I was recently cooking for a family where I was instructed not to use anything green in the food for the kids “because they won’t eat anything green”.
Since I’d been asked specifically by the parents not to use green, I resisted the urge to sneak something in, but I couldn’t help but wonder if the kids would eat green food if it were framed the right way.
With Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham playing in the back of my mind, I came up with this idea of green mac and cheese. The rich cheesy sauce is made from edamame (green soy beans) pureed with soy milk and nutritional yeast. Aside from being creamy, delicious, and fun to eat, it’s also significantly more nutrient dense than the original with none of the cholesterol.
There’s no dairy in this dish, but it has plenty of cheese flavor thanks to some nutritional yeast. If you’re not familiar with these magical yellow flakes, they’re a must-have pantry staple whether you’re vegan or not. Not only do they have a cheesy color and flavor, they’re loaded with amino acids that trigger your umami-sensing taste buds, and can be added to almost anything to give it a little more ummph.
While this comes together in about the time that it takes to boil the macaroni, there is a bit of labor involved in peeling the membrane off of each bean. It’s not necessary if you have a high-speed blender like a Vitamix, but a food processor or regular blender just doesn’t spin fast enough to break down the membranes covering each bean, leaving the sauce with a gritty texture. After shelling the beans, you can get the beans out of their membranes, by squeezing them between your fingers and catching the beans as they fly out. It may take a few minutes, but personally I find it oddly therapeutic, in the same way that popping bubble wrap can be gratifying.
While I didn’t get a chance to feed this green mac and cheese to the green averse kids I was cooking for, I like to imagine them taking a bite and exclaiming:
“Say! I like green mac and cheese! I do!! I like them, Chef-more-please!”
Green Mac and Cheese
- 9 ounces (250 grams) dry macaroni
- 4.5 ounces (about 3/4 cup) shelled edamame with membranes removed
- 3/4 cup unsweetened soy milk
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 1/4 teaspoon salt (to taste)
- Boil the macaroni according to the package directions in salted water.
- Put the peeled edamame, milk, nutritional yeast and salt in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth.
- When the pasta is done, drain it and stir in the green "cheese" sauce.
Yield: 3-4 servings
Marc Matsumoto is a culinary consultant and recipe repairman who shares his passion for good food through his website norecipes.com. For Marc, food is a life long journey of exploration, discovery and experimentation and he shares his escapades through his blog in the hopes that he inspires others to find their own culinary adventures. Marc’s been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, and has made multiple appearances on NPR and the Food Network.