You may not know this, but here in Canada, we love our Kraft Dinner. More mac and cheese is consumed in Canada than anywhere else in the world- in fact, Kraft Dinner is the top selling grocery item in Canada. It’s part of our cultural identity, the result of a deliberate and calculated effort by combined political and corporate forces. As a result, it plays an important role in many Canadian’s fond childhood memories. The perfect combination of cheap ($1/box on sale), easy (7 minutes or less), and portable (hurrah powdered cheese!) means that if you ever went camping, you probably had Kraft Dinner at some point; boiled in a big pot on the Coleman stove, toxic orange powdered sauce whisked up with the noodles, raw hot dogs chopped in and ketchup strewn liberally over top. It sounds rather vile, actually, now that I think about it. But let me tell you, when you’ve been canoeing in the driving cold late -September rain for four hours since your last meal and you haven’t had anything warmer than lukewarm tea at breakfast and the GORP wedged in your back pocket in two days, Kraft Dinner is the BEST THING YOU HAVE EVER PUT IN YOUR MOUTH.
Since I’m Canadian and actually enjoyed KD once upon a time, it was an obvious choice to veganize this classic for my camping trip this year. There are a gazillion rocking, fancy shmancy, and delightfully unlikely vegan mac and cheese recipes out there. For my purposes, I wanted something 1) very close to KD in simplicity and texture, 2) totally easy to make, and 3) no blender required. So, I went with a pre-made vegan ricotta as my base. This time I used a macadamia-based one from a local vegan cheesemaker, but Tofutti makes a good one, and of course you can whiz up your own super quickly, such as this cashew-based one from The Simple Veganista. Then, it’s just a matter of tossing a few ingredients in the pasta pot after you drain the noodles and stirring it all together. Just about as easy as KD, except made with real food and, I daresay, far more delicious. Also, less embroiled in scary global food politics. Win-win!
Vegan Stovetop Mac And Cheese (with veggie dogs)
500 grams dry macaroni
2 cups vegan ricotta
1/3 cup Earth Balance
2 cloves minced garlic
2/3 cup nutritional yeast
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
3 tablespoons ketchup
cooking water, reserved from the pasta
Optional; sliced veggie dogs, more ketchup
1) Light up your Coleman stove or whatever you happen to be using to make pasta today. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, reserving 2 cups of cooking liquid
2) Add all remaining ingredients into the pot along with the drained pasta. Stir thoroughly, moistening with reserved cooking liquid until it reaches the desired consistency. We’re going for just a little sauce here, not enough to drip off the fork
3) Cut in veggie dogs and serve her up with plenty of ketchup on top. Bon appetite!