If you like being able to enjoy comfort food but really dislike that uncomfortable feeling you have after having eaten something rich, then today’s recipe will really appeal to you. I’ve taken an already-healthier version of macaroni and cheese and veganized it for your dining pleasure. I even tried to use mostly gluten free ingredients. I didn’t have any gluten free breadcrumbs on hand, but if you do, then have at it and make this dish 100% gluten free as well as vegan 😉 For anyone that cares, I was even able to keep the Points Plus values exactly the same as the original recipe.
Instead of animal-based cheese, milk, butter and parmesan, I used Daiya cheddar cheese shreds, vegan Parmesan, Earth Balance butter and nonfat plain soymilk. You can see (or mostly see, heehee) the ingredients I used pictured below.
Not only does this recipe afford you the delight of indulging in a lighter version of mac-n-cheese, but I find casserole-style recipes such as these are perfect for prepping meals for the week. This dish serves eight, which means you’ll not only have dinner prepared, but for smaller families (my family is myself, the hubby, and the cat) you’ll already have something prepared for lunch later in the week (or a repeat dinner). Wrapping the leftovers in individual servings and then freezing them for the next time a mac-n-cheese craving strikes is also an option.
- cooking spray
- 12 oz uncooked pasta, gemelli or other twisted pasta (about 2 1/2 cups) (I used gluten free pasta, but stick to regular pasta if you prefer)
- 1/8 tsp table salt, for pasta cooking water
- 10 oz uncooked broccoli, small florets (about 2 1/2 cups)
- 1 tsp Earth Balance vegan butter
- 1/3 cup(s) fresh breadcrumbs
- 3 Tbsp grated vegan Parmesan cheese, divided
- 2 1/2 cup(s) fat free soy milk
- 1/3 cup(s) all-purpose flour (I used gluten free AP flour, but you can use regular AP if you prefer)
- 1/2 cup(s) uncooked onion(s), diced
- 1 cup Daiya shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 1/2 tsp table salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
- Preheat oven to 375ºF. Coat a shallow 2-quart baking dish with cooking spray.
- Cook pasta in a large pot of lightly salted boiling water according to package directions, adding broccoli to water 3 minutes before pasta will be done; drain pasta and broccoli and return to pot.
- Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, melt Earth Balance butter over medium heat; add bread crumbs and cook, stirring often, until light golden, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer crumbs to a small bowl; stir in 1 tablespoon of vegan Parmesan cheese and set aside.
- In same saucepan (wipe clean if necessary), whisk together soy milk and flour until blended; add onion. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking frequently. Reduce heat to low and simmer until thickened, about 2 minutes.
- Remove from heat and whisk in Daiya cheddar cheese, mustard, salt, pepper and remaining 2 tablespoons of vegan Parmesan cheese. Pour over cooked, drained pasta and broccoli; toss to mix and coat.
- Transfer to a baking dish and sprinkle top evenly with bread crumbs. Bake until bubbly at edges, about 20 to 25 minutes. (This is the part where the last minute I turned on my broiler to brown the breadcrumbs.) Divide into 8 pieces and serve. Yields 1 piece per serving.
Here’s something I did on my own; something that was not called-for in the original recipe. For that last minute or two, I turned my broiler on just to give those breadcrumbs a golden crisp. As you can see, I was slightly distracted and underestimated the strength of my own oven and so, my breadcrumbs were a touch too browned. If you do decide to use your broiler, keep an eye of those sensitive little breadcrumbs 😉