I see vegan mac n cheese recipes all over the shop. The more accessible and inclusive recipes out there, the better. However the majority are full of high fodmaps and gluten so they’re not something I can currently eat. If I’m being completely honest, I do find that a lot of vegan cheese sauce recipes are massively convoluted. They have a huge list of ingredients, are really over complicated and more often than not contain nuts and/or a can of coconut milk. Now I love coconut milk in desserts and in porridge, curries and whole host of things. It’s versatile, cheap and delicious...but one place I cannot abide the presence of coconut is in something trying to replace cheese. Perhaps I’m in the minority, because people seem to think vegan cheese has come a long way and now they genuinely enjoy it, rather than endure it. However, I have a really sensitive palette and the flavour comes crashing through like an unwelcomed wasp at a summers picnic.
Like I’ve said before, never have I been eating a bounty and thought I know what this needs...cheddar! And never have I been quaffing some cheese and thought...if only this had some ‘Miss Hawaiian tropics sun oil’ to finish it off. Anyway, I digress.
When it comes to making a quick and simple vegan cheese sauce it does not need to be difficult. Essentially, you know how you would make a cheese sauce with dairy? Do that, without the dairy and with a few simple tricks and would you believe it...you have an absolute corker of a cheese sauce.
Make a roux, then add milk, nooch, lemon juice and some herbs and spices and it really is as simple as that. Better yet, it only takes 5 minutes at most.
This recipes gives you Mac n cheese for 2 people. But you can use this cheese sauce for a load of other things: lasagna, moussaka, simple pasta and vegetable bakes. It’s really versatile, inexpensive and much lighter and less sickly, but still equally delicious, as the traditional dairy version.
Mac n cheese (serves 2)
2 cups Gluten free macaroni
2 tbsp Garlic infused oil Or 1 tbsp Dairy free butter
3 tbsps brown rice flour or gluten free flour of your choice
Juice of one lemon
2 - 2 1/2 cups unsweetened plant based milk
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
Pinch of salt and cracked black pepper
Herbs of your choice, I use -
1/2 tsp Oregano
1/2 tsp Parsley
1/4 tsp Chives
Generous pinch of chilli flakes
A handful of gluten free breadcrumbs
Vegan cheese of your choice
Optional: a pinch of smoked paprika
Preheat the oven to 200°C.
Add the macaroni to a pan of boiling salty water and cook as per the instructions on the packet.
Heat the oil or butter in a large pan over a low to medium heat, add the flour and stir until combined then cook out for a minute or so. Add 1/2 cup of the milk and whisk vigorously to remove any lumps, when it starts to thicken add the rest of the milk, increase the heat and continue to whisk, paying attention so that it doesn’t collect at the sides of the pan. Add the lemon, nutritional yeast, salt and pepper and herbs and continue to whisk until it thickens.
Taste and adjust the seasoning and feel free to loosen the sauce with a little more milk to reach your desired consistency.
Once you’re happy with the taste, add your macaroni to the sauce, stir until everything is beautifully coated.
You can dive in straight away or to take it to the next level, pour into a baking dish and if you like, you can add a few chunks of dairy free cheese so you get extra pockets of melted cheese, sprinkle with gluten free bread crumbs and your favourite cheese (grated) and a pinch of smoked paprika.
Bake in the oven for approx 20 minutes or until the top is turning beautifully golden brown and everything is bubbling to perfection.