2.17.2011

baked mac and cheese

Someone asked me to try my hand at making a really good Macaroni and Cheese. Because there are so many ways to approach making a vegan mac and cheese, I decided to do it one kind of way at a time.  

The most obvious way - and the approach that I took here - was to use vegan cheeses that are available on the market.

While it is delightful to have access to Daiya, it is more important to use at least two different brands of vegan cheese. Why? One brand might have one flavor covered and another will have a different take on what makes a vegan cheese taste good. While vegan cheese has come a long way over the past decade, incorporating as many different kinds as you can (at least two) makes a huge difference in the overall flavor.

This recipe uses a simple bechamel (white) sauce to add body (and not just fat) to the cheese sauce. Then it is tossed with slightly undercooked pasta, topped with bread crumbs and baked.

Because the mac and cheese is baked, it does not have the overtly creaminess that the new Amy's vegan mac and cheese does (which thrilled my youngest daughter) but is still creamy and totally delicious. When baking, the pasta absorbs some of the sauce. If you want to keep it really creamy don't bake it (but make sure to use properly cooked pasta). If you still want the topping, add it and broil it for a few minutes until the bread crumbs are golden.

I used quinoa pasta and Follow Your Heart and Daiya brands of cheese.

This is like what your mom used to make (not from the box, though - that recipe will be coming in the future), just better since it is vegan.


Cost Breakdown

pasta: $3
vegan butter, flour, spices: $.75
nondairy milk: $.75
FYH, Daiya: $7
bread crumbs: $.50
Total to make 5 servings:
$12.00





6 comments:

  1. Ooooh I love vegan baked mac and cheese with a shot of tabasco and of course Daiya and follow your heart. Mmmm mmmm good!

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  2. Might I suggest that one method involve absorption? You make a thin sauce and cook the noodles in it so they absorb the flavors and thicken the sauce with their starches. Mmm. Works really well with cream-type sauces, less well with tomato sauces.

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  3. GiGi - right there with ya with Tabasco. Mmmmm mmmm good!

    Thanks for the thought, Thryn! Great idea and tends to work really well with any pasta that isn't baked for a while or isn't simmered for a while. Although simering the semi-undercooked-pasta in sauce is the only way to make excellent pasta (even with tomato based sauces), I find that baking or simmering a pasta for more than a few minutes allows the pasta to absorb too much of the sauce as it is. In this case, cooking the pasta in the sauce makes no difference in getting a better result - too much of the sauce is still absorbed by the pasta.

    This is great advice for making pasta the regular way, though. Thanks!

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  4. I made this with a few variations. I did not have quite enough daiya (I used mostly cheddar with a little mozzarella) so I used some nutritional yeast to boost the cheesy flavor.
    I used So Delicious original unsweetened milk. I was out of paprika so I used a flavored salt and actually added that at smoked sea salt and pepper for added flavor.
    I also did not bake it as I don't have any bread made or crushed Chex like I sometimes use.

    The adults have enjoyed it but the kids aren't quite as sold on vegan cheeses but they are not complaining and that is pretty big!

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  5. What bread crumbs do you use that are vegan?

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    Replies
    1. I get Whole Foods brand or make my own. Just take two or three pieces of bread and grind them up in a blender or food processor. Voila! Bread crumbs! Thanks for visiting!

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