There’s a large corner of the internet devoted to recipes for vegan macaroni and “cheese.” When I was a kid I remember my mom making a recipe from the farm cookbook that calls for nutritional yeast and lots of oil. Even though I love vegan mac n’ cheese, I can’t remember the last time I made it. I often eat pasta with yeast and soy sauce, but not mac n’ cheese per se. Last night Derek was craving something creamy and I had the brilliant idea of making him vegan macaroni and cheese, which he’s never had before. I wanted something a little less rich than the farm recipe, and I finally settled on the creamiest vegan mac n’ cheese ever, which had received rave reviews from the Pink Haired Girl and others.
As soon as I started making it, however, I ran into a few hiccups. I didn’t have any margarine, so I used half butter and half olive oil. I only had (lightly) sweetened soymilk, not plain. I haven’t found cornstarch here in Saarbruecken yet, so I used potato starch. The “sauce” very quickly became thick and gluey, so I had to add a lot more soymilk to thin it down.
After I mixed the ‘cheese’ sauce with the white sauce I tasted it, and it tasted pretty bland to me. I added some cayenne, some garlic powder, a little paprika, and a tablespoon of soy sauce, after which it tasted much better. It was still a bit starchy tasting, and slightly gloppy in consistency, but not bad tasting. The garlic and cayenne were essential. I didn’t notice any excess sweetness as a result of using sweetened soymilk.
I baked the mac n’ cheese in a casserole dish (without the ritz crackers), but in retrospect I would skip this step. The noodles on top got a bit dried out and crunchy, and the layer underneath didn’t seem any different than it was before the dish was baked.
In terms of healthiness, on the other hand, it’s pretty lacking. I think normal high-animal-fat non-vegan mac n’ cheese is probably healthier than all the starch and white flour in this recipe.
The night I made this dish Derek thought the recipe was “pretty weird”. He ate it after adding more salt, but he wasn’t very enthusiastic about it. The next day, however, he asked for a bowl for lunch, and then a second one. When three days later I finished off the end of the mac n’ cheese, he made a long face, and asked “you didn’t save me any”? In the end, he rated the recipe a B. He liked how it tasted, but downgraded the rating because it wasn’t “intellectually good”. He particularly didn’t like the crunchy, browned parts on top.