All the comforts of Mac and Cheese the way you remember it. From the new cookbook, Vegan Mac & Cheese by Robin Robertson (affiliate link), Mom’s Baked Mac Uncheese is creamy, cheesy, and delicious with a baked buttery crumb topping.
I’ll admit, I’m a cookbook junkie. When I was a little girl, I used to pour over cookbooks with little scraps of paper, inserting them in all the pages of the mouth-watering recipes that I wanted to try. Well, times have not really changed! Even though I can certainly come up with most recipes on my own, I’m still a sucker for a good cookbook. I was given a copy of Vegan Mac & Cheese to try out and share my honest review.
Vegan Mac & Cheese By Robin Roberson
The book Vegan Mac & Cheese by Robin Robertson does not disappoint! There are more than 50 (that’s right!) awesome plant-based recipes devoted to Mac & Cheese! Like most people, chances are you’ve eaten a lot of macaroni and cheese in your life. If you’re new to a plant-based diet, you might be wondering if you can still enjoy this comforting meal. Clearly, the answer is yes!
This cookbook doesn’t just stop at the basic Mac & Cheese variety. Yes, it has those as well, but you’ll also find recipes for Greek Spinach Orzo Bake, Buffalo Cauliflower Mac, Crabby Mac Uncheese, and more. And if you want to veg-up your mac and cheese, there is an entire chapter devoted to Mac and Veggies, with 15 veggie-loaded recipes such as Roasted Butternut Mac Uncheese, Asparagus Mac and Hollandaise, and Brussels and Bacon Cheesy Mac.
What I really appreciate about this cookbook is that it isn’t just about the recipes. When you first open the book, you are going to notice that the recipes don’t even start until page 31. The first 30 pages are dedicated to educating the reader about the various types of vegan cheese sauce, special ingredients, pasta varieties, and various cooking methods.
Tips and Tricks for Baked Mac and Cheese
I was most excited to try the recipe for this classic comfort dish: Mom’s Baked Mac Uncheese, found on page 37 of the book. It will remind you of the classic baked macaroni and cheese dish that mom used to make. (Or in my case, Grandma. I’m pretty sure that we stuck to the blue and yellow box variety!)
I start by setting my ingredients out so that they are ready to go. I try to boil my pasta at the same time I am cooking up my sauce to save some time.
The recipe gives an option to use vegan shredded cheese. I made this recipe both ways, with and without the vegan cheese. I used Follow your heart and have to say, for taste and texture, I do prefer adding in the vegan shredded cheese.
When I cook, I like to have all the ingredients out and ready to go – including the portioned plant milk and the seasonings. That way, when it’s time to add, I’m not fiddling around finding and measuring things.
I also prepared my crumb topping ahead of time. I used a whole row of Ritz Crackers and in batches, processed in my mini food processor. This is a handy little device (affiliate link). It is small enough to keep on the countertop and use it when needed. I have whole cupboards stuffed with devices, I’d rather not pull out!
Which Plant Milk is Best to Use?
The recipe calls for unsweetened dairy milk. I used oat milk. I will just caution you to make sure your plant-milk is unsweetened. Note that even some varieties of unsweetened plant-milk are plainer tasting than others and some are sweeter. Go for the plain tasting kinds of plant milk such as cashew, soy, or rice. I even found the oat milk to be a little too sweet.
The sauce is thickened by using a classic roux – that is a mixture of melted butter and flour, cook for about 2 minutes until it’s thickened and bubbly. You can make this classic roux using vegan butter, and it works just like dairy butter.
I was quite concerned the first time I made this recipe because, before baking, the sauce was very thin and liquidy. Don’t worry, because it cooks up nice and firm in the oven.
I did end up adding an extra ten minutes to the cooking time. Check after 20 minutes by lifting a portion up to see if the liquid has absorbed. Check again every three minutes or so for a total of ten minutes extra.
You’ll know it is finished when the sauce has thickened and the Mac and Cheese is firm and ready to eat.
You can order this truly fabulous Cookbook here! (Affiliate link) You too can make delicious 100% vegan Mac and Cheese meals your family will love!
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Mom's Baked Mac and Cheese
- 16 ounces elbow macaroni
- olive oil or vegan butter for preparing the baking dish
- 4 Tablespoons vegan butter
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 5 cups nondairy milk plain, unsweetened
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup nutritional yeast
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 cup vegan cheese, shredded optional
- 1 cup Ritz Crackers finely crushed
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1 Tablespoon vegan butter melted
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook according to the package directions until al dente. Reserve 1 cup of pasta cooking water. Drain the pasta and set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 350°. Lightly grease a 9x13-inch baking dish with olive oil or vegan butter. Set aside.
- In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter.
- Whisk in the flour and cook, whisking, for 2 minutes. Whisk in the milk. Add the salt. Simmer, whisking occasionally, until thick, about 5 minutes.
- Add in the nutritional yeast, mustard, onion powder, and pepper and whisk until smooth. Cook for 5 minutes until thick. Reduce the heat to low. Taste and adjust the seasoning, as needed. If the sauce is too thick, add in as much of the 1 cup of the reserved cooking water, as desired.
- Add the cooked macaroni to the sauce and stir to combine.
- If you choose to add in the vegan shredded cheese, fold it in now.
- In a small bowl, stir together the cracker crumbs, paprika, and melted butter to combine.
- Transfer the pasta mixture to the prepared baking dish, top with the cracker crumb mixture, and bake for 20 minutes, or until bubbly and golden on top.