I have always loved mac & cheese. The wonderful creamy goodness satisfies like nothing else can. Bad day at work? Mac & Cheese. Cold and snowy outside? Mac & Cheese. Got the promotion? Mac & Cheese.
Since becoming vegan, it is the one thing I’ve truly missed. I always like cheese and did have a hard time giving it up, but the worst was losing Mac & Cheese. I’ve tried a dozen or so vegan “cheeses” and rarely been able to swallow a single bite. Of course Daiya has changed my world and given back some cheesiness to my life. (Thank you Daiya!)
Still, I’ve tried making pizza with Daiya and have had absolutely no luck. The cheese seems to become this sort of soup like slop invading the pizza to the point where I can’t even scrape it off to salvage the rest. I ordered a vegan pizza from Whole Foods and was so excited as I’d heard good things, but this was no different than what I’d managed on my own. I gave up for a bit on doing anything with Daiya that involved much heat as I was convinced that this is where things went wonky.
Fortunately D’s love of Mac & Cheese wore me down. I’d made non-vegan Mac & Cheese for him a couple of times since moving back to Dallas and each time I stared at it longingly. Finally I broke. I searched and searched for a Mac & Cheese recipe with Daiya that I thought had any hope of working and came across this recipe. It wasn’t just good. I truly believe it is the best Mac & Cheese I’ve ever had vegan or non. It is so good that when I make it, I want D and my roomates to eat some just because I want them to say they will no longer eat the other stuff and I can make only vegan Mac & Cheese from now on…..but really I don’t want to share it because I want all of it myself.
Give this a try and let me know what you think!
16oz package of elbow macaroni or pasta of choice
3 cups shredded Daiya Cheddar Cheese
3 tablespoons vegan butter
3 tablespoons flour
2 to 2 1/2 cups* unsweetened rice or soy milk
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Salt to taste
1/4 teaspoon paprika
Enough panko bread crumbs to liberally cover (I used an “Italian” flavored variety)
Red chili flakes to taste (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cook pasta about 5 minutes until it’s just tender. Don’t cook all the way or it will fall apart when you bake it.
3. Drain pasta and transfer to greased baking dish. I packed it all into a smaller 8×10 dish so it would set up nice and thick.
4. Mix in about 2/3′s of the cheese into the pasta and set aside.
5. In a small pot melt the butter. Add the salt & pepper, then whisk in the flour until combined. Stir in the milk. Keep stirring until it starts to boil, then keep stirring for about another minute until it thickens up. *(Start with 2 cups of milk but if sauce gets too thick just add a little bit more, you don’t want it to be like a paste, just a thickened liquid).
6. Pour the milk mixture into the pasta and mix everything well. Top with the remaining cheese. Cover everything with a generous layer of breadcrumbs. Give the whole thing a light dusting of paprika.
7. Pop in the oven for 30 minutes or until the cheese is bubbling and top is starting to brown. If you like it spicy sprinkle some of the chili flakes on top when serving.