Dairy-Free Baked Mac-N-Cheese

Thanksgiving is just around the corner – time to finalize your recipes, and head to the store. I was hoping to go to the grocery tonight to get ahead of the crowds, but I have a feeling it’s already slammed.

Every year, families gather around the dinner table, and most of us eat a compilation of the same foods: turkey, ham, stuffing (or “dressing,” if you’re from the South), pies, casseroles, and ahem, wine. Depending on your family traditions, you probably look forward to some of your favorite dishes every year. Personally, I love stuffing. It’s my absolute favorite – which is funny since I don’t tend to eat a ton of grains or carbs normally… Give. Me. All. The. Stuffing.

Over the past few years, I’ve become increasingly interested in the nutritional information of food, and have become aware of how unhealthy the American Thanksgiving actually is. Now, before you roll your eyes at me and say, “It’s Thanksgiving! We can eat unhealthy for one day,” hear me out. Unless you have dietary restrictions, it’s almost impossible to eat clean, and if we’re being honest, who wants to? I’m not asking you to give up your pie, or count your carbs for the day. However… why not make something you love, and make it healthy?

Here is a spin on a traditional favorite, mac and cheese. News flash – there is no cheese in it. If you’re a mac-and-cheese whore, you may miss the creaminess of real dairy-filled cheese. If you’re used to not eating dairy, you’ll love this delectable side dish. I took this to a Friendsgiving recently and my friend had THREE helpings of it, and she eats cheese all the time. That really is the best compliment ever to hear, “Um… may I have more?”

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Dairy-Free Baked Mac-N-Cheese
Serves: 8-12

For the mac and cheese:
1 small yellow onion, chopped
3 tbsp butter or vegan butter
¼ cup almond flour (super fine, or blanched)
2 cloves of garlic, pressed
lemon, a huge squeeze
1 cup coconut milk
¼ cup nutritional yeast
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp turmeric
½ tsp smoked paprika
16 oz elbow macaroni
1-2 cups of vegetable broth
1 cup frozen peas
salt and pepper

For the breadcrumb topping:
½ cup almond flour (super fine, or blanched)
½ cup flax seed mill
½ tsp pepper
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
¼ tsp oregano
pinch of paprika
olive oil

Instructions:
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Melt butter in a large skillet over low to medium heat. Add onions, and simmer for 5 minutes or until translucent. Be sure to stir occasionally. Add pressed garlic, and a squeeze of your lemon, and continue to cook for a few more minutes.
2. Add a good squeeze of lemon and stir to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pan. Add coconut milk, nutritional yeast, mustard, tomato paste, turmeric, paprika, and a few pinches of salt. Let simmer for 10-15 minutes. Stir occasionally.                                                     3. Cook macaroni on stove top. You want your macaroni to be “al dente.”
3. Once the sauce is done simmering, blend in a food processor or blender, until smooth and creamy.
4. Once the macaroni is ready,  stir together the cooked pasta, half of your sauce, and peas. Transfer mixture to baking dish.
5. Add vegetable broth slowly over mixture, as well as the rest of your sauce.  It will dry out a little, while baking. Make sure it’s creamy! Add the breadcrumbs, a a little more salt, cayenne, and paprika on top. Drizzle with a little bit of olive oil and bake for 8-10 minutes, just until the crust starts to become golden brown. Remove, and serve immediately.

I hope all of you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

-xoxo, Amber

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