Recipe Makeover: Dairy Free Gluten Free Mac and Cheese

“Could you remake your own recipe for me?” I had to chuckle when I opened up an email the other day. Months ago I had posted a baked mac and cheese recipe which was simply a healthier version of a common comfort food. Now someone needed me to remake it so it would be dairy and gluten free. Fortunately, that’s quite easy to do.

The milk: Good baked macaroni and cheese recipes call for evaporated milk. Evaporated milk is simply milk where some of the liquid is evaporated out to concentrate the milk proteins. As such, it’s easy to make your own vegan evaporated milk. One method is to use soymilk powder where you make two times the serving with one serving of liquid. Another method is to start with double the amount of soymilk or flaxmilk or coconut milk you need and slowly cook it down over low heat, stirring frequently, until you have about one half the amount of milk. One can of evaporated milk is equal to 1 1/2 cups so for the mac and cheese you need to make 3 cups of evaporated milk. A third method is to add soymilk powder to a serving of soymilk. All three methods give you the concentrated protein to liquid ratio you need for evaporated milk.

The cheese: Daiya is the vegan cheese easiest for me to get at the grocery store so it’s the brand I use, but I’m not always happy with the flavor. So for a macaroni and cheese, I mix cheddar and mozzarella cheese together and use the onions and garlic and seasonings to flavor the cheese before adding it to the rest of the casserole.

The noodles:  For mac and cheese you want noodles which stand up well when cooking, which have a good flavor, and which will cradle all the yummy cheese sauce. For a gluten free pasta, I like Ancient Harvest Gluten Free Quinoa shells. It has a nice texture and flavor and the bonus is you get extra protein and fiber.

 Gluten Free Dairy Free Macaroni and Cheese

Ingredients:

one pound Ancient Harvest Gluten Free Quinoa shells

2 links chicken Italian sausages, fully cooked variety

one 16 oz thawed frozen broccoli florets

2 cups Daiya mozzarella shreds

2 cups Daiya cheddar shreds

2 tsp minced garlic

1/4 cup chopped frozen onions (can use fresh, too)

1 tsp ground black pepper

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

3 cups homemade vegan evaporated milk

4 eggs plus 1/2 cup liquid egg whites

Cooking Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees and very lightly grease a 9 x 13 pan. (I normally use a little bit of olive or grapeseed oil.)

2. Prepare the gluten free noodles as directed on the package, but cook it one minute less than indicated. Drained the noodles and put them into a large bowl.

3. In a food processor, chop up the two sausage links into fine pieces and add to the noodles.

4. In a food processor, chop up the thawed broccoli florets into fine pieces and add to the noodles.

5. Mix the two cheeses well with the garlic, onions, black pepper and nutmeg.  Divide out 3 cups and leave the leftover one cup for the topping.

6.  Mix the cheese well with the noodles.

7. Whisk well together the vegan evaporated milk with the eggs and egg whites. Pour into the noodle bowl and combine.

8. Using a ladle, scoop out the mac and cheese into the 9 x 13 pan. When you reach the end of the noodles, pour any leftover milk/egg mixture from the bottom of the bowl onto the noodles in the pan. Gently tap the noodles to make them even in the pan.

9. Sprinkle the leftover shredded cheese over the top of the noodles.

10. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes or until the sauce is bubbling at the edge and no longer liquidy in the center.

11. Broil the top for a minute or two so the vegan cheeses can “melt”.

12. Remove from the oven, and let the mac and cheese sit for 10 minutes before serving.

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