(Almost) Vegan Baked Mac n’ “Cheese”

30 Sep

With a chill in the air and the leaves blowing, there is nothing like a cozy pasta dish to rear in the season. This baked pasta casserole is almost, but not exclusively, vegan.

The non-vegan part of the dish comes from using a bit of butter to make the roux, as well as some nonfat dairy milk (you could easily use vegan margarine/butter and unsweetened soy, almond, or rice milk).

I was just using up what I already had in the fridge…baby steps…

BUT, instead of cheese, I used nutritional yeast. All hail nutritional yeast. Gettin’ in some B vitamins and protein with significantly less saturated fat and cholesterol than your typical baked mac.

There’s a dash of tomato paste (I already had some in my freezer ready to go) and a bit of garlic powder, with a squeeze of lemon and a splash of agave. These flavors come together and taste just. like. cheese.

There’s also some spinach in the mix to balance this carb-tastic meal with a vegetable.

What’s that crazy-looking stuff on top? Triscuits. I had the crackers laying around and they added a great salty crunch. You could crush up any cracker you like, or you could use bread crumbs for a more classy aesthetic.

I shared a vegan mac n’ cheese recipe on the blog before, but I think this one is way better. I just prefer baked mac…creamy and crispy all in one.

You may also want to check out this Vegan Fettuccine Alfredo that I made from Chloe Coscarelli’s cookbook. I kid you not, it tastes like traditional fettuccine alfredo. Vegan magic!

Almost Vegan Baked Mac n’ “Cheese”

adapted from Chloe’s Kitchen

makes a 9 x 13 inch pans-worth

1 pound elbow macaroni (you could use whole wheat if you find a version, I also think shell-shaped would work great)

1/4 cup vegan butter/margarine (I used regular butter)

1/3 cup flour (I used all-purpose)

3 cups unsweetened soy/almond/rice milk (I used nonfat dairy milk)

1/2 cup nutritional yeast

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 teaspoon garlic powder

2 teaspoons salt

fresh ground pepper, to taste

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon agave

5 oz fresh spinach or a bunch of chard or kale

2-3 tablespoons crushed crackers or breadcrumbs

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9 x 13 inch pan.

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the macaroni according to the package directions. Drain and return to the pot.

Meanwhile, make a roux by whisking the butter and flour over medium heat until the mixture forms a paste. Add the milk, and keep stirring to avoid clumps. Add the nutritional yeast, tomato paste, garlic, salt, and pepper, and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce the heat to low and let simmer until the sauce thickens. Stir in the lemon juice and agave.

Toss the noodles with the sauce and the spinach and transfer to the prepared baking pan. Sprinkle the crushed crackers or breadcrumbs on top of the pasta and bake for 30 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned and crisp. Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Make Ahead Tip: Chloe says that the unbaked macaroni and cheese can be refrigerated for 2-3 days until ready to bake. 

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2 Responses to “(Almost) Vegan Baked Mac n’ “Cheese””

  1. Kaela October 1, 2012 at 10:21 pm #

    Which is better!? this or your vegan Alfredo sauce???

    • figsinmybelly October 2, 2012 at 2:22 pm #

      Oh wow! Both are so great, so you should just make both!! The alfredo is creamy and slurpy, but it does require remembering to soak cashews for a few hours prior to beginning the recipe. You would also have to buy miso paste, which I use all the time anyway, so it is a great purchase. If you like baked pasta dishes, I would make the mac. The nutritional yeast melts into a perfect cheesy sauce. And the best part about any baked pasta are those bits of golden crust. YUM. You will love it!

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