It sounds like a misnomer doesn’t it? Dairy free mac and cheese? The dish which is almost entirely dairy? And yet, it is entirely possible. There are tons of great dairy free and vegan recipes out there, often involving cheese substitutions or cashew nuts. I’ve been experimenting with Tesco’s (UK) new Free From non-dairy range, and wanted to try my usual go-to mac cheese recipe to see what would happen.
From here on out, any “cheese”, “milk” etc referred to is NON DAIRY. You can argue amongst yourselves if these things should even be called cheese and milk.
I use the Tesco Soya Medium which is the one that says “Tangy” on it, as I feel it has quite a cheesy flavour, but I expect this could work with the rest of the range too. I also throw different vegetables into my macaroni cheeses, in this instance it was a leek.
- 300g Macaroni Pasta
- 180g Tesco Tangy Soya Medium plus a bit more to sprinkle on top
- 600ml Soya Milk (basic store brand works fine)
- 2 tbsp Plain Flour
- 2 tsp Tesco Soya Spread (could use Pure)
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1 tsp Pepper
- 1 tsp Paprika
- 1 Leek
Cook the pasta according to the package instructions. I usually throw a pinch of salt in with the water.
In a medium saucepan add the grated “cheese”, flour, “milk”, spread, salt, pepper and paprika. Yes, all at once. Over a medium heat, allow to boil and then lower until it’s just simmering. STIR VERY VERY FREQUENTLY. I found that this thickened a lot quicker than when I had used dairy in the past.
Once the pasta is cooked, the sauce has thickened and the leeks are looking tasty, combine them all in one of the things you used to cook any of the above in (I usually use the sauce saucepan). Stir so the macaroni soaks up lots of the sauce.
Transfer into a greased (use the soya spread) dish. Sprinkle the remaining “cheese” on top. Cook in the oven at 200°C for 25 minutes. The “cheese” doesn’t really bubble how you might be used to, but does crisp off nicely.
In terms of taste, one of my vegan friends commented that they’d never realised how much of the “comfort taste” actually came from the pasta. It, of course, is not going to taste exactly like you are used to, however it still produces a very tasty dish. The texture reminds me of when I used to make mac cheese with brie instead of cheddar.
Overall, as a quick and comforting favourite sans dairy, I love it and will be using the Tesco subs in future.
Quick note on the recipe: has its roots in the quick cheese sauce recipe found in the brilliant Nosh4Students and Vegetarian Nosh4Students. I’ve used that one as a base for my lazy mac cheeses for years, whilst tweaking it to my preference over time (mostly precision of ingredients for a more consistent result).