Creamy, Simple Vegan Mac n’ Cheeze, with no fake dairy products

Today’s run: 3 easy miles with my favorite big black dog. Now that he’s quite old and arthritic, I can only take him when it’s 32 or lower – otherwise he gets really achy. Poor guy! I distinctly remember running 15 miles with him when we lived in Michigan. He’s still doing really well for his age, though.

Onto a favorite recipe……

Oh my goodness. I can eat the heck out of this  stuff. For real, folks, I can eat and eat and eat this until I feel sick. It is sooooo good – creamy and salty with a little bit of bite.

It has been so long since I’ve had non-vegan cheese (17 years!) that I really don’t remember what cheese, or mac n’ cheese, actually tastes like. Plus I don’t eat a lot of vegan cheese; it’s pricey and hard to find, plus it was unavailable for the first 10+ years I was a vegan, so I just got by without a cheese substitute. However, because I haven’t had cheese for so long, I can’t really remember much about it. So for omnivores, this may be completely off and unappealing. For me, though, it serves the same purpose of mac n’ cheese – creamy, rich, thick comfort food, quick and easy to put together, cheap to make, and filling.

You can find a lot of veganized mac n’ cheese recipes on the web that use a lot of ‘fake’ dairy products, like non-dairy cream cheese, non-dairy sour cream, non-dairy cheese, such as Daiya, etc. etc. I’m sure these are great recipes with fantastic, authentic-tasting results. However, I really like making dishes that are based on whole, real ingredients that don’t pretend to be something else (yes, I realize the irony of this statement considering this is recipe that replicates mac n’ cheese…..but that’s the result, not the pieces). I also like making recipes that are based on ingredients that are easy to find and not hideously expensive. Tofutti cream cheese and Daiya, while both tasty, can be hard to find, depending on where you live, and are expensive, no matter where you live. This recipe relies on easy-to-find, inexpensive, whole, pure ingredients.

Cook about 1 pound of pasta I usually use shells or rotini; use whatever you like). Preheat oven to 350, if you want baked mac n’ cheese (this recipe works for either baked mac n’ cheese or just putting the pasta and sauce together on the stove top).

Meanwhile, using your trusty immersion blender, blend these ingredients until smooth and creamy:

1 pound firm tofu

1/4 cup vegetable oil

2 tablespoons (1/8 cup) white vinegar

2 cloves of garlic

2 tablespoons (1/8 cup) miso

2 tablespoons (1/8 cup) nutritional yeast

2 tablespoons (1/8 cup) soy milk

2 tablespoons (1/8 cup) water

1/2-1 teaspoon salt, to taste

breadcrumbs for sprinkling on top, optional

(Can you tell I was using the adorable little 1/8 cup measurer? This is the first time I’ve made the recipe actually measuring the ingredients; usually I just eyeball it.)

Mix together the cooked pasta and the sauce. I usually all but about a cup of the cooked pasta, but do as you see fit to satisfy your personal pasta-to-sauce ratio.

Eat as is, or put in a 9 x 13 pan, sprinkle breadcrumbs on top if desired, and cook at 350 for 20-30 minutes. When you bake it, the sauce sort of solidifies and the top pieces of pasta become a little chewy; it is delicious and pleasingly-textured. It’s good both ways, though, and it is certainly quicker to just eat it as stovetop mac n’ cheese. I also sometimes use this filling for stuffed shells, and drizzle some of my spinach pesto  on top, and then sometimes even some marinara sauce on top of that ….drool….. (the spinach pesto recipe is under the categories Sauces and Main Dishes. I cannot for the life of me figure out how to link back to my own recipes. Grrrrr.)


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