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Vegan Macaroni and Cheese with "Bacon Bits" Recipe

Make your own vegan bacon bits using coconut flakes and add crunch to your "creamy" macaroni and cheese.

Servings: 4
Prep time: 15 minutes, plus soaking cashews overnight
Total time: 1 hour 30 minutes


for the coconut bacon:
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon liquid smoke
2 cups coconut flakes

for the pasta:
1 head garlic
1 medium yellow onion
2 tablespoons olive oil
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 ¼ cups|200 grams raw cashews, soaked overnight and drained
½ cup|125 grams full-fat coconut cream
⅓ cup nutritional yeast
2 tablespoons miso paste
2 teaspoons tomato purée
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon whole grain mustard
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
1 ½ pounds|750 grams dried vegan macaroni
4 ounces|113 grams shredded vegan cheddar cheese


  1. Make the coconut bacon: Heat the oven to 400°F|200°C. In a large bowl, mix together the maple syrup, paprika, soy sauce, vegetable oil, and liquid smoke. Toss in the coconut flakes and stir to coat. Spread into a single layer on a baking sheet and cook, stirring occasionally, until toasted, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
  2. Make the pasta: Heat the oven to 400°F|200°C. Slice the top of the garlic to expose some of the cloves inside. Peel and roughly chop the onions into 1-inch pieces. Place on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and bake until the garlic is caramelized and tender, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool slightly, then squeeze the garlic cloves into a blender. Add the cashews, coconut cream, nutritional yeast, miso, tomato purée, paprika, mustard, and turmeric and 2 cups water. Purée until smooth and season with salt and pepper. Set the sauce aside.
  3. Turn the oven to the broil setting. Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, following the instructions on the box. Drain, then toss with the reserved sauce and ⅔ of the coconut bacon. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to a 9-inch-by-13-inch baking dish. Top with the cheese and broil until the cheese has melted, 2 to 3 minutes. Garnish with the reserved coconut bacon and serve.

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