Today I would like to show you the possibilities for a Plant Based Mac N Cheese. Now, of course I’m not looking to compete with the kind of Mac N Cheese that starts of with milk, cream, a pound of butter and bacon. I am simply looking to satisfy that craving of yours with an end result that is flavorful and will be easy for your body to process. And if for some reason you try this recipe and play with it and come up with something better? Please let me know!
Let’s start with the basis of a Mac N Cheese: a béchamel sauce. That’s the cheesy creamy goodness that the pasta sits in. You can also make a béchamel sauce and put vegetables in it. And if you are making it plant based it’s not only going to taste good, but it’s going to be good for ya!
The way I cook is I start with the most decadent recipe and then try to play with its so that I am substituting better choices in, one step at a time. But in order to do that, I am going to start with a Chef that knows about bringing the flavor.
According to Mario Batali from the Food Network, here’s how you would make it:
- 5 tablespoons butter
- 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 4 cups milk
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Ok. That sounds about right. And all I can take away from it is 4 tablespoons of flour (maybe a potato flour or chick pea flour – certainly not all purpose flour) and 1/2 tsp of freshly grated nutmeg.
I will remind you that nutmeg is a subtle underlying flavor. It’s a flavor that should make you think: “That’s good” but not quite know what is giving you that flavor. In my case I think less is more, because if you need to you can always add more in later. But you can never take too much nutmeg away, or mask it.
When I think of a béchamel sauce, I picture a mound of flour with the inside scooped out. That center is where you can lightly pour some grapeseed oil (or any oil without flavor) and maybe a patty or two of vegan butter (Earth Balance and Miyoko’s Creamery are two of my favorites) and start incorporating it into the flour.
Your goal is to turn the flour into the oil to make a crumbly mixture. Once all the flour is crumbly and wet, I start adding liquids.
So here’s your choices: Any of the coffee creamers that are plant based or any kind of coconut creamer.
I use So Delicious Dairy Free Coconut Milk Coffee Creamer. When you think about it, this is the kind of product you can use in almost any recipe that calls for a creamy milky product.
Back to the Mac N Cheese. You slowly add this creamer to work into a creamy consistency. Once you’ve got that, you have to start thinking about a cheesy flavor profile.
I like to use either the Miyoko’s chive and truffle cheese along with GoVeggie, a vegan grated parmesan. But you can add nutritional yeast or any of a number of other choices. Just google vegan cheese or plant based cheese and start experimenting for the flavors you like.
Once you have your cheesy béchamel sauce, add your nutmeg… stir in AND TASTE, then add your cooked pasta. A little salt and pepper… and then there is one more trick.
Pimentos. Back in the day in New York City, I used to eat at a place called The Automat. It had incredible Mac N Cheese and after much investigation I figured out the pimento was their trick!
Enjoy plant based Mac N Cheese, your waistline and good health!
Happy Healthy Eating,