Baked Vegan Mac ‘N Cheese Topped With Bread Crumbs

It’s about that time! Leaves are falling, wind is picking up, and the weather is getting a little colder each day. I’m sure I’m not the only one thinking about Thanksgiving and all the laughs, food, and good times with family and friends.

This Thanksgiving is going to be a lot different than last years, I wont be digging into the stuffing, turkey, ham, or my moms famous mac ‘n cheese. It’s so crazy how my eating habits have drastically changed in the past year. I was just talking to my mom about how I use to always ask her to make an extra batch of stuffing, mac ‘n cheese, and ham to keep at home for us. And for Christmas, I’d ask her to make more ham, stuffing and mac ‘n cheese. Those were my favorite part of the fall/winter holidays!

So my only option to reliving these wonderful holiday memories is to turn her recipes vegan! So I’ll be doing a series of different recipes she grew up eating and learning to cook and turning them vegan. It’s going to take a lot of experimenting with different flavors, spices, and herbs. And most importantly, a lot of patience, but I’ll enjoy doing it.

First up my mom’s famous baked mac ‘n cheese that she traditionally made with a block of cheese, butter, milk, and refined elbow pasta noodles. I went with a less-processed recipe for this one, and instead of just making one out of soy cheese, vegan butter, and almond milk. However, I will be making another batch to share with my family on Thanksgiving using Daiya cheese shreds to give it that baked cheesy topping!

Ingredients: 

8 oz whole wheat penne or elbow noodles (if you use a bigger box, 13.25-16 oz for example, just double the cheese sauce recipe)

Your choice of veggie (shredded dino kale, broccoli, etc.) — optional

Smoke paprika, garnish

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Cheese Sauce: 

1 – 1 1/2 c. soaked, chopped raw cashews

3/4 c. water

1 c. unsweetned/unflavored almond milk

1/3 c. nutritional yeast

Juice of 1 large lemon (or 3 small)

1 tbsp minced garlic (or 1 clove)

1 tsp onion powder

1 1/2 tsp sea salt (or Himalayan, t0 taste)

1 tsp ground black pepper

1/4-1/2 tsp smoked paprika, to taste

1/8 tsp turmeric

Pinch of cayenne pepper

1/8 date sugar (game changer)

– Pulse cashews in a food processor, don’t over process or you’ll lose the oils. (If you have a high-powered blender you can skip this step).

– Combine all cheese ingredients in a blender (save 1/2 c. almond milk to combine later)

– Blend until mixed throughly, then add remaining almond milk. Blend again.

– Add more of any spice or herb, to taste.

Bread crumbs: 

2-3 slices of Dave’s Killer Bread

– Toasted well in oven

– Put in a food processor and pulse until crumbly (or you can use a high-speed blender).

– Drizzle a pinch or two of garlic salt, and rosemary flakes on top.

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Pasta: 

– Cook al dente.

– Once cooked, drain, and rinse well with cold water.

– Add pasta and sauce back to the pot and mix well until combined.

– In a casserole dish, pour mac ‘n cheese and top with bread crumbs. Add a pinch or two of smoked paprika, as a garnish.

– Bake for 25-30 minutes, check after 15 minutes, if bread crumbs are browning or burning too quickly, cover with tin foil and continue baking.

– Enjoy it! If you want it creamier just make more cheese sauce!

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