A normally unhealthy dish gets a whole food based makeover. This vegan sharp white mac and cheese bake is as creamy and delicious as it’s dairy counterpart!
Let’s talk cheese sauce. After the huge success of my original Ultimate Cheese Sauce, magic in the kitchen happened again and my Sharp White Cheese Sauce was born. This one has been just as popular so far, which makes me do a happy dance, Elaine style (Seinfeld reference for all my fans out there). I love when I can create a healthy version of a traditionally unhealthy dish. No bloating for me!
Ultimately it comes down to the fact that I love food, as if that wasn’t apparent, but furthermore, I love good food. I only eat what tastes amazing, and when we made this diet change I was not going to settle for less than absolutely delicious. And I’m here to tell you that this new vegan white mac and cheese bake is definitely not less.
I can make almost anything plant based!
When I made the sauce, I was trying to recreate the flavor from a mac and cheese at a favorite restaurant of ours. We were with some friends that ordered it and literally almost passed out from how good they said it was. The very first thing I thought was “I can make this, without all the unhealthy stuff.”
Disclosure here, I had to try a bite in order to know what I was going for. I couldn’t create something I had never tried, but one bite was all it took for me to know for sure that it could be done. So off I went to make the impossible possible. I was going to create a creamy baked sharp white mac and cheese with a crispy topping all using vegetables, no oil, no dairy, and a gluten-free topping. No pressure there!
I knew the sauce I could definitely do since I had my original vegan cheese sauce already solidified in the books. I simply used the white versions of the veggies from that sauce, and played with the different spices and seasonings.
But making a baked pasta that stayed creamy and did not dry up, plus have noodles that were not mushy, was a challenge. Plus having a gluten free crispy topping without added oil or butter was not going to be easy. After a few trials with the sauce, I figured out how to keep this mac and cheese bake creamy and al dente. Done.
Hemp seeds are such a great whole food fat!
Now enter Manitoba Harvest and their email to me about partnering up for a post using their Hemp Hearts…I immediately knew what I was going to do. Hemp hearts, other than being one of my favorite things ever, have an amazing whole food fat content that when pulsed with things give the appearance of added oil or butter.
Side note, although this post is sponsored by Manitoba Harvest, I have loved their products and used them long before they even know who I was, plus I only endorse things I love here.
It’s magic I tell ya!
This is the perfect main meal, holiday side, or “put stretchy pants on, sit on the couch and gorge” type of recipe. Not saying I do that, but you know, in case that’s your thing 😉 I’m happy to report that I have served this to our friends and they can not believe it has no dairy.
This is my ultimate success. Like a magician plays tricks on the eyes, I play tricks on the palate. Your mouth says yes this is cheese…but I say it’s actually veggies mixed ever so carefully with other flavors to give you the illusion instead. Vegan white mac and cheese in disguise.
So, now your job is to experience this illusion. Better yet, serve it to your friends, family, guy off the street (no wait don’t do that, it could be dangerous) and DON’T tell them it isn’t dairy.
If you really want a laugh, just leave it be. And every time they come over and tell you that they could NEVER give up dairy, giggle a bit because you know something they don’t 😉
Vegan Baked Mac and Cheese
- 2 - 2 ½ cups Vegan White Cheese Sauce , recipe makes about 3 1/2 cups
- 1 ½ cups water or water from cooking veggies , can also use veggie broth for an extra flavor boost
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- ½ - 1 teaspoon mustard seed powder , take out or use less if you don't want it too sharp
- ¾ teaspoon chickpea miso , see note
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 12 ounces your favorite pasta , gluten-free if needed
- Preheat oven to 350 F (175 C).
- Make cheese sauce according to recipe.
- After it’s blended, add the water, extra apple cider vinegar, mustard seed powder, chickpea miso and salt. Add slowly and taste as you go to get desired flavor.
- Blend again. It will now taste much stronger and be watery, but this is ok. When baking, it loses a bit of flavor and creaminess so this will make sure that it is perfectly flavored and creamy after baked.
- Put all crispy topping ingredients into a food processor if using hemp seeds. Process until well combined. If using almond flour you can just mix it.
- Cook pasta for only about 2-3 minutes. You will be baking this so this prevents mushy noodles. Although it doesn’t seem like a long time, if you overcook then your noodles will end up mushy after baked, especially if using gluten-free noodles.
- Once pasta is done, drain and rinse well to prevent too much starchiness in the baked dish.
- Return to the pot and mix in the cheese sauce. Start with 2 cups but if you want it extra saucy add 2 ½.
- Pour into a square baking dish. Sprinkle crispy topping over it evenly.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes until crispy on top. Start checking at 15 minutes to ensure your pasta doesn’t overcook. Different pastas types cook differently. You can also broil the last few minutes to get it brown and extra crisp on the top.
- Using hemp seeds gives a more crisp baked topping due to the oils in the hemp seeds. If you use almond flour it would be better to add a little butter or oil over the top to get the same crisp but it is still good without.
- If you don’t have chickpea miso, you can try using a white miso although it will be a little more mild in flavor so you may need more, especially if you want it nice and sharp tasting.
- Make cheese sauce and crispy topping.
- This can be baked a little longer for baby and pulsed into a smooth or chunkier food. If baby is new to foods, you can also leave out the extra spice/seasoning ingredients in the sauce and it will be less sharp.
Recipe by Veggies Don’t Bite, visit our site for more great plant-based recipes.