Vegan “Gouda” Mac and Cheese w/ Peaches & Veggie Pancetta.

Every year, I always dread the arrival of summer because it gets so hot in Los Angeles. I am lucky enough to have air conditioning and a covered carport, which means my apartment stays comfy enough to cook inside with the oven on and my car doesn’t become an oven itself sitting out in the sun. It’s a good life.

When summer finally does roll around, I find that instead of lamenting how hot it is, I am totally and completely inspired because all of our California produce is so incredible. We have tomatoes in almost every color of the rainbow and stone fruit that outshines even the rarest of gems. While I love all stone fruit, peaches edge out cherries as my favorite. There is nothing better than a plump, juicy, sweet summer peach and there is nothing worse than a hard, dry, out of season peach. They are perfect for eating on their own, lend themselves beautifully to baking up sweet treats and are surprisingly complimentary to many savory dishes.

M&M Peach Ranch a couple of years back.
M&M Peach Ranch a couple of years back.

In the past, I have used peaches to replace tomatoes in vegan caprese, I have skewered them with vegan cheese, smokey tofu and sweet red onions and now I’ve put them in macaroni and cheese. I can’t take credit for the idea though. It comes from My Name is Yeh. What I can take credit for, is making what I think is a swell animal free version of this creamy dish. It’s easy and no roux required.

Vegan “Gouda” Mac and Cheese w/ Peaches & Veggie Pancetta

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Ingredients:

4 oz homemade vegan pancetta** (see recipe below using tofu) or store bought veggie bacon like Upton’s brand

2 tbsp Earth Balance buttery spread

1 white onion, sliced

yellow peaches, peeled and chopped

1 lb orecchiette 

1 1/2 c vegan cheese–I used a blend of Daiya’s Gouda block plus Miyoko’s Creamery Smoked Farmhouse (both shredded with a cheese grater) 

1 c So Delicious Greek yogurt in plain

Salt and  fresh black pepper to taste

Method:

In medium skillet over medium heat, add your Earth Balance to melt. Once the pan is hot, add your onions and veggie pancetta. Hit it with a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook until the onions begin to soften, then add the peaches. I chose not to caramelize the onions because that was going to make the dish too sweet for my taste. Cook for around 4-5 min, then remove from heat and set aside.

Cook pasta in salted water according to the directions on the box. Reserve 1/4-1/2c of the cooking liquid and then drain, but don’t let it cool. In a large mixing or serving bowl, mix the yogurt and cheeses with an additional hit of salt and pepper–go easy on the salt though–you can always add more 🙂 Add a bit of pasta water to the yogurt and cheese, then add the pasta while it is still hot. Add the veggie pancetta, onions and peaches, then mix. The cheese sauce will melt as you mix the pasta. Taste for salt and enjoy!

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**For homemade pancetta

Ingredients:

12 oz baked firm tofu

6 tbsp soy sauce

2 tbsp Bragg’s liquid aminos

4 tsp Better Than Bouillon No Beef Broth paste dissolved in 1/2 c warm water

1-2 tsp liquid smoke

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp onion powder

2 tbsp olive oil

Method:

Slice the baked tofu into little squares–not too thick. Place the diced tofu in a shallow, airtight container. Whisk together the rest of the ingredients very well, then pour over the diced tofu. Allow the tofu to marinate for a about 2 hours.
Drain the tofu well before using and allow to bake in a warm oven for about 5-10 min to dry it out a bit or you can do this in a pan.

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