I’m overdue in putting this up on my wordpress page. So, here it is! A common weeknight staple in our house, this has a mild cheese flavor, like American cheese, and as most veteran dairy-free cooks know, the secret ingredient is Nutritional Yeast. You could add some Daiya cheese substitute to this also, but Daiya also uses nutritional yeast for their cheese flavor, plus pea protein and binders. So, to save my food budget, I just stick with the nutritional yeast and use a combination of a few ingredients in the recipe below that should be accessible to most, if not all, dairy-free cooks.
A little word about the credibility of this recipe (as I always appreciate it when others tell me that they actually make their recipe and that other people like it):
My son remembers having Mac n’ Cheese for most of his pre-school time. It wasn’t until he was 5 years old that his body started completely rejecting gluten/wheat and also dairy. He came up positive for dairy allergy at the doctor’s office with a deduction of celiac with regard to the wheat/gluten. I was vexed by living without diary. We lived in NJ where Italian food is prevalent. We usually had bread and pasta with cheese almost every night. Parmesan cheese became a flavoring of choice for a lot of my dishes. I made ricotta stuffed shells at least once a week. And aside from the Italian food, we loved grilled cheese and mac n’ cheese…. and rice n’ cheese. Oh, how we loved our cheese.
Trying to find ways to have “cheesy” things again is quite a challenge. After all, I’m still working on the non-dairy cheesecake recipe. In the meantime, this recipe is a big winner at home. My son, who recalls the real thing, really loves this. My fiance thinks its great and especially loves it when I add a little bit of meat sauce to it to make it a cheesy mac n’ beef. It’s decadent and satisfies our cravings for a hearty meal.
Here’s how to make it:
Cook a 16-oz package of your favorite gluten-free pasta, be careful to not overcook (I usually set the timer for two minutes less than the minimum recommended time as it will still cook a little on the stove while you are adding ingredients).
Drain the pasta and put back in the pot and turn the heat down to medium-low.
1 cup of your favorite allergen-free chicken broth
1/2 cup of Earth Balance dairy-free margarine (or 1/4 cup of light olive oil)
1/4 to 1/3 cup of Nutritional Yeast depending on how much cheese flavor you want
1 teaspoon of onion powder
1/2 teaspoon of dry mustard
salt to taste (very necessary for cheese flavor. Remember, the cheese making process involves salt)
pepper to taste (optional)
Stir and serve!
And, if you want to make it like a Hamburger Helper, or a full one-pot meal, here are some variations on the Mac n’ Cheese theme:
Chili meat or beans.
Baby spinach and sauteed onions and mushrooms.
Cubed cooked chicken and diced tomatoes with Italian seasoning.
Tuna, peas and hot sauce such as Louisiana Hot Sauce or a milder Cholula (I’ve always loved this combination).
My fiance just suggested using gluten-free beer instead of chicken broth to make the sauce. Hmm. Interesting idea. I might have to try that.
I have a friend that just makes the sauce (without the pasta) and uses it for nachos.
Do you have any more ideas?