The best dairy free mac ‘n’ cheese

Gooey, comforting, delicious, sexy (?!) – All words to describe the joy that is mac and cheese. When I decided to stop eating meat and dairy, I started researching alternatives to the usual comfort food I enjoyed as I wasn’t prepared to live a life based purely on insta-gorgeous salad and lentil concoctions. Don’t get me wrong I am healthier, eat a wider variety of foods and am loving that veggie life – but sometimes you don’t want a saintly dinner and you want stodge. Essentially, that’s what you’re getting with this recipe – filling, creamy goodness – but it’s still better for you than the real cheesy deal so no guilt here!

Below you will find my favourite recipe for dairy free macaroni cheese, but this is by no means the only recipe out there. You will find variations made with cashews, butternut squash, different herbs and flavourings and made with different types of milk/dairy alternatives.

If you are vegan or thinking about trying it out, I would definitely say that I have found any of my old favourite meals can be made into a plant based recipe. There are SO many great alternatives ingredients out there, give some of them a go and play about – you’ll be amazed at what you can make without dairy or meat but still get a similar flavour.

SO, here is my recipe, apologies I haven’t taken more Nigella-esque pictures, but I’m certainly not a glam chef so best keep the paps on the food.

Plain flour
Dairy free butter/spread (I use the Flora one pictured below)
Non dairy milk (I use Oatly Organic)
Macaroni pasta
Salt and pepper
Chives and breadcrumbs if you’re feeling fancy
Nutritional yeast

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Put the macaroni in a pan to boil with a pinch of salt before beginning the sauce so it’s ready when you need it.

Now for the sauce – Begin with heating a pan of the non dairy milk of your choice. You want enough to make the volume of sauce you want, I don’t measure it I’m afraid! Heat it until it begins to bubble slightly, but don’t let it fully boil. Put that in a jug to use in a minute.

Then, put a tablespoon of the ‘butter’ in the same pan to melt, then when it’s melted drop a tablespoon of plain flour in with it. Immediately whisk this together and it will form a paste.

Acting fast so your paste doesn’t burn, pour a little of your heated milk into your flour and butter mix, whisking until its smooth. you then add a little more milk, whisk until it’s smooth, then some more – and continue this until all of your milk is whisked in and it has no lumps.
If you put too much milk in at a time it won’t smooth out, so be patient.

You want the sauce to be a thick consistency – so don’t add so much milk that it becomes thin rather than creamy.

Now to flavour that white sauce – I add a big sprinkling of nutritional yeast, salt and pepper, a teaspoon of nutmeg, a dollop of marmite and a teaspoon of mustard powder. I find this mix of ingredients makes it really cheesy and savoury tasting – but i’m sure you’ll all find what works for you.  Like I said earlier, some people cook butternut squash and mash that into the sauce (it does taste good but I prefer it without), some people add different herbs and some add cashew cream. Experimenting is half the fun of trying new recipes! What I will suggest sticking with though is the nutritional yeast. If you haven’t heard me raving about this already, this certainly won’t be the last time. A pinch of these instantly gives a cheesier taste to anything and it’s a source of vitamin B12 which can be difficult to get on a plant based diet – double win!
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Once you’re happy with your ‘cheese’ sauce, mix this with the cooked pasta and pour into an ovenproof dish / casserole dish (I like to add frozen peas at this point too, but you could add spinach or another cooked veg). Sprinkle a handful of nutritional yeast on the top and if you want you can add breadcrumbs at this point too, then bake in the oven at 180 for around 20 minutes or until golden on top.

And that’s it – You should now have a delicious bowl of gooey goodness, enjoy!

Just Hollie xox

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