Adventures with Daiya: Macaroni & Cheese

Vegan or not, who can deny this mac and cheese looks realistic?

I spy melting!

mac

Somewhere out there, a vegan couple is considering giving their newborn the middle name “Daiya”. Somewhere in Portland, I’ve come to accept and appreciate Daiya more than ever before.

The latest test? Adventuring into Macaroni & Cheese territory.

Vegan-traditionally, I prefer my noodles coated with a homemade nutritional yeast sauce started with a roux.  I’ve been on a roller coaster ride of Daiya experiences this past year, and I’ve been holding out for a real winner. With that, these Shells & Cheese with Daiya are now in the lead.

This vegan version is based on an adaptation from Serious Eats of Martha Stewart’s Macaroni and Cheese from The Martha Stewart Living Cookbook: The Original Classics.

Macaroni and Cheese with Daiya 101

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 tablespoons Earth Balance
  • 4 cups unsweetened nondairy milk
  • ½ cup flour (I used chickpea)
  • 1 clove grated or minced garlic
  • 1 heaping teaspoon coarse salt
  • generous pinch of freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8th teaspoon of freshly ground nutmeg
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • 2 cups of Cheddar Daiya (1 package)
  • ½ cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 pound of pasta, such as shells, cooked al dente.
  • ¼-1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • Optional: 2 tablespoons additional vegan cheese (homemade or packaged), or tahini
  • Optional: 1 tablespoon miso

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a 9×13 casserole dish.
  2. Melt the margarine over medium heat in a large sauce pan. Add the garlic and stir frequently, cooking an additional 1-2 minutes. Quickly whisk in the flour.
  3. Stir in the milk and cook until thickened, 8-10 minutes. Whisk frequently.
  4. Remove the sauce pan from heat and stir in the spices, salt, pepper, Daiya, nutritional yeast, and any additional ingredients.
  5. Carefully pour the cooked macaroni into the cheese sauce. Mix well with a wooden spoon or spatula.
  6. Even more carefully, pour the mixture into the casserole dish. Cover with breadcrumbs, as desired.
  7. Bake until golden brown on top, about 30 minutes.
  8. Optional: broil an additional 3-5 minutes for a crispier top layer.
  9. Let cool just a bit, and serve. And eat.

Consider: Adding chopped green vegetables to the last few minutes of pasta cooking, and consequently, into your mac.

Serves: A lot! I would recommend halving the recipe if you’re feeding 1-2 and don’t want leftovers for days.

Saucin’ and whiskin’

sauce

The melt: Daiya’s super duper melt remains revolutionary and the most impressive (and therefore, grossest?) on the market. I like to picture of a team of Susie-esque mad vegan scientists hard at work in Canada furthering their developments, and occasionally taking a snack break with Tings.

The taste: As my friend Maeve has so elegantly stated, it’s like Velveeta went vegan. Say what you will.

The verdict: I wouldn’t make this again. Using shredded Daiya felt like cheating, and I just don’t love the taste. Appreciate, sure. Like enough, maybe. However, it was fun adventure, and my mind was boggled at how the Daiya melted and stretched and sauced!

Shells and Cheese with Daiya 101

mac