Vegan Mac and Cheese

Vegan Mac and Cheese

Prep Time: 10 min Cook Time: 30 min Total Time: 40 min Servings: 6

One of my biggest struggles after switching to a plant-based diet was that I desperately wanted to find delicious mac and cheese that lived up to my memories of the ooey-gooey, cheesy liquid gold of my childhood. However, every time I would order mac and cheese at a vegan restaurant, I was always disappointed. Either the texture was great but the flavor was underwhelming or the flavor was great but the texture was mushy. Faced with this disappointing dichotomy, I set out to make a recipe that had both great texture and amazing flavor. Through A LOT of trial and error, we fine-tuned this recipe, and the result is a guilt-free indulgence that we are officially addicted to (literally - we make this almost every Friday night to celebrate the end of a long week at work)! It tastes so incredibly cheesy, with a rich depth of flavor from the nutmeg, cayenne, and mustard powder. We also love how quick and easy it is to make and how versatile it is as either a side or an entrée! No matter how you use it, this mac and cheese is a rich, indulgent dish that will impress vegans and non-vegans alike!

Pairings: 

Ingredients:

For Mac and Cheese:

  • 3 tbsp vegan butter (we use Earth Balance!)

  • 8 cloves garlic, minced

  • 3 tbsp all-purpose flour (cornstarch if making GF)

  • 2 cups unsweetened plain almond milk

  • 1 1/2 tsp salt

  • 6-7 turns fresh-cracked black pepper

  • 8 tbsp nutritional yeast

  • 1 1/2 tsp ground mustard

  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

  • 1/8 tsp ground cayenne pepper

  • 2 tbsp tapioca flour (also called tapioca starch)

  • 1 package of elbow macaroni (if making GF, we highly recommend Tinkyada)

For Topping:

  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs

  • 2 tbsp olive oil

  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder

  • 1/2 tsp salt

  • 10-12 fresh sage leaves (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375° F (190° C). Boil a pot of water for the pasta. Add salt to taste.

  2. While waiting for the the water to boil, melt the butter in a skillet on medium-high heat. Sauté minced garlic in butter until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. Tip: You can save yourself a ton of time with a garlic press like this one

  3. When garlic is fragrant but not yet browning, add the 3 tbsp of flour and whisk until incorporated. Allow the flour mixture to cook for 1-2 minutes to cook off the flour flavor. Pour in the unsweetened almond milk 1/2 cup at a time, whisking away lumps between pours (since you will use a blender - don't worry if you can't get out all the lumps). 

  4. Once the milk is incorporated and the mixture is bubbling, carefully pour or scoop the mixture into a high-speed blender. Add the salt, pepper, nutritional yeast, ground mustard, ground nutmeg, ground cayenne pepper, and tapioca starch to the blender. Blend on high, scraping down the sides of the blender as needed, until the mixture is thick and creamy. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed, adding more nutritional yeast for cheesiness, mustard or nutmeg for depth of flavor, cayenne for heat, or salt to make the other flavors pop more. Tip: If the mixture is too watery, add more tapioca starch 1 tsp at a time until it thickens up a bit. If 2-3 tsp. doesn't do the trick, pour the mixture back into your skillet and whisk over medium-low heat until the sauce begins to thicken.

  5. Add pasta to boiling water and cook according to the directions on the package. When done boiling, drain and set aside.

  6. Combine the drained pasta and the cheese sauce. Pour mixture into a 9x13 inch glass pan.

  7. Combine the breadcrumbs, olive oil, garlic powder, and salt in a small bowl. Once combined, crumble breadcrumb mixture evenly over the mac and cheese.

  8. Bake the mac and cheese for approximately 20 minutes or until the breadcrumbs begin to brown and the cheese is bubbling.

  9. Scoop out the bubbly, gooey liquid gold and enjoy! 

Optional: Sauté 10-12 sage leaves in vegan butter over medium-high heat for 1-2 minutes until crispy. Place on paper towel-lined plate to soak up the remaining butter. Crumble crispy sage on mac and cheese after removing from the oven.

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