When I discovered the magical thing that happens when coconut milk and vinegar are combined with agar, I was instantly eager to try it out in a macaroni and cheese dish. Once I created the coconut base for this, I began to add in other elements to give it a “cheddar” appearance and smoky essence, which resulted in a cheese with a fantastic aroma, melty texture and a superior depth of flavor. This version of macaroni and cheese is also soy- and nut-free, and requires only a minimal amount of added oil.
One can of full-fat, good-quality coconut milk
1/2 tsp coconut vinegar
2/3 tsp salt
1 tsp agar powder
a few dashes of liquid smoke
1/4 tsp turmeric (for color)
a few dashes of white pepper
1/4 teaspoon of smoked paprika
1 cup of uncooked pasta of your choice (I used bowtie)
1 tsp olive oil
2 shallots, minced
5-6 cloves of garlic, minced
1/8 cup nutritional yeast (optional)
Heat the coconut milk in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Whisk until well-emulsified.
Add in the vinegar, salt and agar and whisk continuously until it comes to a small boil. Continue to whisk at a small boil for about two minutes more and then remove from the heat. Add in the liuid smoke, turmeric, white pepper and smoked paprika and stir well.
Pour the mixture into a shallow glass pyrex dish, cover with saran wrap, and place in the refrigerator for at least an hour to gel.Boil the pasta in plenty of water according to the package instructions.
While the pasta is cooking, saute the shallots and garlic in a bit of olive oil in a saute pan until softened, about 5 minutes. Drain the pasta and add about half of it to the saute pan with the shallots and garlic. Grate the gelled cheese into the pasta and mix well, adding more cooked pasta as desired. Add in the nutritional yeast, if desired.
To serve, place the desired amount of macaroni and cheese into bowls. Toast a handful of the breadcrumbs in a dry pan for about a minute over medium heat. Sprinkle the pasta with the toasted breadcrumbs and finish off with some dried parsley.