Hands-Down the Greatest Vegan Mac N' Cheese You Will Ever Have...Period
So I was recently inspired to create my own vegan macaroni and cheese after a friend told me they loved mac and cheese (who doesn't?!), but were dairy intolerant so couldn't have any of the milk, cheese and butter that normally goes into a traditional mac and cheese. This dish is super creamy (and no, we're not using any of that disgusting "imitation cheese" - no offense to anyone that likes it :P), loaded with tons of flavor and leaps and bounds healthier than a traditional version.
Prep: 10 min
Cook: 20 min
Total: 30 min
Difficulty: Super Easy
8 oz Penne or Macaroni
5 T Earth Balance (or equivalent) Vegan Butter
1 Medium Russet Potato - peeled, sliced into small cubes
1 3/4 c Original, Unflavored Almond (or other nut) Milk
1 Yellow Onion - peeled, sliced into 1 in. round
1 t Canola Oil
1 Medium Carrot - peeled, sliced into small rounds
1 Shallot - minced
3-4 Small Garlic Cloves - minced
1/4 c Vegetable Stock
1/4 c Raw Cashews
3/4 c Panko Bread Crumbs
1/2 t Ground Nutmeg
1/4 t White Pepper
1 t Paprika
1 t Parsley - minced
Salt to taste
FOR THE SAUCE:
- Preheat oven on broil.
- After pre-heating our oven, the first step we're going to take is infuse our milk with the onion and clove, which is going to give our sauce a major kick in flavor. Take your onion round and pin 6 cloves into it.
- Place the onion/clove into a small pot with your almond milk and gently heat on low for about 20 minutes.
- Place potato cubes into pot and cover with cold water. Generously season water with salt.
- Bring potatoes to a boil, then decrease heat to a simmer and cook until tender.
- Heat a pan over medium-low heat. Place carrots in pan and gently sauté for 2 minutes.
- Remove onion from milk and remove cloves, then slice your onion and add to pan with carrots. Add shallots and garlic and gently sauté for 4-5 minutes (all we're doing is tenderizing, which will bring out all of the sugars i.e. sweetness in the carrots and onion).
- Add vegetable stock and simmer until stock has almost completely evaporated.
- Place your vegetables and cooked potatoes in a blender, along with 3 T of vegan butter, your cashews, and infused milk.
- Season with nutmeg, paprika, white pepper and salt to taste.
- Blend on high until mixture is completely smooth. If needed, add a little more milk to adjust consistency.
FOR THE PASTA:
- Place water in pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Season generously with salt (should taste salty like the sea).
- Add pasta and cook until al dente (about 5 minutes give or take).
- Once pasta is cooked, drain and toss with sauce until thoroughly coated. Place into a 9x5 baking pan.
FOR THE TOPPING:
- Melt 2 T vegan butter and pour into bowl with panko bread crumbs (I personally feel panko is the way to go when it comes to anything involving bread crumbs - the texture is fantastic!).
- Mix until bread crumbs are coated in the melted butter.
- Top your mac and cheese with the bread crumb topping, place in oven and bake until golden brown.
Place a couple of heaping spoonfuls in a bowl and sprinkle with a little minced parsley, then curl up on the couch with that special someone and a lovely glass of wine.
This is of course a base mac and cheese recipe. There's a million directions you could take this - adding fresh vegetables, braised short ribs (if not vegan/vegetarian :P), pickled onions - the options are endless! Now get out there and play and come up with your own beautiful creation!