Throughout the ages, there are few comfort foods that have been more comforting than mac ‘n’ cheese.
It’s probably a product of my upbringing. As a child, my favourite things to eat were a blue box of mac ‘n’ cheese, or a grilled cheese sandwich made with those fake cheese slices. Nutritional value of zero, but soooo good.
As an adult, my tastes have refined, and as a mother, I want to feed my child more nutritionally-dense food. So we very seldom have mac ‘n’ cheese from a box. I keep a box in cupboard for emergencies and camping trips (Annie’s is his preferred brand), but for the most part, any mac ‘n’ cheese consumed in our house is homemade.
That means I get to put in high-fibre noodles, and craft the sauce from whole ingredients.
I’ve tried making vegan mac ‘n’ cheese before, using basically exactly the same method as I would were I not making it vegan: a beschamel (made with vegan butter or margarine), non-vegan milk, and non-dairy cheese like Daiya. It’s good. I’m not putting it down. But I recently stumbled across a recipe that used vegetables to make the sauce and I knew I needed to give that a try. Sneaking more vegetables into my child’s diet??! Oh, yeah, that’s for me!
The thing that shocked me about making this (besides how simple it is to make) was how much like actual cheese sauce it looked! It really, really fools your brain.
As for taste, it doesn’t have the same sharpness you get from adding an aged cheddar or an applewood smoked gouda. Although adding a few drops of hickory does help, and the nooch, as always, makes it tasty.
So; final conclusion: looks like mac ‘n’ cheese, doesn’t exactly taste like traditional mac ‘n’ cheese, but is still quite yummy on its own merits. Try it!
Vegan Mac ‘n’ Cheese
(adapted from Blendtec)
- 2 cups small pasta, macaroni or shells, gluten free if you like
- 2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- ¾ tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp paprika
- ½ tsp sea salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- 4 drops hickory flavouring
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast
- ½ cup non-dairy cheese (optional)
- panko bread crumbs
- Peel the carrots and potatoes and cut them into 1″ dice. Place in a pot and fill it up with water until the vegetables are submerged. Place on the stove, bring to a boil, and allow to cook until they are quite soft, 15-20 minutes. Drain and allow to cool slightly.
- Cook your pasta in salted water until al dente. Drain, but reserve the pasta water. Set aside while you make the sauce.
- Place all of the ingredients (except for the pasta) in your blender and blend well until the sauce is creamy and smooth, scraping down the bowl if necessary.
- Return the pasta to the pot over low heat, and add a cup of the sauce and the non-dairy cheese, if using. Stir well to combine and heat through and allow the cheese to melt. If it’s too thick, add a little pasta water or non-dairy milk to get the right consistency. Taste and add more salt if needed.
- Serve in individual bowls, with a panko breadcrumbs sprinkled over top for crunch.