Lactard friendly macaroni & cheese

|Prep time: 30 min | Cooking time: 1 hour|Dairy-free Mac & Cheese

Yields 5-6 servings.

Although I have nothing against cheese, it has something against me. It’s a love-hate relationship, and I’m always on the losing end. Comfort food should never hurt you. It’s not supposed to do that!

You’ve likely noticed that I still use dairy in many of my meals, however, I do my best to avoid it when I can. I had heard rumours of vegan-friendly imitation cheese recipes so I decided to research some vegan cooking techniques. As a lactard (and a recovering vegetarian) who’s not yet willing to switch camps, I made it my quest to figure out a dairy-free variation of one of my favourite comfort foods: macaroni and cheese.

To be honest, most of the recipes I found were loaded with salt. It took a lot of experimenting, but I finally settled on something that didn’t leave me feeling like a piece of tinder for starting a fire after eating. So here you are, lactard friendly macaroni and cheese, with meat. Of course, if you don’t like meat for whatever reason, feel free to take it out of the mix.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
  • 150-200g thick-sliced ham, coursely chopped after cooking
  • 1-2 stocks of celery, diced
  • 1 vine ripened tomato, diced
  • a dash of sea salt and black pepper
  • 4 medium garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1/2 a head of broccoli, trimmed to a spoon worthy size
  • 1/2 a head of cauliflower, trimmed to a spoon worthy size
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 250-300g of fusilli
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 40ml all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • a couple generous cracks of black pepper
  • 75ml nutritional yeast
  • 300ml unsweetened soy milk
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice

PS, multitasking will be a lifesaver while cooking this meal. Prep as much as you can beforehand to get the timing down.

Directions

  1. Get the oven preheating to 400°F. Make sure that your rack is mounted in the centre of your oven.
  2. Pour 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil into a large frying pan over a medium-low flame and heat until shimmering. Add the onions and cook over a low flame, stirring occasionally, until deep golden brown and caramelized. It’ll take between 30-45min to caramelize them. When done, season well with salt and pepper, setting them aside in a bowl (see step 5 for multitasking).
  3. Once the onions have been seed aside, fry up the ham. Get it golden brown on both sides, remove it from the pan and chop it up. Add it to the onions.
  4. Next, in the leftover oil, fry the tomato and celery until the celery is tender. Once done, add it to the ham and onion mixture.
  5. While the onions are being caramelized, place the broccoli, cauliflower, and garlic on a  baking tray. Add the white pepper, a dash of sea salt, and drizzle roughly a tablespoon of vegetable oil overtop, tossing the mixture well. Roast the mixture in the oven until lightly browned and cooked through. This will take about 15 minutes. Remove the baking tray and set aside to cool when done.
  6. As soon as you’re ready, bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil over a high flame. Add the fusilli and cook until al dente. Drain in a colander, placing the noodles back in the pot after draining.
  7. While the fusilli is cooking, pour 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil to a small saucepan over a medium flame and heat until shimmering. Add the flour, Dijon, paprika, salt, and black pepper to the oil, whisking rapidly until smooth. While whisking from time to time, cook the mixture until the flour has darkened slightly in colour. Gently whisk in the nutritional yeast and continue to cook, whisking occasionally, until the yeast has been lightly browned.
  8. Slowly add the soy milk and gently whisk it all together until evenly combined. Stir in the tomato paste and lemon juice. Increase the heat to a medium high flame and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture comes to a simmer and thickens. This will take between 2-5 minutes.
  9. Once the pasta has been drained, add the vegetable mixture, as well as the onion mixture to the fusilli, stirring well. Once combined, over a low flame, add the thickened imitation cheese mixture. Continue heating until steam begins to rise, stirring occasionally. Add salt and pepper to taste.
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