In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr, who was born and raised in the South, I have decided to make Southern “comfort” food this week. Mike and I have discovered and fallen in love with many great vegan soul food places here in LA, and this is the perfect week to try to make some of our own comfort food — vegan style.
First up, mac and cheese. This dish was pretty simple and easy to make. A real fast dish if you are too tired to cook.
-16oz package of elbow macaroni
-3 cups shredded Daiya Cheddar Cheese (each 8oz packet is about 2 cups)
-3 tablespoons Earth Balance butter
-3 tablespoons flour
-1 3/4 cups rice milk
-Enough Japanese panko bread crumbs to liberally cover the M&C in the pan
-Red chili flakes to taste (optional)
-Fried onions pieces (Trader Joe’s, optional, it was our own added touch)
The elbow pasta gets cooked for 5 minutes because you don’t want it be too soggy when it bakes (this too, could have used another minute or two in our opinion). Drain the pasta.
Grease a pan (recommended is 8×10), then mix the pasta with about two cups of cheese. I alternated layers of pasta and cheese to make the mixing as easy as possible. Save about a cup of cheese to pour on top.
Using a small pan, melt the butter, then season with pepper (a 1/4 teaspoon is recommenced). Add the flour, mix well, then slowly pour the milk and stir until until it starts to boil. Side note: The recipe calls for 2- 2 1/2 cups of milk, but we had less (1 3/4) and it was fine. The more milk you pour in the less thick the sauce will be. Once the sauce boils, stir for a minute more, then pour it over the pasta dish, and mix everything around a couple of times.
Generously pour the panko breadcrumbs over the top to get a nice crunchy taste when the mac & cheese is done. We had fried onions that we thought might be good on top too, so we decided to top half of the pasta dish.
Bake 350ºF for 30 minutes (we felt it could have been cooked longer).
The Daiya cheese is the trendy new alternative cheese that people are talking about because it melts like “real” cheese. It works fine, not the greatest taste, a little bit salty, but it does the job such as cooking mac & cheese. There are other versions of macaroni and cheese that don’t use Daiya, but instead are a handmade “cheese” sauce of tahini, brewers yeast, potatoes, carrots, and a bunch of other goodies, that we’ve made. Mike said he prefers that one better, although this version was a much faster recipe to make.
Regardless, this was a very tasty dish and very filling. As a side, we also roasted some Brussel sprouts similar to the way we did last week (adding grilled onion pieces this time).