My boyfriend is adamant that mac n’ cheese is a necessity at the Thanksgiving table. Although I’m an enthusiastic proponent of mac n’ cheese in most situations, I’m just not used to seeing it among the turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes. It’s not one of my family’s food traditions. Am I an anomaly? Are there any other Thanksgiving food traditions I’m missing out on? At any rate, this one is for those of you that do need mac n’ cheese included in your Thanksgiving spread.
I’ve made a couple mac recipes for the blog before, but this is my favorite by far. It has fontina and extra sharp white cheddar, and a secret ingredient: vegan cream cheese. I know, I know. I can hear you saying, “Amy, what’s the point of vegan cream cheese when you have real cheese and milk? Doesn’t that negate the vegan-ness?” Yes, of course it does. You could use non-vegan light cream cheese instead. But the “cream cheese” adds a creamy, luscious texture (as well as wonderful flavor), with a fraction of the fat, saturated fat, and calories a third cheese would add. That, along with the low-fat milk base, is how I kept this mac n’ cheese lighter than its taste and texture would suggest. Most definitely worthy of a place on your Thanksgiving table.
Creamy Fontina & White Cheddar Mac n’ Cheese
- 1 pound uncooked cavatappi pasta
- ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
- 2⅔ cups 1% milk
- 3 ounces shredded fontina cheese
- 3 ounces shredded extra-sharp white cheddar cheese
- 4 ounces vegan cream cheese (such as Tofutti) or light cream cheese
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon dry mustard
- ¼ teaspoon onion powder
- ¼ cup reserved pasta water
- ⅓ panko bread crumbs
- 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
- Parsley, for garnish (optional)
- Preheat oven to 375ºF. Cook pasta according to package instructions. Reserve ¼ cup of the cooking liquid before draining.
- Add the flour to a large saucepan. Slowly whisk in the milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened (7 to 8 minutes).
- Add the cheeses to the milk mixture and stir until all cheeses are melted and mixture is smooth, 2 to 3 minutes. Add salt, dry mustard, and onion powder and stir until combined.
- Add the cooked pasta to the cheese mixture, along with the reserved pasta water, and stir until all noodles are coated. Transfer mixture to a 2-quart casserole dish.
- Combine panko and melted butter and toss until combined. Sprinkle on top of pasta mixture. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until topping is golden brown and cheese is bubbling. Top with chopped parsley for garnish, if desired.