I have a well documented love-hate relationship with vegan cheese that, on most days, is more hate than anythings. It’s a variety of factors that include the smell which I know is both odd and hypocritical since I used to love nothing better than a wedge of Camembert (or Brie) in my pre-vegan days. But that’s what it is. The taste is usually pretty good and over the years the vegan cheese market as really stepped up its game. It all depends on what’s available in your area and those of you in places like Berlin, Los Angeles or London probably have a wealth of choices.
Here in Romania I have…three.
Anyway it turns out that I’m one of those people who, without the aide of casomorphin, isn’t a fan of cheese. But it was Tokyo Diner Night once again and the Hubs made a request: mac & cheese.
Oh…what’s a cheese disliking vegan to do?
Improvise, of course!
The rules of this fun game are always the same.
Number one: As long as we have the ingredients, we make it.
Number two: Make it your own.
And that’s just what I did, turned mac & cheese into a creamy vegan mac & cheese dinner with…
Spicy buffalo soy bites!
This part of the recipe is as easy as the Mac. Hydrate the soy in your favorite broth, I had leftover mushroom broth and I added a smashed clove of garlic while it simmered. Add the soy to a hot skillet and turn frequently until the edges start to crisp. Melt vegan butter and your favorite hot sauce, garlic & onion granules and a splash of vinegar and toss the soy. Put in an oven safe dish and set aside.
Just steam or blanch the broccoli for 3 to 5 minutes and set aside.
For the cheese, I consulted an old Welsh Rarebit recipe that I LOVE and used that as inspiration to keep with the spirit of mac & cheese without getting to cheesy about it.
Before we get to the roux, I cooked 30 grams of minced garlic in the skillet and then added the roux.
Start with a roux of vegan butter (in this instance the more fat it has and the less water, the better) and flour. Stir until brown and then add a teaspoon up to a tablespoon of tomato paste and dijon mustard, 1/2 tablespoon of vegan Worcestershire sauce and stir like you mean it. Slowly add a fatty-ish liquid of your choice, I used unsweetened roasted almond milk from Alpro. I love it because it is very low in calories and has a faintly almond taste that doesn’t overpower the dish. It sounds like a shameless plug but it’s not, I just like it best.
Whisk the liquid in slowly until the liquid starts to thicken. If you need to add more, you can alternate between the liquid and water like I did. Or if you’re feeling impatient, use a cornstarch-water mix to thicken it quickly.
Once the liquid starts to thicken, I added about 50 grams of vegan cheese. It was Mediterranean flavored and it had a parm/Romano taste that was really delicious. It was a vegan mac & cheese but…not. It was creamy and yummy and faintly cheesy but the hubs gave it two big thumbs up so…try it maybe?
If you have access to really good melty vegan cheese, use that. But if you want to have the cheesy flavor without the calories too, try this method and you won’t be disappointed.
Toss the pasta, cheese and broccoli together and pop it in a 400F/200C oven for 17-20 minutes and after a brief cooling period, you’re good to chow down.
What’s your favorite vegan cheese brand? Drop links below…bonus points if they deliver in Europe!