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Bacon Mac and Cheese

by Lauren Toyota from Vegan Comfort Classics

This Vegan Bacon Mac and Cheese recipe from Vegan Comfort Classics is the ultimate comfort food, and proves that a lip-smackingly tasty macaroni cheese, with (mushroom) bacon no less, can be plant-based.

From the book


It’s the best mac & cheese ever! Says anyone who’s tried our classic version. Just a couple of tweaks and some smoky shiitake bacon thrown into the mix and we have ourselves a real winner! Anyone who knows me (in real life or online) knows that my obsession for mac & cheese is fierce, unrelenting, and maybe even a bit of a problem. I dream about swimming in it! Hands down, I’m like a sommelier for vegan mac & cheese. So trust me on this one—don’t mess with it. You’ll be tempted to, ’cause I know you. But don’t. Once you pour that cheese sauce in the skillet, it will be near overflowing. You literally COULD swim in the skillet there’s that much cheese sauce. Don’t omit any amount of it, unless you like disappointment.

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For the Mushroom Bacon:
1 tbsp vegetable oil
Bacon marinade (see below)
4 oz shiitake mushroom caps (about 6 large caps), sliced thin, or 2 large portobello mushrooms, sliced thin
For the bacon marinade:
¼ cup low-sodium tamari or soy sauce
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp liquid smoke
1 tsp smoked paprika
For The Parm:
2⁄3 cup raw cashews, almonds, or pistachios
¼ nutritional yeast
1 tsp sea salt
For the pasta:
3 cups elbow macaroni
For the topping:
¼ cup bread crumbs
1 tbsp The Parm
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp sea salt
Mushroom bacon
For the Mac and Cheese Sauce
1 cup raw cashews, soaked in hot water for 20 minutes
2¼ cups unsweetened nondairy milk
⅓ cup nutritional yeast
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 tbsp tomato paste
1½ tbsp miso paste
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp arrowroot or tapioca flour
1 tsp sea salt
½ tsp ground white pepper or black pepper

Essential kit

You will need: a food processor and a a 9-inch cast-iron skillet or baking dish.


To make the Mushroom Bacon: 

First, make the marinade. Combine all of the marinade ingredients together in a bowl or wide dish with a whisk or fork.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Add the vegetable oil to the marinade and combine well.

Marinate the mushrooms for 15 minutes.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Lay out the mushroom slices spaced slightly apart from each other. Reserve the excess marinade for brushing during bake time.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, flipping the slices and brushing with excess marinade halfway through the bake time. At the halfway mark, you may notice that any smaller pieces of shiitake mushrooms are already pretty crisp. Remove these pieces and place aside until the remainder is finished. When the bacon is crisp and slightly sticky, remove from the oven and transfer to a plate or another sheet to cool completely. Store in an airtight container in the fridge, and either use immediately for a recipe or consume within 7 days.

To make The Parm:

Combine all the ingredients together in a food processor and process until a fine crumb or meal is formed.

To make the Mac and Cheese: 

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

To cook the pasta, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta until al dente. Drain, but do not rinse.

To prepare the topping, combine the bread crumbs, The Parm, herbs, and salt in a small bowl.

To make the sauce, drain and rinse the cashews. Add to a high-powered blender with the remaining ingredients and blend on high until very smooth.

In a 9-inch cast-iron skillet or baking dish, stir the pasta and sauce together until the macaroni is well coated. What looks like an excess amount of sauce will thicken during baking!

Sprinkle three-fourths of the bread crumb mixture evenly on top. Sprinkle the bacon pieces liberally on top. Press them slightly into the bread crumb layer but keep them still visible. Top with the remaining bread crumbs.

Cover with aluminium foil and bake for 20 minutes.

Remove the foil and bake on the top rack of the oven for 10 minutes until the top is golden brown and the sides are bubbling slightly. Depending on your oven and the distribution of heat, you might want to set the skillet under the broiler for 5 minutes to get the top crispier instead of continuing to bake at 350°F. Serve immediately. When reheating leftovers you may want to add more nondairy milk to get it creamy once again.

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From the book: Vegan Comfort Classics

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