Autumn Series 2018, Recipes

4 Cheese Mac and Cheese – Creamy Goodness!

Hi, vegetarian carnivores! Macaroni and cheese is an incredible vegetarian comfort food, and can be made as complicated and fancy as you like. A lot of people are still eating packaged macaroni and cheese, because cooking it from scratch seems daunting to them, but that does not have to be the case! And while you can totally put in a ton of time cooking up the perfect macaroni and cheese, I personally have a little less patience. I try to take the most delicious recipes and find ways to make them accessible and easy to make for you guys. We are going to whip up a fool proof 4 cheese macaroni and cheese. It is ooey gooey yumminess with minimal effort. Just the way I like it, and I know you guys will too!

Today I am going to show you a deceptively fancy macaroni and cheese recipe. Your friends and taste buds will not be able to tell that this is not made by a professional chef. The creaminess of the sauce contrasts really well with a toasted and baked Panko layer and is sure to be a hit at any potluck or other event. And the best part? It refrigerates really well for up to 5 days so you can use it as meal prep for work and make a giant batch to share with your friends.

I have a confession

Yeah, so. I used to eat boxed mac and cheese. Like, all the time. I know, just the idea of it kind of grosses me out at this point. Depends on the brand, but I still kind of like Annie’s. Anyway, my point is that you literally have zero excuse for ever having boxed mac and cheese again. And this is sort of like a personal guarantee from me that you will be able to whip this mac and cheese up so easily and it will taste so much better than plastic cheese.

And you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you know exactly what you are eating. It is important to know what you are putting in your body, so you can look and feel your best. And that can be really hard to do if you are not the one making the food you eat. So, no “artificial colors or flavors” and absolutely no preservatives. You will notice that I have not added any salt to the recipe, and this is because cheese already carries quite a bit of it and I didn’t feel the need for it. If you need to add some, just make sure to do it at the end so you don’t miscalculate and add too much.

It is really simple

My formula for traditional mac and cheese is the same: a quick bechamel sauce as the base, and then melt in all your cheeses. Vary the cheeses, vary the flavor. In this recipe, I have made a white version with milder cheeses, so if you are in the mood for sharp cheddar etc go for it! I will add a post with my favorite cheese combinations for different recipes soon as well. Maybe add some smoked paprika if you like the flavor (I know I do!) or maybe some chili flakes for a spicy kick (also a great choice!). If you are feeling fancy and have the time, toast some Panko and bake it off. It is really what you make of it!

It is also a great recipe for all the cheese that you definitely have lying around in your fridge. I know I tend to have bits and pieces of different cheeses almost all the time. This recipe works like a charm for reducing waste and using all our ingredients before they go bad!

Ingredients

  1. 2 cups dry shell, or any short pasta
  2. 2 tbs butter
  3. 2 tsp oil
  4. 3 tbs all-purpose flour
  5. 3 cups milk, divided
  6. 1/2 cup heavy cream
  7. 1 cup mild cheddar, grated
  8. 1/2 cup Gruyere, grated
  9. 1/2 cup Swiss, grated
  10. 1/2 cup Parmesan, grated
  11. Fresh cracked pepper, to taste
  12. 1 cup Panko

Instructions

  1. Cook the pasta according to instructions.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. In a large saucepan, melt your butter and oil and add in your flour and stir with a spatula until thick with no lumps.
  4. While whisking or stirring, gradually add in 2 cups of milk and keep whisking until well combined.
  5. Whisk in your heavy cream.
  6. Reduce the heat to a simmer and keep stirring until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of the spatula.
  7. At this point, you may find that your mixture is really thick. This was the case for me, so I just added in another cup of milk gradually until the mixture loosened out.
  8. Now that your bechamel is ready, you are free to add in your cheeses! Again, do it gradually, and keep stirring to melt them in continuously. 
  9. And now that your cheeses are all melted in, go ahead and garnish with paprika or chili flakes or fresh cracked pepper! I used pepper.
  10. Mix in your pasta directly from the starchy water. You guys know how I feel about pasta water LOL 
  11. Pour the mixture into a baking safe tray.
  12. In the same saucepan as for the cheese sauce, toast your Panko until golden brown. You can do this using some butter or oil, or you can even dry toast it. It does not really matter. 
  13. Spread the toasted Panko over the mac and cheese.
  14. Bake for 25 minutes.
  15. Enjoy it straight out of the oven! 

