Vegan Mac & Cheese with Roasted Sriracha Brussels Sprouts

sriracha

Perusing BuzzFeed yesterday afternoon, as a bookseller is wont to do at an info desk on a slow afternoon, I (Julie) came upon a list of a wide variety of things one can make with a bottle of Sriracha. The thought of using Sriracha as an ingredient as opposed to a mere condiment had never occurred to me. I am not what I would consider a Sriracha disciple. My taste buds were raised up North, and while my palette has evolved over the years, my tongue still balks at certain levels of heat. When I consume Sriracha, it is sparingly and with tremendous caution. More than once have I been spurned by that devil rooster.

Yankee palette aside, I am an adventurous cook. Perhaps stirred and combined, sauteed and baked, the rooster would demonstrate a different side of the scalding personality he presents straight out of the squeeze bottle. As I scrolled down the list, I hit first on the Buffalo Sriracha Hummus (holy pajamas, here’s a spoiler: that hummus is spicy!) and, with much enthusiasm, the Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Sriracha-Honey Drizzle.

When I think roasted Brussels Sprouts, I think immediately of Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s Chipotle Mac & Cheese with Roasted Brussels Sprouts. Standing there at the info desk, I had fast visions of a life-changing collision of Sriracha sauce and nutritional yeast. My Saturday night was set.

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Roasting the Brussels Sprouts

I veered off course from the original recipe, which calls for sauteing and roasting the sprouts in coconut oil, salt and pepper, and then offering a mix of honey, Sriracha and soy sauce on the side for dipping. With dreams of sweet and savory little flavor bombs dancing through my head, I sauteed the sprouts in a cast iron pan and then poured the “dip” all over those suckers before putting the pan in the oven. They carmelized into crisp-edged little wonders. In hindsight, I will say I could have used more Sriracha. They weren’t quite as spicy as I’d expected, or perhaps my tongue had already been schooled by the heat of the hummus I’d whipped up earlier and so was better equipped to cope with that rooster. Even without the staggering heat, the sprouts were sweet and sharp and damn good for a recipe that took all of ten minutes to prepare and about a half an hour to cook.

Making the Mac & Cheese

Anticipating a strong flavor presence on the part of the devil rooster, I opted to leave the chipotle peppers out of the Mac and Cheese this time and instead substituted a roasted yellow pepper. (For that hummus I mentioned above, I tossed a roasted orange pepper into the food processor, which I firmly declare was an awesome decision, as that sweet, smoky pepper flavor was a comforting follow-up to the hot body of the rest of the hummus.) I am a big, big fan of this particular Mac & Cheese recipe. Normally, when I want my fill of noochy pasta goodness, I go the cheap girl’s route and dump nutritional yeast and a few seasonings into a pot of cooked pasta. But this was Saturday night and I had Brussels Sprouts and I was going all out, which meant I was soaking those cashews and pulling out my miso, baby. This cheese sauce is remarkably easy. You toss the ingredients into a food processor, hit “On”, dump the finished sauce on cooked pasta, add a few minutes of heat, and you’re done. Why don’t I do this all the time?

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The Finished Product

While the sprouts were mild, the sharp hint of the Sriracha was still there. Next time I think I’ll add two tablespoons of Sriracha to the sprouts instead of just one. The Mac was fantastic, as always, hearty and creamy and so satisfying. From start to finish, this whole meal took about as long as is takes to watch two episodes of Orange is the New Black, which includes pauses in the show to let the food processor do its noisy thing. It was a fine variation on a much-loved recipe.

I Was Not The Only One Intrigued By The Idea of Cooking With Sriracha

This meal was whipped up in the kitchen of an apartment where I was cat-sitting this weekend. There was curiosity on the part of the cat. There was, however, no tasting. Something tells me delicate feline palettes and devil roosters just don’t mix.

What Do You Do With Sriracha?

Eighteen hours after my vegan Sriracha adventure my tongue and taste buds are still here. I’m ready to try anything! Have you ever cooked with Sriracha? Share your success story. Or your epic failure. We don’t judge.

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