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Cauliflower mac ’n’ jack with crispy caper bites
Masterchef finalist and author of 'My Vegan Travels' cookbook, Jackie Kearney, has created a fabulously creamy, cheesy and indulgent macaroni cheese that's completely dairy-free and low in calories too!
Prep Time 25 min + soaking
Cooking Time 40 min
- Spray cooking oil
- 1 cauliflower, cut into large florets
- 200g macaroni or penne
- 1 litre almond milk
- 2 bay leaves
- A few sprigs fresh thyme
- 100g cashew nuts, soaked in water for 2 hr
- 3tbsp vegetable oil
- 2tbsp plain flour
- 4–5tbsp (to taste) nutritional yeast flakes
- 3tsp English mustard (or 2tsp mustard powder)
- 2tsp onion powder (available from buywholefoodsonline.co.uk)
- 1tsp sweet smoked paprika
- ½tsp white pepper
- 60ml Jack Daniels or other whisky (or to taste) or water
- 1tbsp grated vegan parmesan-style cheese (optional)
- For the crispy caper bites
- 1–2tbsp capers (or green olives), chopped
- 1tbsp cornflour
- 1tsp rock salt
- 1tsp vegetable oil
- Heat the oven to 220°C/fan 200°C/gas 7. Spray a large baking tray with oil and spread out the cauliflower florets on it. Bake for 20 min until starting to turn golden and brown.
- Meanwhile, cook the pasta in unsalted boiling water for 4 min less than pack instructions, then drain, reserving a little of the cooking water. In a small pan, heat the almond milk over a low heat with the bay leaves and thyme. Bring to a gentle simmer, then remove from the heat and leave the herbs to infuse. Drain the cashews, then blend to a fine paste in a food processor.
- In a deep frying pan, heat the vegetable oil over a medium heat. Add the flour and whisk together to make a roux, cooking gently for 2–3 min. Strain the milk into a jug, then add slowly to the roux, a little at a time, whisking constantly over a low heat until all the milk is combined and you have a thick and creamy sauce. Add the nutritional yeast, mustard, onion powder, paprika and pepper. Add the blended cashews and whisky or water, stirring to combine. Remove from the heat.
- In a large bowl, mix the pasta and the sauce, then add the cauliflower florets and combine, adding a little of the reserved pasta water if dry (there should be plenty of sauce). Tip into a large baking dish, then bake for 15–20 min.
- In a bowl, whisk all the pancake ingredients apart from the spray oil and yogurt together until smooth. Leave to sit for 10 min, then stir again.
- Meanwhile, to make the crispy caper bites, lay the capers or olives on kitchen paper to dry. On a small plate, mix together the cornflour and rock salt and toss the capers or olives in this mixture. Lay them on a roasting tray and toss in 1tsp vegetable oil, then bake on a medium-high heat for a few min until crisp and golden. Drain on kitchen paper.
- Sprinkle the caper bites over the top of the baked cauliflower pasta. Add a grind of black pepper and add a sprinkling of vegan cheese, if using. Serve with a large side salad if you want to bulk it out.