Amanda from Vegan Mafia was jonesin' for a vegan macaroni and cheese recipe on Facebook earlier this week and apparently got her fix yesterday. When I think of macaroni and cheese (a.k.a. mac 'n' cheese), I think of two completely different dishes. The first is the straight-from-the-box stove-top meal that used to be a lunchtime staple for me when I was a kid, as well as when I was a penny-pinching college student. The second is that gooey and greasy oven-baked concoction that conjures up images of casserole dishes, oven mitts and aprons.
Variations on either version get tried, tested or tweaked by so many North American vegans. I challenge you to visit a vegan discussion forum with a recipes thread and to not find at least one or two lengthy exchanges where favourite vegan mac 'n' cheese recipes are shared, with tang and texture discussed in great detail. Ingredients like cashews, miso, tahini and pop up alongside the nutritional yeast or vegan cheeses used in the recipes in an attempt to satisfy cravings for the nutty, tangy taste of cheese--without exploiting animals in the process. The "cheese" portion of the recipe titles is often places in quotation marks or changed to "cheeze" or "cheez". They're everywhere and they range from ones with creamy nutritional yeast-based sauces, to (yep!) gooey oven-baked concoctions that, thanks to the wide variety of vegan cheese now readily available on the market, are nearly identical to what your mom (or dad) used to haul out of the oven in a casserole dish.
My quick-fix stove-top mac 'n' cheese over the years has almost always involved a variation of this "cheese" sauce recipe posted at VegWeb.com. It's a simple nutritional yeast sauce that's easy to adjust for taste or thickness and that hits the spot with so little effort--check the comments and suggestions left in response to its original posting to get an idea of just how versatile it is. Another recipe I've loved (and which others for whom I've made it have loved) is the oven-baked "New Farm Macaroni and Cheese Casserole" from The New Farm Vegetarian Cookbook. You can find an adapted version of it here on the Get Sconed! blog, or many other places online.
Joanne Stepaniak's "Melty White Cheez" is another standby I use for quick stove-top mac 'n' cheese, and you can find the "Baked Macaroni and Cheez" recipe from her Uncheese Cookbook right here on the Comfort Food Vegan blog. Another variation of a stove-top nutritional yeast based mac 'n' cheese recipe can be found on the FatFree Vegan Kitchen blog; the list of ingredients for SusanV's "Easy Macaroni and 'Cheeze'" is a bit more lengthy and includes smoked paprika -- which I love -- as well as optional mellow white miso. Bryanna Clark Grogan has a somewhat more elaborate recipe on her Notes from the Vegan Feast Kitchen blog; "Bryanna's New Baked Vegan Macaroni and Cheese" offers up many variations, including a gluten-free option for the recipe.
If you're not a purist and are looking for a bit more variety with your mac 'n' cheese (i.e. more veggies, please!), check out the "Macaroni and Cheese with Cauliflower and Tomato" and "Mexican Macaroni and Cheese" nutritional yeast-based recipes on one of my favourite food blogs, Vegan Epicurean. You can also try Robin Robertson's soy- and nutritional yeast-free "Mac and Chard" or her Sheese-based "Easy Green Bean Mac and 'Sheese'", both featured on her Vegan Planet blog.
Speaking of processed vegan cheese substitutes: Here's a recipe that is the stuff of legend on the Vegan Freak forums. Using Sheese, Cheezly and Teese (all available via Pangea), it's the "Holy Trinity 'Mac 'n' Cheese'" recipe from the Yummy Vegan Dinners blog and I swear to you that I've heard that people have wept in absolute joy while eating it. And of course now with the "stretchy" Daiya available in more and more US stores (and also available by mail-order anywhere in North America), how could a post on vegan mac 'n' cheese be complete without an oven-baked Daiya-based recipe or two?
So there you have it--comfort food without compromise! Enjoy!