The Results!

Would you guys just take a look at this beauty?! I know this looks like a lot of steps, but trust me when I say that making the cheese sauce took me only 10 minutes from start to finish! You don’t have to bake off the pasta if you don’t like Panko or if you don’t have the time, but I highly recommend it. This recipe requires so little effort and is totally customizable to whatever cheese you already have in your fridge!

 

 

 

 

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12 Comments

  1. Emmanuel Buysse says:

    I’m not a cheeselover, except for the Cheeseburger of the Mcdonalds.

    But my wife loves macaroni, and everything around it.

    So I’m pretty sure that when her family comes she will prepare it, except for me of course, but I will show her this post, and you will see somebody smiling.

    And that is thanks to you!

    1. Janani says:

      I’m so glad, Emmanuel! I hope your wife loves it! Thank you for sharing this recipe 🙂

  2. Tim Bennett says:

    I love cheese…

    And although I am not a big macaroni eater, this looks worth a bash!

    As I get older and have more time to myself, I am finding new hobbies and time fillers in my life and this looks like one of those…

    And it also looks like something I could experiment with adding and subtracting certain parts of it to get new flavors!

    It looks like my shopping list will be getting longer this week!

    You made me hungry now!

    Tim

    1. Janani says:

      Hi Tim! Absolutely, this is a totally customizable dish that can be made to suit any palette! Whatever your preference, there is a way to cater to it. Cooking is a wonderful hobby, and an incredible stress reliever for me and I hope it becomes equally enjoyable for you! Try this one out and share your results with me! 🙂

  3. D. W. Mann says:

    My wife really loves mac and cheese but we really are not fans of the box companies latest creations. I am glad I found your post. I know very little about Vegan food other than a few vegan friends who seemed to want to beat me up over my eating habits. Oh well, I did have a few questions for you. You said “bechamel sauce as the base” and that is not something I am familiar with. Also, 1 cup Panko. I would like to try the recipe just as described in order to understand a little about vegan cooking and see if this is something worth adding to the table for the holidays. Where would I find such items at the store? Do I have to hit a whole foods or Trader Joe’s in order to find it? Thanks

    1. Janani says:

      Hi there! Thank you for your comment and questions! Bechamel is really a fancy way of saying “melt some butter, put in flour and add milk to create a creamy base.” It is not something you need to buy, as much as three ingredients that you most likely have lying around in your pantry! Panko is breadcrumbs! I bought mine at Target, but if you prefer Trader Joe’s etc I am confident they have it too! This is definitely a delicious meal or side dish to add to the table for the holidays! I am excited for you to share your results with me!!

  4. KerryAnn says:

    Yummy. Your cheese sauce sounds absolutely devine. Thank you for sharing with us.

    I don’t eat flour or grains, but I am looking forward to making this cheese sauce with a cauliflower and broccoli bake. I guess I could put in a low carb flour, like rice flour in it.

    I like the idea of using up any scraps of cheese from the fridge, as I usually have oodles of cheese hiding in all nooks and crannies. I am always looking at ways to use them up in cooking.

    You are awesome.

    1. Janani says:

      So glad you like it! And you can definitely substitute out whatever flour you want – it is a completely modular dish so you can modify it to suit your preferences. Thank you for your comment and I am excited to see you back here 🙂

  5. Although I am a very dedicated meat eater, I do enjoy the odd meat free meal an some of the ideas here I either use or will in the future.

    1. Hi Adrian! I’m glad you are interested in trying this out! Do let me know how it goes for you 🙂

  6. Nkhosingiphile says:

    I just want to try and make mine using this recipe, i just love the fact that there are no preservatives added, and there are even no waste foods because every bits of it can be used effectively. This really can save me because all the waste foods is what i can use in this recipe and store it in the fridge as you have just mentioned.

    It really is a nice and lovely recipe. Just want to try mine.

    1. Janani says:

      Yup, no preservatives like the boxed stuff, and takes way less time than you would think! Do let me know how it goes for you!! Thank you:)

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