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Vegan Mac and Cheese

My Vegan Mac and Cheese features giant, toothy rigatoni in a silky, creamy, savory, slightly tangy, cheesy sauce. It’s an elevated take on one of the most comforting dishes of all time. For extra points, hit it with breadcrumbs and bake it for some extra textural fun.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time50 mins
Course: Dinner, Side Dish
Cuisine: American, British
Servings: 4
Author: Thomas

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces uncooked rigatoni or macaroni or other pasta (225 grams) (see note)
  • 2 Tablespoons plant-based butter
  • 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups unsweetened unflavored plant milk
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard seed (also called “dry mustard”)
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 2 cups shredded plant-based cheese 8 ounces / 225 grams
  • 1/2 Tablespoon miso see note
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Topping

  • 1 Tablespoon plant-based butter
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 C) and prepare a baking dish with a coating of oil or plant-based butter (I used plant-based butter in a cast-iron skillet).

Boil the pasta

  • Cook the pasta in salted water according to the instructions, but for 1-2 minutes less than prescribed (see note). The pasta should be just a bit chewier than you would like it in the end. Drain the pasta when cooked to this point.

Make the sauce

  • While the water for the pasta is boiling, heat the 2 Tablespoons of plant-based butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Once the butter has been bubbling for a minute, add the flour and stir with a silicone scraper. Combine the butter and flour until it’s an even mixture.
  • Continue to toast the flour until it is light golden brown, 3-4 minutes, still stirring.
  • Add the plant milk, bay leaf, ground mustard, and garlic powder. Stir well until the mixture is as even as you can get it. If the liquid begins to boil rapidly, reduce to low heat to keep the mixture at a simmer.
  • Simmer for about 10 minutes to reduce the volume, stirring occasionally and making sure to stir in any lumps you see.
  • Add the nutritional yeast, shredded plant-based cheese, and miso. Stir well to combine and integrate until the cheese is mostly melted and the mixture is again as even as you can get it. Taste the sauce and add salt and pepper to taste. Remove and discard the bay leaf.

Toast the breadcrumbs (optional)

  • Heat the other 1 Tablespoon of plant-based butter in a small skillet over medium heat. When the butter is melted, add the breadcrumbs. Toast the breadcrumbs until golden, stirring very often to prevent burning, 2-3 minutes.

Combine and bake

  • Add the boiled noodles to the skillet with the cheese sauce. Stir well to coat the noodles. Pour the noodles into the greased baking dish. Top with a layer of breadcrumbs.
  • Bake until the sauce is bubbling and edges are lightly browned and crispy, 15-20 minutes.
  • You can serve immediately or let the dish rest for 20 minutes or so to re-solidify before serving.

Store

  • This will stay good for 4-5 days in the fridge or a month in the freezer. You can reheat in the microwave or in the oven at 375 F (190 C). Reheat until heated through and the sauce is bubbling.

Notes

You can use as much as 12 ounces (340 grams) of pasta, though the dish won't be as saucy as shown here.
I'd recommend white or yellow miso, though red will still work. Make sure your miso doesn't contain bonito or any other fish ingredients.
The pasta will be fully and properly cooked once mixed with the sauce and baked.
If the recommended cooking time for the pasta is over 10 minutes, reduce the boiling time by 2 minutes; if less than 10 minutes, reduce by 1 minute.
Plant-based cheese can be difficult to fully melt. If you must get rid of all the lumps, you might try a hand blender or food processor.