We all have cravings that need indulging on occasion. I won’t hazard a guess at your comfort food Achilles heel, but I will give you two satisfying recipes for your weekly winter rotation. I myself have a particular weakness for both pasta and potatoes of every persuasion. The following two recipes help me transition into the cooler months, providing some of the hearty fare I crave during winter.
Recipes, photography and styling by Elisabeth Chieng of The Gluten Free Table.
My vegan mac and cheese will fool you into thinking you're over indulging. Considering the sauce is made with a base of potatoes, onion and carrot, you have nothing to be ashamed of. My vegan mac and cheese was made to star alongside cold nights, warming knits and a generous glass of your favourite red wine. All elements play their part and deliver the kind of solitary evening I adore.
My loaded sweet potato fries are another story, created to be shared amongst friends. They can be vegan or, if you’re like me, you can add sour-cream as a topping. There’s something about the tangy richness of sour-cream that I’m loathe to forgo. Considering the recipe is a triumph in healthy cooking, I don’t think anyone will deny you a drizzle of the perfect accompaniment.
So wherever you might find yourself during the winter months, indulge yourself a little and nurture yourself even more.
Vegan mac and cheese
1 packet of pasta elbows or penne (gluten-free if required)
1 cup peeled/diced potatoes
1/2 cup peeled/diced carrots
1/2 chopped onion
3/4 cup water, reserved from pasta
1/2 cup raw cashews
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon smoked salt (or more to taste)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
Micro herbs, to serve
Cook pasta according to packet instructions, reserving 3/4 of the cooking liquid for the pasta sauce.
Cook the onion, carrot and potato in lightly salted boiling water until tender. Drain and add to a high speed blender along with remaining ingredients. Blend to a smooth and creamy consistency, adding water to thin if required.
Stir through the warm pasta and serve immediately.
Loaded sweet potato fries
1 large or 2 small sweet potatoes
1kg sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into fries
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 can of chickpeas (400g)
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon chilli powder
Salt and pepper to taste
Extra virgin olive oil
Micro herbs, to serve (substitute coriander if you have trouble finding the micro herbs)
Sour-cream, as required (vegan if preferred), to serve
Lime cheeks, to serve
Preheat your oven to 200C. Toss the sweet potato fries in the oil then add the spices, mixing well to ensure fries are evenly coated. Spread them out on two rimmed baking sheets, lined with non-stick baking paper. Bake until brown and crisp on the bottom, about 15 minutes, then flip and cook until the other side is crisp, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, drain, rinse and dry your chickpeas then place them in a large bowl. Drizzle with some olive oil, and then sprinkle on spices, salt and pepper. Mix until all the chickpeas are coated, then transfer to a large frying pan and cook over medium heat until lightly toasted, about 6-7 minutes, stirring regularly. If the chickpeas start to explode, turn the heat down.
To serve, add sweet potatoes to a serving plate or bowl, top with the chickpeas and micro herbs. Add a few generous dollops of sour-cream and enjoy immediately.