Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Creamy Baked Macaroni & Cheese

In my pre-vegetarian days, I worked in a camp kitchen during the summers before I was married. I loved being at camp, both as a camper when I was younger and then working there when I was old enough. I helped cook and gleaned many loved recipes while working there.

One was an ultimate comfort food for children. Macaroni and cheese, of course. Since becoming vegan, it was fun to try it out without dairy. I came up with my vegan version of the favorite recipe we used at the camp. This is not without calories, I'll warn you. It's good once in a while though.
This recipe is a little different than most. It calls for a long baking time and uncooked pasta. There is no water in the recipe either. These parts of the recipe are unchanged by me. I think this is why I love this so much. It is very creamy and oh, so good. And it's nice to know that you have it in the oven and can catch up on other things while it bakes. I have used wheat free pasta: brown rice pasta and corn pasta, with good success. In fact, corn pasta seems to make it "buttery" tasting.

Creamy Baked Macaroni and (Vegan) Cheese

3 Tablespoons oil
2 1/2 cups uncooked macaroni, or 3 1/2 cups uncooked rotini
1 teaspoon homemade seasoned salt
dash cayenne
2 cups vegan cheese, shredded (1/2 pound)
1 quart unsweetened soy milk
liquid lecithin

Use the liquid lecithin to grease a 3 quart* casserole dish well (this works the best, but oil can be substituted - just a warning, this does tend to stick). Using the baking dish, mix oil, pasta, and seasonings until coated. Add cheese and milk. Stir and bake at 300 degrees F (150 degrees C) for 1 1/2 hours. Do not cover or stir during baking time. Turn off oven, but leave in an additional 1/2 hour, keeping oven door closed (total in oven time: 2 hours). Stir before serving.

*Note about size and shape of casserole dish. We used round and deep 3 quart casseroles (we served family style at all 10-12 tables). I find this to be a good thing, because there is less surface area at the top of the cooking food and less liquid evaporates. Remember, you are cooking the pasta in the oven and it will need to stay submerged as long as possible. I have made this in a 9x13 rectangular pan, but it dries out more quickly. Not really a problem per say, it's just better if you have a deeper dish.

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