Not much is better than a well done Mac and Cheese. As a vegan, I have tried tons of Mac and Cheese recipes, and the majority have tasted like a floury roux with a dash of nutritional yeast. Most likely this is because they WERE a floury roux with a dash of nutritional yeast. The best cookbook recipe I have found is Isa Chandra’s Mac Daddy in Veganomicon, but even that leaves a lil sumpin sumpin wanted. (More on that later.)
My bossman over at iEatGrass makes an amazing rendition of the dish, which he calls Mac and Yease, but that recipe is under lock and key, even from me, his right hand lady! (Hey bossman, holidays are a’comin, can you throw a lil recipe at your girl?)
Anyway, my very omnivorous boyfriend P LOVES a well-done Mac and Cheese, both vegan and non-vegan. It’s his ultimate comfort food. Blame the Jewish heritage or my foodie parents, but I show my affection through the stomach. So basically this was all a long-winded way of saying I have been working on creating a suitable Mac and Cheese recipe so that I can tell my guy how much I like him through what I put on his plate.
The key ingredient in this recipe is the tahini. What?! Yes. Remember that missing sumpin sumpin I mentioned? Well, I realized it’s fat. Mac and cheese is a fatty dish, guys. A mustard and nooch combo just won’t make up for that fatty flavor. But a little bit of healthy, non-saturated nut fat (heh, heh) will do the trick.
Mac and (No) Cheese
For the Sauce:
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 2 cups veg broth
- ¼ cup flour (I often use rice flour and it works just fine, for anyone gluten-free)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ¼ tsp red pepper (optional)
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- ½ tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp turmeric
- 1 cup nutritional yeast
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 2 tsp yellow mustard
- ¼ cup tahini
For the Mac:
¾ – 1 pound of your favorite pasta.** I prefer rotini, elbows or shells.
Put water on to boil for pasta. Sauté the garlic in the coconut oil for 3 – 4 minutes until fragrant and golden.
In a separate pot, add garlic and all sauce ingredients and bring to a simmer, 8- 10 minutes, stirring quite often to avoid burning. It gets bubbly so watch yourself – no nudie cooking here!
Boil pasta until al dente. Drain, combine with sauce, let sit for 5 minutes for optimum flavor melding, splash some Sriracha on there and enjoy.
I also eat this as a cheesy sauce on things like chili and nachos and, well, anything.
**Note here: P loves a drier, baked Mac dish. When catering to him, I use 1 pound of pasta, and I bake it. When I am short on time or feel like eating it ooey gooey style, I use less pasta (3/4 pound) and skip the bake.
If you want to take it a step further and bake it, it’s still very easy:
Just pre-heat the oven to 350, toss in your noodles and sauce, top with bread crumbs (add some peas for old-school flavor!) and bake for 35 – 40 minutes.