My mother used to make a delicious baked macaroni and cheese topped with (accidentally vegan) Ritz cracker crumbs and paprika. The sauce began with a roux to make a rich béchamel and was baked to perfection. Note: The texture of this baked casserole is meant to be firm, not saucy. The optional shredded vegan cheese makes the sauce richer, but it’s delicious without it.
- 16 ounces (454 g) elbow macaroni
- Olive oil or vegan butter, for preparing the baking dish
- 4 tablespoons (56 g) vegan butter
- 1/4 cup (31 g) all-purpose flour
- 5 cups (1.2 L) plain unsweetened nondairy milk
- 1 teaspoon salt 1/3 cup (20 g) nutritional yeast, plus more as needed
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 cup (112 g) shredded vegan cheese (optional)
- 1 cup (72 g) finely crushed Ritz crackers
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) melted vegan butter
1. To make the pasta: 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 (240 ml) of pasta cooking water. Drain the pasta and set aside.
2. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Lightly grease a 9 × 13-inch (23 × 33 cm) baking dish with olive oil or vegan butter. Set aside.
3. To make the sauce: In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter.
4. 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.
5. Add 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 as much of the 1 cup (240 ml) of reserved cooking water as desired.
6. Add the cooked macaroni to the sauce and stir to combine.
7. In a small bowl, stir together the cracker crumbs, paprika, and melted butter to combine.
8. 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.
Makes 4 to 6 servings