What happens when you want Mexican and American-Italian at the same time? Answer; this kind of fusion mess. Like all fusion this kind of thing will annoy some people, but I have to say the combination goes really well together. In the picture, I admit it looks a little dry, which it was, not too dry, but it could've been a tiny bit more creamy in texture so I've upped the liquid quantities slightly in the cheese sauce recipe.
This was our last Bank Holiday meal and as such it didn't disappoint. I think we just had a green salad on the side with toasted pepitas and that was all the accompaniment needed. I would have to say, next time I'm thinking of doing a Mac N Cheese I'll do this as it adds a lot extra to have the tempeh layer with it. It gives a great texture and a good counterbalance to the creamy cheese sauce as well as a protein in there with all that pasta.
mexican tempeh mac n' cheese
For the tempeh layer
1/2 pack tempeh (roughly 125g) cubed
2 tbs sunflower oil
1 stick celery
1 tbs tomato paste
1 cup stock or water
1/2 cup chopped tinned tomatoes
1 tbs liquid smoke
2 tsp mexican oregano
1 tsp chipotle powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon
salt and pepper
For the mac and cheese
150g pasta (we found a good wholewheat penne from Biona)
3 cups non-dairy milk
2 cup stock or water
1/3 cup cashews (soaked overnight if possible) then drained and ground into a paste
1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
1/4 cup chickpea flour
3 tbs tahini
1 tbs dijon mustard
1 tbs cider vinegar
salt and pepper
For the topping
- Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and grease a large baking tray
- First make the tempeh layer; set a steamer over a large pan of hot water, or a sieve with a lid over the top and steam your tempeh for 15 minutes. Reserve the water to use for cooking your pasta.
- In the meantime, sauté the celery in the oil and when softened add the tomato paste and a couple of tablespoons of stock. Cook the tomato paste for c couple of minutes, stirring frequently and then add the rest of the ingredients. Turn to a low simmer, crumble the steamed tempeh into the pan and partially cover. Continue to cook for 20 minutes, stirring at intervals until fairly dry.
- Now set the pan of water you used for steaming your tempeh on to boil again. When it reaches boiling point, throw in a little salt and your pasta, then turn down slightly and stir briefly. Cook according to the instructions on side of the pocket of pasta your using. These cary according to shape and flour-type.
- As the pasta is cooking prepare your cheese sauce. Whisk all the rest of the ingredients in a pan and slowly bring to a simmer. Keep whisking to prevent lumps forming as it thickens for about 15 minutes. It should be the texture of pouring cream, you don't want it too thick as it will thicken further as it cooks again in the oven with the pasta.
- When the pasta is cooked, drain and immediately mix with the cheese sauce. Then prepare the bake by layering the tempeh below and a layer of pasta on top. Finish with the Jalapeños and tortilla chips if you have them, or you could use breadcrumbs of chopped nuts.
- Cover with foil and place in the oven for 15 minutes. Then uncover and bake for another 5-7 minutes to brown the top.