Vegans, rejoice! The halcyon days of macaroni & cheese may not be as far behind as you think.
Having spent many days in hot pursuit of a suitable substitute for our long-lost macaroni dinner, and having tasted many veganized versions of our beloved classic (some more successful than others), we can say with all confidence that this is incontestably the best vegan macaroni & cheese we’ve ever gotten our hot little hands on (as the near-empty casserole dish will attest).
Initially, our intention was to approximate the neon-yellow Kraft Dinner of old, but this recipe turned out far more sophisticated than we could have predicted: rich, creamy and kicking out serious flavour, this is mac & cheese for grown-ups. Dress it up with sliced green onion and crumbled smoked tofu, or go classic with a healthy dose of ketchup: either way, you’re going to be a happy camper.
Serves 4 big appetites.
What you’ll Need
– 1 lb. macaroni, cooked and drained
– 3 T. vegan margarine
– 1 T. vegetable oil
– 1/3 c. flour
– 2 c. vegetable broth
– 1 c. almond milk
– 3/4 c. nutritional yeast
– 3/4 c. cashews, soaked in water
– 3 cloves garlic
– 3 T. tamari
– 1 1/2 T. tahini
– 1 T. grainy dijon mustard
– 1 T. lemon juice
– 2 t. red miso paste
– 1 t. turmeric
– 1/2 t. smoked paprika
– 1/4 t. fresh ground black pepper
– 1/8 t. white pepper
– pinch cayenne
– pinch nutmeg
In a small bowl, add cashews and enough water to cover (roughly 1 c.), and let soak for about an hour until soft. Drain and set aside.
Combine almond milk, 1 c. vegetable broth, nutritional yeast, cashews, miso paste, tamari, tahini, garlic and mustard into a blender or food processor, and blend until smooth.
In a large saucepan, heat margarine and vegetable oil over medium-low heat until melted. Next, gradually add flour to the mixture and stir well to incorporate (there shouldn’t be any lumps). You now have a roux! Let the roux cook over medium-low heat until lightly-toasted.
Once toasted, it is time to add your blended liquid to the saucepan. Add slowly, stirring frequently to avoid lumps. Your sauce should begin to thicken almost immediately upon contact with the roux. Add the remaining seasonings as the sauce thickens over medium-low heat. Remove from heat and let stand for a minute or two.
Author’s Note: You may notice that your sauce gets quite thick once removed from the heat. We left our’s as is (to excellent effect), but you may add an additional 1/2 c. of vegetable broth to suit your mac & cheese sensibilities.
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Pour sauce onto your cooked macaroni, stirring until the noodles are completely coated in nutty, saucy goodness. Transfer macaroni & cheese to a greased 9″x13″ casserole dish, and top with breadcrumbs and a dusting of paprika for added effect. Cover casserole with aluminum foil, and bake for 20 minutes; uncover and bake for an additional 5 – 10 minutes, so the noodles get suitably crispy and brown around the edges. Remove from heat and dig in (but be careful – it’ll go fast)!