Approximating Normal: Macaroni and Cheese

Macaroni and Cheese made with Daiya Shreds, Easy Sauteed Tilapia and Grandma Annie's Candied Carrots.

There's been a lot of buzz in the food allergy community about the new rice based, vegan shreds made by Daiya as a cheese substitute.  Initially I was extremely skeptical.  With the exception of a few cream cheese substitutes, every vegan "cheese" I've tried has caused me to gag and spit it out in disgust.

So after continued rave reviews I finally broke down and tried it.  The verdict?  It's not bad, actually palatable and resembling cheese in flavor in texture.  While that might seem like lukewarm praise, it's not.  It's an amazing accomplishment.

So I did the exact same thing all the other allergy moms did when we discovered this product:  made "normal" pizza and "normal" macaroni and cheese.

The sad truth is that while I can cook all kinds of delicious meals that are free from the foods that cause my son to have an allergic reaction, oftentimes what an allergic kiddo wants is the same thing he sees all the other kids eating.  As a mom, I also have an urge to give my son the same comfort foods I ate growing up.

Since this mac and cheese was a special event, I decided to go all out and make an adaption of Alton Brown's Baked Macaroni and Cheese.  In addition to removing and substituting for the dairy and egg in the dish, I also enhanced the flavors complementing the "cheese," rather than forcing it to stand alone.  The result was amazingly rich, creamy and delicious.

Vegan Baked Macaroni and Cheese
Adapted from Alton Brown
Click here for printable recipe.)

8 oz elbow macaroni
3 Tbs dairy free margarine
3 Tbs all purpose flour
½ onion, finely chopped
2 tsp powdered mustard
1-2 cloves garlic, pressed
3 C soy or rice milk
1 tsp paprika
1 8oz package Daiya Chedder Style Shreds
salt and/or pepper to taste

3 Tbs dairy free margarine
1 C panko or other bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and cook macaroni until it is al dente.

While the pasta is cooking, melt margarine over medium heat in a separate pot, and stir in flour, onions and mustard.  Cook while stirring until onions are translucent  and flour begins to turn a golden brown.  (The longer it cooks and more caramelized the mixture becomes, the more depth of flavor the sauce will have.  It will also, however, make the color browner and less appetizing in appearance.)

Stir garlic into mixture and cook until just heated through, then add soy milk and paprika.  Whisk together until sauce is smooth, then allow to simmer over low heat 5 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally while it thickens.  Mix Daiya shreds into sauce and stir until smooth.

Combine pasta with sauce, then pour into a 2 qt casserole dish. (I used a 1 1/2 qt dish and regretted it.)  For topping, melt margarine and stir into breadcrumbs.  Sprinkle breadcrumb mixture evenly over the top of the macaroni and cheese.  Bake for 30 minutes, then allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving.

I'm sharing my macaroni cheese with:


Annaliese Lemmon said...

I've been hesitant to make macaroni & cheese for my son with daiya cheese, though we've had great success with making pizza and tacos with it (though I have not yet tasted it, my son loves it). I shall consider making this.

Nowheymama said...

This looks great! We recently found Daiya at our store. Scott made eggplant parmesan with the mozzerella. We'll have to try mac n' cheese!

Anonymous said...

I have had great results with Daiya mozzerella shreds on pizza and the cheddar shreds in mac and cheese and melted on nacho chips. I recently discovered my eldest son is allergic to mustard when I used dry mustard in the mac and cheese. It was just confirmed with a skin test. He has multiple food allergies with dairy being one of them and had always wanted to know what mac and cheese tasted like. I was so glad to be able to finally have a dairy free product to create a mac and cheese to his liking. Susan H. @ the food allergy chronicles

Paula said...

How wonderful that there is a allergy free substitute for cheese for your son. We (my husband and I) have trouble thinking up what to serve everyday and neither of us have food allergies. I can't imagine the extremely careful planning, shopping and food prepping that must go into your meals, three times a day every day.

Ruth Daniels said...

I definitely give you kudos for trying to prepare "normal" dishes for your son. It must really be a challenge. So Great job and thanks for sharing the story and recipe with Presto Pasta Nights so more people can do the same.