If you’re scratching your head wondering how it’s possible to make vegan mac and cheese (never mind the best ever), I understand. I mean, we’re talking about a recipe that is famous for its copious amounts of milk, butter, and cheese. Lots of cheese. But this classic comfort food is hands down my vegan daughter’s favorite dish — and I was determined to recreate it without sacrificing flavor.
It took a few tries to get it just right, but this dish nails it. It is so close to the real thing — rich and creamy, with a golden crunchy topping that had everyone in my family (even the carnivores) going for seconds.
We kept things simple here but feel free to mix in some fresh peas or chopped broccoli, a dash or two of hot sauce, or a pinch of cayenne. It freezes beautifully too — simply wait until the dish has cooled completely and then portion it into individual servings (stored in airtight containers or heavy duty zip-top bags).
Vegan Mac and Cheese
adapted from VegWeb
2 1/2 cups elbow macaroni, cooked 1-2 minutes less than the package directions, and drained
1/4 cup non-dairy spread (such as Earth Balance)
1/4 cup flour
2 cups non-dairy milk (I used almond milk but any variety will work)
2 1/2 cups shredded vegan cheese (I’m a fan of Daiya brand)
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast*
salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup panko
1 tablespoon oil
1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a 2-quart oven-safe casserole dish.
2. Melt spread in a large skillet over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook, continuing to whisk, until mixture is tan in color (about 3 minutes). Add milk slowly, whisking continuously, and bring to a boil. Boil for 1-2 minutes and gradually add 1 1/2 cups of the shredded cheese. Add 1 tablespoon of the nutritional yeast, and salt and pepper to taste.
3. Add drained pasta and stir well to combine. Transfer to your prepared casserole dish.
4. In a small bowl combine the remaining 1 cup shredded cheese, 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast, panko, and salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle oil over and stir well to combine. Sprinkle topping over the pasta mixture.
5. Bake 30-40 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and let sit for 10 minutes prior to serving.
*Wondering what nutritional yeast is? Long a staple in vegan cooking, it is an inactive yeast obtained from molasses, typically sold as flakes, that lends a taste and mouthfeel strikingly similar to Parmesan cheese. Most commonly found brands are Red Star and Bob’s Red Mill.More On