and set aside.
  2. In heavy pot with lid, place ½ cup water, kombu, squash, carrots, and a pinch of sea salt. Cover and bring to a boil over medium heat. Turn to low and cook about 15 minutes, or until vegetables are tender and easily pierced with a fork. Remove kombu from cooked vegetables.
  3. To make the “cheese” sauce, place the squash, carrots, and their cooking liquid into a food processor along with the soaked and drained cashews, umeboshi vinegar, miso, natto (if using), garlic, and olive oil. Blend until smooth, adding water if needed to get the consistency of a thick soup. Taste for seasonings. If carrots and squash are super sweet, you may need to add a little more miso, sea salt, umeboshi vinegar, and/or olive oil to achieve a more savory flavor.
  4. Place cooked and drained macaroni elbows back into cooking pot. Add “cheese” sauce to coat macaroni. Pour macaroni and “cheese” into an oiled baking dish.
Mochi "Cheese" Topping
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Mix together grated mochi, miso, ume plum vinegar, olive oil, and enough water to thoroughly moisten the mochi (about ½-3/4 cup). Spread mochi mixture on top of the macaroni and “cheese” and bake, covered, for 20-30 minutes (it should be starting to bubble around the edges). Remove foil and melt mochi under the broiler for 2 minutes or until it turns golden brown. Watch closely to avoid burning!

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2 thoughts on “Macrobiotic Macaroni and Cheese”

  1. Made this tonight – it was absolutely delicious. Just returned from a week up at the Kushi Institute, and am trying to find macrobiotic recipes to incorporate. The texture of the “cheese” and the mochi topping really reminded me of the real thing. So glad I stumbled on your website, and looking forward to trying more of your recipes!

    Some things I noticed when I made the recipe: I definitely had to add water to the puree to thin it out. I also ended up using the entire bag of brown rice elbows (12 oz.). It fit perfectly in an 8×8 pyrex. I omitted the natto (did not have any), and my broiler took a bit longer to brown the topping.

    • Hi Paula, thank you so much for trying the recipe and leaving your comment! I’m making this dish again soon for one of my classes and I’ll make some revisions on the recipe– I also noticed last time I made it that it needed more liquid. Sometime try it with natto– this gives it almost an aged cheese taste that is really wonderful. And natto is so good for you. Best of luck on your macrobiotic journey and keep in touch!

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