Over the years, I’ve more or less stuck to the same vegan macaroni and cheese recipe. It is so delicious that even in times when my family has gone back to “just vegetarian,” we always make our mac and cheese vegan. It doesn’t really taste like cheese, but it has that savory, creamy, totally addictive thing going for it.
I’ve played with different ingredients and spice combinations, but I find that I prefer to keep things really simple. As yummy as sauteed onions, garlic, carrots, bell peppers, or other ingredients are pureed into a mac and cheese sauce, I rarely go to all that trouble. But last night, as I was eating a bagel with my favorite red pepper spread from Trader Joe’s, I had an inspiration: I could add that to my mac and cheese for a super easy, tasty twist! We tried it today for lunch and it was fantastic! I also made a couple of other variations from my original recipe – using white macaroni noodles (that’s all they sell at Trader Joe’s), and omitting the turmeric and the bread crumbs. The turmeric was only in my original recipe for color, but I find that if I use something red (red pepper, tomato paste, or paprika), the combination of that with the yellow nutritional yeast gives the final dish a nice orange color.
Vegan Red Pepper Macaroni and Cheese
- 1 lb (16 oz) dry macaroni noodles
- 3 Tbsp Earth Balance margarine (same measure of oil works, too)
- 3 Tbsp whole wheat pastry flour (white is fine)
- 1 tsp sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 3 cups plain nondairy milk (I used soy)
- 3 Tbsp Red Pepper Spread (if you don’t have this, you can sub tomato paste)
- 1/2 cup nutritional yeast flakes
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 2-quart baking dish (or 8 x 8 square pan).
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Prepare macaroni noodles according to package directions.
While your water is heating and noodles are boiling, work on the sauce. In a small dish, stir together flour, sea salt, and pepper. Add 3 Tbsp earth balance to a medium sauce pan, and melt over medium heat. Whisk in flour mixture until smooth and glossy. Add nondairy milk and continue to whisk to be sure there are no lumps in the mixture. Add the red pepper spread, and continue stirring, intermittently, until mixture comes to a boil. Remove from heat, and whisk in nutritional yeast flakes.
Drain pasta and add it to the sauce. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes. It will be a little soupy when you first pour it in, but don’t worry! The pasta absorbs the sauce as it bakes.
Cool for about 5 minutes, and serve.