During my slow transition to veganism over the past year and a half or so, I made one pledge to myself: find a way to approximate mac and cheese. If it can’t be done, abandon the diet. I’m serious. Many vegetarians say things like “I could never give up cheese,” which I sort of understand. But with me, it was more of a mac-n-cheese-specific issue. It’s the ultimate comfort food, and I am firmly convinced that many people continue to eat dairy because they think a vegan mac and cheese can’t be done without it tasting like feet.
Welll, it can. I have been experimenting in the kitchen with different ways to pull this off for over a year. Many, many of the results were inedible and in no way resembled what is known as mac and cheese. But once I got my vegan cheese base right, I finally was able to perfect this recipe. This is delicious (though please remember that–though it is lower in saturated fat, has no cholesterol at all, and is more animal friendly than the original–it is still made with white pasta and is fairly high calorie)!
*Oh, and–as a bonus–this does not contain any of that nasty, science-experiment-in-a-bag otherwise known as Daiya Cheese. That stuff is disgusting, and don’t let any vegan ever try to tell you differently.
500 grams (about a pound) of your favorite pasta (I chose the large macaroni, though penne, rigatoni, shells, or bowties all work.)
3 Tbsp canola oil
3 Tbsp flour
500 mL (2 cups) vegetable broth (or 2 cups of water with 2 tsp vegetable bouillon)
500 mL (2 cups) vegan cheese base
1/2 cup breadcrumbs mixed with:
2 tbsp canola oil, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper.
*Preheat oven to 175C (350F).
*Start boiling water for pasta; cook just prior to al dente (about 10 minutes). It will finish cooking while baking in the oven; if you cook it all the way in the beginning, the final product will be mushy. You can throw in the pasta and then moniter it while working on the sauce.
*In a medium saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat.
*Add the flour, and mix into a paste. Cook until it darkens to a deeper yellow, about 5-7 minutes.
*Add the vegetable broth and whisk constantly. It should begin thickening fairly quickly. (Note: it will not be quite as thick as a gravy or the beschamel sauce you’re used to, but it will thicken when the next ingredient is added. So don’t lose your shit.)
*Once the sauce has thickened, add 500 mL (2 cups) of the vegan cheese base and stir well.
*Taste and add salt if necessary.
*Mix pasta and sauce and pour into a large baking dish.
*Top with the breadcrumb mixture, and bake for 25 minutes or until top is golden brown.
PS: I am still working on the vegan “meat” loaf I served this with. It tasted okay, but is not quite up to the standard that would allow me to actually share the recipe. So be patient.
I’m not telling you how to steam spinach. Look that shit up.