I’ve been thinking a lot about mac ‘n’ cheese. Maybe it’s the grey days that makes me crave such a comfort food. Or maybe it’s the fact that I can’t remember the last time I ate it. For many years now I have tried many different diets. Vegetarian, vegan, ovo-vegetarian, raw, elimination… The list goes on. And all in the name of health.
I won’t get into any details but I can tell you that growing up with digestive distress isn’t fun. It took a long time to get to a point where I didn’t want to live the way I was. And many years of diet experiments to figure out what works for me and what doesn’t. Anyways, I can’t have dairy. It’s not as hard as many cheese lovers claim it would be to live without it. But there are certain dishes that you just can’t have. And that’s all there is to it. Or is it?
I got my hands on a cook book by Chloe Coscarelli called Chloe’s Kitchen. It has a vegan mac ‘n’ cheese recipe in it that I had heard good things about. I knew it could be delightful or a total disaster, but you never know until you try, right? So I got all the supplies ready.
I used butter instead of vegan margarine. For whatever reason I can tolerate butter (and goat cheese!) but no other dairy. I don’t like the idea of margarine. I can’t help but wonder what it is doing to us inside. I mean, is it even food?
I chose cellentani noodles instead of traditional macaroni. A large spiral shape that would hold onto the cheesy gooeyness.
After boiling the noodles, I began making the roux and then added the rest of the ingredients.
The nutritional yeast is what gives this sauce it’s “cheesy” flavor. This was my first time really cooking with it and I was not disappointed.
Then I mixed the noodles into the sauce, sprinkled some bread crumbs on top and fired it in the oven.
Now a meal of pasta and “cheese”, as delicious as that sounds, does not have enough balance for me. I require some green things with just about every meal I eat. Half of my breakfast smoothie usually consists of spinach or kale. So side salads were a must, accompanied with dark, winter ale.
The mac ‘n’ cheese turned out great. I doubt it would fool a die hard cheese lover but it definitely hit the spot. And my cheese eating friend devoured it too, going back for seconds! Cheese free mac ‘n’ cheese was a cheesy success!
Chloe Coscarelli’s Best-Ever Baked Macaroni and Cheese
1 pound elbow macaroni (Or whatever pasta you prefer)
1/4 C vegan margarine (I used real butter)
1/4 C all-purpose flour, or gluten free all purpose flour
3 C soy, almond or rice milk
1/2 C nutritional yeast flakes
2 Tbsp tomato paste
2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp agave (I used honey)
2 Tbsp seasoned bread crumbs
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9×13 inch pan.
Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Add macaroni and cook according to package directions. Drain and return to pot.
Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, make a roux by whisking the margarine and flour over medium heat for a few minutes until it forms a paste. Add non dairy milk, nutritional yeast, tomato paste, salt and garlic powder to the saucepan and bring to a boil, whisking frequently. Reduce heat to low and let simmer until the sauce thickens. Adjust seasoning to taste and stir in lemon juice and agave. Toss noodles with the sauce and transfer to the prepared pan. Sprinkle bread crumbs on top of the pasta and bake for 30 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned and crisp. Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.