spinach and artichoke mac n’ cheese made vegan

The original recipe by Rachael Ray is hands down one of my favourite recipes however I don’t consume dairy anymore and wanted to figure out a way to still enjoy one of my favourites without the milk. I used almond milk which worked incredibly in place of the 2 cups of whole cows milk and I used Daiya cheese in place of Fontina cheese and Parmesan cheese. Their website describes their products as “…free of dairy (casein, whey and lactose), soy, gluten, eggs, peanuts and tree nuts (except coconut). [We] have our own production facility which eliminates the chance of cross-contamination with other pesky allergens, making our products 100% vegan.” I used two full bags of their mozzarella style shreds which lists their ingredients as…filtered water, tapioca and/or arrowroot flours, non-GMO expeller pressed canola and /or non-GMO expeller pressed safflower oil, coconut oil, pea protein, salt, vegan natural flavors, inactive yeast, vegetable glycerin, xanthan gum, citric acid (for flavor), titanium dioxide (a naturally occurring mineral).

It’s always a bit nerve-wracking putting effort into changing a household favourite. I was pleasantly surprised with how the recipe turned out. I made quite a few changes and it is definitely different than the original and I could tell but I felt so much better about eating it. Cleaner and lighter!

Spinach and Artichoke Mac & Cheese

{The recipe is adapted from Rachael Rae’s ‘Look and Cook’ book, page 42-43}

Ingredients 

  • 1 pound whole wheat bowties 
  • 2-3 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 T earth balance buttery spread (or margarine/butter if you’d like)
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves finely chopped or grated
  • 3 T all purpose flour 
  • 1/2 C dry white wine
  • 2 C unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/4 t freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 can of artichokes in water (don’t get any marinated ones, you can also find these frozen)
  • 1 (10-ounce) box of frozen chopped spinach defrosted and wrung dry 
  • black pepper and salt
  • 2 bags of Daiya shredded mozzarella cheese, could be good to try one cheddar one mozzarella or another alternative, if making the original use 1 1/2 C Italian Fontina cheese and 1 1/2 C grated Parmesan cheese

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Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta, salt the water and cook the pasta to al dente. While waiting for the water to boil place a large saucepan over medium heat with the olive oil and the butter. Next add the onions and garlic to the pan and cook until soft, this will take about 10 minutes.

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Sprinkle flour into the saucepan along with the onions. Cook for about 1 minute and then whisk in the white wine and cook for another minute. Whisk the milk into the pan and bring to a bubble.

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Add the nutmeg, chopped artichokes, spinach and salt and pepper to the sauce and simmer until it thickens and the vegetables are warmed through which should take another 2-3 minutes.

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Add one and a half bags of the Daiya cheese to the saucepan and stir until melted in. If you are using the two cheeses here, add one cup of both cheeses to the pan. The Daiya cheese takes a little bit longer to melt but it definitely will so just continue to stir until it has melted. Toss the sauce with the cooked pasta and transfer to a casserole dish. Sprinkle the last half a bag, or the remainder of the cheese over the top and brown under the broiler until browned on top. Keep an eye on the dish because the broiler can easily burn your baking!

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I really enjoyed this dish and think it tasted even better the next day as leftovers. I definitely recommend cutting down on the pasta but keeping the sauce the same. I had about 2:1 ration of sauce to pasta because the rich spinach/artichoke sauce is so incredible – not to mention good for you!

I hope you guys try this out and enjoy it as much as I did.

with love & kindness,

Sarah Alicia Harvison

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