Thursday, April 22, 2010

Mac & Cheese like my mom use to make

As a child, macaroni and cheese was my favorite. I really didn’t if it came from a box, or served at school, or a microwave dinner. However, the few times my mom made it from scratch were a special treat. I remember her heating the milk and adding the butter and melting in the cheese and the decadent flavor it created. The prepared vegan cheeses on the market were not designed for this type of creation, but then Daiya brand vegan cheese showed up.

Daiya cheese has been impressing vegans since its arrival. It has a head up in the vegan cheese world since it actually melts and has some stretchiness. It is not my favorite for every application, but it is opening up the possibilities. I decided it would be a good candidate for the old fashioned mac and cheese my mom use to make. It has a pretty strong flavor, however, so I knew I didn’t want to rely on it all by itself, or the flavor would be too overwhelming. This is where the old stand by nutritional yeast comes in to equalize the flavors and the results were great!

“Old Fashioned” Macaroni and Cheese

8 oz. Pasta
¼ cup Earth Balance Margarine
2 cups Almond Milk (plain, unsweetened)
2 Tb Corn Starch
½ - ¾ Salt
½ tsp Black Pepper
½ tsp Garlic Granules
1 cup Daiya Cheese
1/3 cup Nutritional Yeast

Bread Crumbs (optional):

2 cups cubed sourdough bread
1 Tb Olive Oil
2 Tb fresh Sage, chopped
¼ tsp Garlic Granules

Bread Crumbs: Place the oil, sage and garlic in a bowl and stir together. Add the cubed bread and stir to incorporate into the bread until it seems equally distributed. Set aside.

Macaroni and Cheese: Cook and drain the pasta according to directions; set aside. In a large cooking pot, melt the margarine and then add the almond milk and cornstarch and whisk together. Heat the sauce on medium heat until thick, whisking occasionally. Remove from heat and add the Daiya cheese, nutritional yeast, salt, pepper and garlic granules. Whisk until all the ingredients are incorporated and the Daiya cheese has melted into the sauce. Add the pasta to the sauce and stir to cover it; then place in a 9-inch square baking pan. Spread the bread crumbs on top to cover evenly. Bake at 400°F for 20 minutes. Serve with your favorite veggies such as asparagus like I did.

*For a soy-free version, just use the soy-free version margarine from Earth Balance (or another brand if you can find one).