I came home from work on Monday feeling tired and lazy. All I wanted was comfort food and a blanket (nothing new here)! So after my BBG ab workout, I decided to make my first-ever homemade vegan mac and cheese.
Since I’d been planning to give this a try for awhile, I had my ingredients on hand and I’d already scoured the internet for the easiest, tastiest looking recipe I could find. After deliberating, I chose Detoxinista’s “Best Vegan Mac n’ Cheese” because I couldn’t believe how simple and quick it sounded, and it had my usual boxes checked: short prep time, beginner-friendly, small(ish) batch.
This was also my first experience purchasing and cooking with nutritional (deactivated) yeast. Ever since we began eating more vegan meals, I’ve wanted to give it a try. It’s a staple in many of the vegan “cheese” recipes I’ve seen, especially macaroni.
I bought a small quantity (maybe 1/2 cup) of flaked nutritional yeast in bulk. Naturally I poked at it, photographed it, sniffed and tasted it (ha!) I was totally surprised that it didn’t have a cheesy smell – I was honestly expecting it to stink. Not the case!
My second surprise was the experience of blending cashews with the other listed ingredients in Detoxinista’s recipe. Since my food processor is broken, I was wondering if I’d need to soak my cashews before attempting the cheese sauce in this recipe. If you’ve made cashew cheeses and sauces before, you’re probably not surprised at how soft the cashews are – but I was! They blend so beautifully in a traditional blender or a Magic Bullet. My sauce was smooth and rich (see below!)
For my pasta I cooked a pot of macaroni this time, but I also love vegetable-based, black bean and brown rice pastas, which would work too. If you’re a first-timer really going for a traditional mac and cheese taste, the elbow macaroni you enjoyed as a kid is awesome!
My macaroni and cheese turned out great on its own, but I decided to jazz things up and make a casserole with broccoli. I’ve included what I did below!
Overall, I was so impressed with this recipe. It’s simple, flexible and fail-safe. I had no experience making a cheese sauce in my life, let alone a vegan one. I approximated some of the ingredients based on my tastes and the quantities I had on hand – and this was totally fine. The flavour was rich, sweet and nutty, and I thought the texture of the sauce was very similar to traditional mac and cheese. Since the sauce is a little sweeter I liked pairing it with spicy and savoury flavours, and it’s definitely a tasty broccoli topper!
- vegan “cheese” sauce
- 6 cups cooked macaroni
- 1/3 cup breadcrumbs
- 1 tbsp vegan butter
- 1 1/2 cups finely chopped broccoli florets
- 2 tbsp chipotle hot sauce (optional)
- taco seasoning
- ground black pepper
- Pre-heat oven to 350F.
- Pour cooked macaroni and broccoli into a 9×9 glass baking dish. Add hot sauce along with 3/4 of vegan cheese sauce and stir until broccoli and noodles are coated.
- Sprinkle with taco seasoning, salt and black pepper as desired. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes.
- Coat a small piece of aluminum foil with vegan margarine. Pour breadcrumbs on top and toast or broil in a toaster oven on low for 5-7 minutes.
- Once breadcrumbs are browned, remove from heat (they’ll burn quickly!)
- Remove macaroni casserole from oven and stir in the remaining 1/4 of vegan cheese sauce. Pour breadcrumbs over the top and return to oven on broil.
- Broil on low heat for another 5 minutes.
- Serve and season with black pepper and hot sauce as desired. Enjoy!
Do you cook with nutritional yeast? Have you ever made mac and cheese? Let me know in the comments!