One of my all-time favorite foods is Macaroni & Cheese. I remember eating it often as a child and savoring every single bite of it. Whether it was homemade or from a box, I had certain expectations when consuming this dish. It had to be both cheesy and creamy, and of course with just enough salt. With the creaminess of the pasta and the crunchiness of the topping, this recipe passes my test. If you’re feeling daring, try it with Herbs & Chives cream cheese. Yum!
Creamy Macaroni & “Cheese”
16 ounces elbow macaroni, cooked
3 tablespoons vegan buttery spread
1 cup white onion, chopped
3 medium cloves garlic, minced
8 ounces imitation cream cheese, softened
2-1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1-1/2 teaspoons salt (add more to taste)
1/2 teaspoon paprika
pinch cayenne pepper
pinch black pepper
3 cups shredded vegan cheddar cheese (I use Daiya)
1/4 cup vegan buttery spread
1 cup panko
1 teaspoon dried dill
3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
Prepare pasta according to manufacturer’s directions. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 350º F. Lightly grease a 9” x 13” glass baking dish and set aside.
Begin by melting 3 tablespoons vegan buttery spread in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, for 3-5 minutes, or until onion is translucent. Reduce heat to low and add cream cheese, almond milk, nutritional yeast, salt, paprika, cayenne pepper, black pepper and cheddar cheese, stirring frequently until mixture is thoroughly combined and cheeses are melted. Remove from heat and add cooked pasta, stirring until pasta is evenly coated. Pour into prepared baking dish and set aside.
For the topping, melt the vegan buttery spread over medium heat. Add panko, dill and thyme, stirring until combined, about 1 minute. Turn off heat and pour topping evenly over pasta mixture.
Bake in preheated oven for 15-30 minutes, or until mixture is bubbly and topping is light golden brown.