It’s a funny thing, but the recipe I’m asked for most often is the one I’m most reluctant to give out. Every time I mention that macaroni and “cheese” is one of E’s favorite dishes, parents wanting to wean their kids off the dairy stuff and onto something more healthy ask me for the recipe. For a long time, I had to tell them the hard, cold truth: The “cheese” that E loved above all others came from a package, and though I tried recipe after recipe, she wouldn’t eat any other mac and cheeze.
And then one day I decided I’d had enough. I was having to mail-order Road’s End Cheddar Style Chreese in bulk once every couple of months to keep E supplied with her quickest comfort food. (Her other favorite comfort food, lasagna, doesn’t fit into the make-it-on-the-fly category.) Each time I made it, I would look at the short list of ingredients and think that there had to be a way to recreate it at home and I just hadn’t hit the right formula yet. So in the interest of eating more local and fewer packaged foods, I started experimenting. I took the sauce from the one cheezy recipe that she had liked, Scalloped Potatoes, and tried that on macaroni. No dice. What worked on potatoes didn’t work for her on pasta. So I tinkered with it and then tinkered some more. Finally, sometime last spring I hit on a formula that worked, and we’ve been Chreese-free ever since.
But I was still reluctant to share the recipe because vegans are notoriously picky about their mac and cheese. Look at any vegan bulletin board and you’ll see someone praising a m&c recipe and someone else declaring that the same recipe tastes like $#!+. What works for my family won’t necessarily work for everyone else, and I would hate for anyone to spend the time to make this recipe and then be disappointed. Plus I’m just sensitive enough not to want to read online that my recipe tastes like someone’s backside.
But enough people want this recipe that I’m issuing it with a disclaimer: If you are used to nutritional yeast sauces AND you like Road’s End Chreese, then this might be the recipe for you. Notice that it’s not baked in a casserole dish with bread crumbs or anything fancy (E hates that, unfortunately). It’s macaroni and sauce, period, though sometimes we do add frozen green peas to make it Macaroni and Peas. But it’s quick to throw together on a week night, and I have to admit that our whole family finds it addictive.
- 1 pound pasta (regular or gluten-free), cooked according to package directions
- 1 1/4 cups water
- 1 cup plain, fat-free soymilk (may use other non-dairy milk)
- 3/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch or potato starch
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon salt (or more to taste)
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- pinch cayenne pepper
- 2 tablespoons tahini (optional, but lends creaminess and flavor)
- 1 teaspoon mellow white miso (or additional salt)
- black pepper to taste
- Put the pasta on to boil, according to package directions. While it’s cooking, blend water and all remaining ingredients together in a blender. When the pasta is al dente, drain it, reserving about 1/2 cup of the cooking water, and return the pasta to pan. Add the sauce mixture and cook, stirring, until mixture boils and thickens. Add a little of the pasta water if more moistness is needed.
- If the sauce is not as flavorful as you’d like, add a little more mustard and onion powder.
Serving Suggestions: We like to have this with a bean dish, such as barbecued beans, and with steamed vegetables, most often a blend of broccoli and cauliflower.
Additional Uses: Heat the sauce alone until it thickens and use it to pour over baked potatoes or top pizzas. Or stir in some salsa and it makes a yummy dip for tortilla chips.
More Mac & “Cheese”
If you don’t love this recipe, maybe one of these will tingle your tastebuds: