Dedication:

Mac and Cheese for Chrissy Teigen

Chrissy, the vegan cheese game is STRONG!

Laura Vincent
Aug 15 · 6 min read
Photo: Shutterstock

Welcome to DEDICATED — a new column devoted to creating new recipes dedicated to famous people who are vegan or who seem to be considering a vegan lifestyle. Because we care!

Recently a tweet of Chrissy Teigen’s found its way onto my timeline, saying that if she became vegan she would miss cheese the most; she asserted that great strides have been made in many areas of vegan food, but cheese remains lacking.

Hearing this gives me concern — if Chrissy Teigen, a celebrity in America, can’t find good vegan cheese — what hope is there for me, living in tiny little New Zealand miles away from anywhere on the other side of the world? I’ve always thought of America as a place with an abundance of stuff, whatever you wanted, you could get. This was confirmed when I travelled there in 2012 — I marvelled at the Coca-Cola flavours I didn’t know were possible, at Sonic Drive-In actively encouraging me to personalise my order and at supermarket ingredients that I’d never heard of before — Bisquick? Aunt Jemima Butter Lite Pancake Syrup? I purchased almond butter from Whole Foods as a souvenir to take back to New Zealand with the same reverence as someone buying a postcard of the Mona Lisa at the Louvre gift shop. I wasn’t even close to being vegan in 2012, I was just super excited about affordable almond butter due to the economy of scale.

And now it’s 2019, and Chrissy Teigen can’t find good vegan cheese. Now, I don’t actually know a whole lot about her — I’m not trying to be aloof, I just don’t! — but I do know her pain. I’m a relative newcomer to being vegan, and her words resonate. For a long time I really missed halloumi, and while the cheese substitutes I’ve tried have had varying degrees of success and convincingness, there’s nevertheless a certain uninviting, waxy granular vibe to many of them.

My general approach has been to mostly avoid vegan cheese altogether, and to try and recreate the mood and texture of cheese through other means. Before this sounds too gloomy, I do love being vegan, and I found that eventually I just stopped thinking about things like halloumi — I was surprised, but it really did cease to have that power over the imagination of my tastebuds.

Nevertheless, if it’s cheese that’s holding Chrissy Teigen back from becoming vegan, then it’s obviously down to me, personally, to do something about it.

Photo: Laura Vincent

So, I made this recipe dedicated to her: mac and cheese, a god-tier comfort food, something none of us should have to go without. It’s completely vegan, but importantly, there’s no spooky fake cheese in it either. And, most important of all: it’s so delicious. If this recipe doesn’t bring her over to our side, well. That’s…completely her business and a personal choice.

But for what it’s worth, I love this mac and cheese, with its super-rich creamy sauce coating the pasta.

To be specific, this recipe isn’t pretending to be actual cheese or trying to replicate all of cheese’s properties. My aim was for it to taste like the memory of cheese, if cheese is indeed just a memory for you. I used everything in my arsenal to give the sauce body and texture and fulsome, evocative flavour — salty miso, creamy soaked cashews, savoury nutritional yeast, buttery olive oil, nutty roasted carrots, warm aromatic spices, plus a splash of whatever white wine was in my parents’ fridge for added complexity. All these components mean that the sauce has a somewhat involved method, but I personally love pottering around diligently in the kitchen, so if you’re able to, set aside your afternoon and get stuck into this comforting recipe.

Photo: Laura Vincent

Ultimate Vegan Mac and Cheese, for Chrissy

Serves 4 generously

Notes:

If not serving this immediately, I recommend keeping the sauce in an airtight container in the fridge, then cooking the pasta just before you serve it, stirring the half cup of pasta cooking water into the sauce at this point. It still tastes great if you make it fully, refrigerate it, and then reheat it later, but it’s a lot less saucy.

If you can get hold of some white truffle oil, a couple of drops in the sauce will take it to the next level of luxurious.

Taste as you go to see if you think it needs more of anything! Trust your own tastebuds.

If you don’t have a stick blender or high speed blender, a regular blender will work, as will a food processor, but the results may not be as velvety. It will all still be delicious though!

Tenderly

A friendly + radical vegan magazine dedicated to living well with kindness towards animals, care for the planet, and justice for all.

Laura Vincent

Written by

Food blogger and author from New Zealand. Writing at hungryandfrozen.com; Twitter at @hungryandfrozen; and exclusive stuff at Patreon.com/hungryandfrozen.

Tenderly

Tenderly

A friendly + radical vegan magazine dedicated to living well with kindness towards animals, care for the planet, and justice for all.

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