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Vegan mac n cheese

A big cheese of a dish.

Serves 4

When I was young, my only encounter with mac n cheese was the kind you get in a packet and add boiling water to it (or milk, if you were feeling well posh). It was a quick meal full of salt and sugar, but I knew there was something special in the taste and the texture of the pasta. Fast-forward a couple of decades and I’ve nailed a vegan version that’s fooled a few carnists.

Let’s talk about pasta first. It’s so great in all its forms, but these delightful little chewy tubes of macaroni pasta have something extra special about them. And then you stick them in the oven and they develop a bit of crunch. Oh boy.

The cheese sauce is based on a white sauce recipe I used to use to make lasagna back when I worked in catering. It’s roux-based, which means it takes a little longer than some other mac n cheese recipes I’ve seen, but I promise it’s worth the wait. Using a roux to thicken the sauce makes it deliciously thick and creamy – you’ve just got to make sure you cook it for long enough to get rid of the slight flour taste.

Another great thing about this dish is that as good as it is on its own, it only gets better when you add things in – so get creative. In the past we’ve had it with roast red peppers, vegan chorizo and garlic mushrooms, garden peas and vegan bacon, and loads of other awesome combos. Let your imagination run wild.

This recipe is designed to be flexible, so you can adjust the consistency of your cheese sauce by adding more or less plant milk than the recipe suggests. The 900ml suggested makes a fairly thick sauce, so add another 50ml (or even 100ml) if you like it runnier.

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INGREDIENTS

400g macaroni

Cheese sauce 

80g vegan butter

70g flour

900ml plant milk

1 tbsp onion powder

1 tbsp garlic powder

5 tbsp nutritional yeast

1/2 tbsp paprika

1/2 tbsp dried thyme

1/2 tbsp mustard powder

50g grated vegan cheese

Salt and pepper, to taste

Toppings

30g panko breadcrumbs (or other breadcrumbs)

1 tbsp olive oil

Pinch of salt and pepper

GETTING IT MADE AND IN YOUR MOUTH

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Boil the macaroni in salted water following the packet instructions. Drain and set aside.

For the roux, melt the butter in a deep saucepan over a low heat. Once the butter is melted, take the pan from the heat and whisk in the flour. It should now resemble a wet, sticky, loose dough.

Pour in the plant milk and whisk to break up the roux.

Add the rest of the cheese sauce ingredients (apart from the grated cheese) and turn up the heat until it starts to bubble.

Turn the heat back to low and stir constantly as the sauce warms through.

Cook for 10 minutes and continue to stir so no sauce sticks to the bottom. It’s a bit labour intensive stirring all the time, but it gets rid of the flour taste and stops it burning. It’ll be worth it.

Take the sauce from the heat and add half the grated cheese.

Tip the pasta into a dead ovenproof dish, coat it with the sauce and mix it all together good and proper.

Add the remaining cheese on top.

In a bowl, mix all the topping ingredients together then scatter over the top of the Mac N Cheese.

Bang it in the oven and cook for 15 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and you can’t wait any longer.

Don’t forget to snap a picture of any food you make it and use the tag #pigoutzine. We want to see how you pimp this dish up. 

Like comfort food? You’ll definitely love this pie

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