This mac and cheese has all the flavors you want. It's got that cheesy, salty, ferment-y taste of a classic mac and cheese sauce without the dairy! It's paired with sautéed leeks, smoked carrot, and a sprinkle of cashew Parmesan, then baked until the top is crisp and the inside is warm and bubbly. Yum!

Leek and Smoked Carrot Mac and Cheese [Vegan, Gluten-Free]

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Ingredients

For the Cheese Sauce:

  • 1 large potato, peeled and cubed
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and cubed
  • 1/2 cup soy milk
  • 1 tablespoon miso paste
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon sauerkraut or pickle juice (weird, but gives it the cheesy taste)
  • 1 teaspoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon black salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

For the Cashew Parmesan Sprinkle:

  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup salted, roasted cashews
  • Salt, to taste (add more if you are using unsalted cashews)
  • 1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning or a herb mix

For the Smoked Carrots:

  • 1 carrot, peeled into thin strips with a vegetable peeler
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce or tamari
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon maple/agave/coconut sugar or your favorite sweetener
  • 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke or smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

For the Mac and Cheese:

  • 1 leek, cleaned and sliced thinly on a bias
  • Cheese sauce
  • Smoked carrots
  • Parmesan sprinkle
  • 1 cup gluten-free macaroni
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Preparation

To Make the Smoked Carrots:

  1. Make a marinade with all of the ingredients (minus the carrot). Steam the carrot strips for a few minutes or nuke it in the microwave for about 3 minutes until they are soft but still have a slight crunch. Add this to the marinade liquid and leave it in the refrigerator overnight.

To Make the Cheese Sauce:

  1. Boil the potato and carrot until tender. Blend it together with the milk, miso, lemon juice, sauerkraut juice, tomato paste, cornstarch, salt, garlic, and onion powder and smoked paprika in a blender until super smooth. If your blender is having a bit of trouble, add in a small splash of water at a time until things start to get going. Set aside.

To Make the Cashew Parmesan:

  1. Pulse all ingredients together until cashews are down to a very coarse crumb. It should take about 4-5 seconds.

To Make the Mac and Cheese:

  1. Preheat oven to 345°F. Boil macaroni according to instructions on the packet/ You want them al dente, because they will go into the oven after this, and you don't want them too soft already. As it is boiling, fry up the leek slices in some oil, vegan butter or you can steam sauté it if you don't want to use oil. Salt and pepper them well.
  2. Drain the macaroni and add the cheese sauce into it. Add the cooked leeks. Remove carrots from the smoky marinade, rinse them under water for a few seconds, and squeeze them dry in your hands. Roughly chop the carrots into shorter strips, then add this as well to the mac and cheese. Stir it well, then place it in an oven-safe dish and bake, covered for about 10 minutes.
  3. Remove from the oven, add the sprinkle and return to the oven, uncovered for about 5-10 minutes to brown the top. You can do the last step under a grill if you have one, that should take about 3-5 minutes.
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