I’ve been a vegan for a year but it took only a few days before I learned to loathe vegan “cheeses”. None of the so-called vegan cheeses taste like the dairy versions. So it’s going to be a tough ask to make a macaroni cheese that tastes like the original, authentic comfort food we all grew up with.
This version is pretty close though. It’s roughly based on Jamie Oliver’s Mac ’n’Cheese recipe. I served it last night to my two omni, cheese-eating teenagers who declared it was “pretty good”. Believe me, that counts as high praise from them.
In fact they cleared their plates and both decided they’d take the remainder for their lunches. I’m claiming this recipe as a success.
Ingredients (serves 4)
- 350 g dried macaroni
- 750ml unsweetened soya milk
- 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon of plain flour
- 1 heaped tablespoon of English mustard
- 2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast flakes
- 60g vegan cheese (melting-style), divided into three piles – we used this Tesco one
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 heaped tablespoon of dried herbs eg parsley, rosemary, thyme or your favourite brand of mixed herbs
- olive oil
- 3 or 4 slices of bread, for making breadcrumbs
- It’s a recipe in three parts: the macaroni, the cheeze sauce and the herby breadcrumb topping. Start by cooking the macaroni according to the packet instructions. This usually takes 10-15 minutes.
- While that’s happening, you can make the breadcrumb topping. Cut the bread into chunks and put it in your food processor along with the garlic, the dried herbs and a tablespoon of olive oil. Blitz everything to your desired breadcrumb size and leave in the processor for now.
- Put the oven on to pre-heat, to 180C/360F.
- Now for the cheeze sauce. Make a simple roux: just put a tablespoon of vegetable oil into a medium sized saucepan and warm it up. Add a tablespoon of flour and stir the two together so they make a thick lumpy paste. (There’s a lot of stirring in this, so use a wooden or silicone spoon if you don’t want to scratch your favourite pan.) Slowly add the milk, little by little, stirring all the time. You’ll need to do this over the course of a few minutes. Even if the sauce has got lumps in it, just carry on stirring. Have faith, this works!
- Once the mixture has come together as a white sauce, add in the mustard and the nutritional yeast. Have a taste. How is it? Amazing! Almost like it’s got cow-cheese in there! Need a little salt and pepper? More mustard? Go for it. Now stir in one third of your melty vegan cheese and add more soy milk if you want a thinner sauce. Note that the pasta will absorb quite a lot of the liquid while it’s in the oven, so it’s better to make the sauce a bit wetter than you normally would.
- Time to assemble. Put the macaroni in an oven dish (a 20cm/8” dish is about right for this) and then pour over the cheese sauce. Add another third of your vegan cheese, stir everything together so the cheese, the pasta and the sauce are all mixed together. Finally, spread the breadcrumbs over the top with the remainder of the vegan cheese.
- Cook for 20-25 minutes, then serve.
Green vegetables make a nice accompaniment to this. We had oven-roasted broccoli but green (French) beans or a small salad would be good too. Or chips, if you’re English like me 🙂
Like this recipe? Try these too:
- Bakewell Tart (vegan, dairy-free and damn delicious)
- Seitan (baked seitan, for meatloaf, for beef-like pieces and for replacing ground, minced beef)
- Mushroom Bourguignon