Baked Mac and Cheese with Crispy Brussels Sprouts
Is there anything more indulgent than Baked Macaroni and Cheese? Regular Mac N Cheese is already amazing, but then when you add a topping and bake it to crispy perfection, it just brings it to a whole new level. I love the various textures, from creamy inside to crunchy around the edges, it's an adventure in every bite.
I crave this kind of comfort food (very) often, so I wanted to find a way to indulge my cravings without feeling guilty. This Baked Mac N Cheese is a little bit healthier because it uses a lighter bechamel made with vegan butter, almond milk, and nutritional yeast for the creamy, "cheesy" sauce. It's also very easy to make and takes about 40 minutes start to finish.
I highly recommend topping it with a drizzle of hot sauce and a handful of crispy Brussels sprouts leaves (see below for how to make them). Enjoy and you're welcome! ;)
1 box pasta of choice
1/3 cup vegan butter, plus 1 Tbsp melted
1/4 cup flour
3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1/3 cup bread crumbs (I used a 50/50 mix of Panko and Italian)
10-12 Brussels sprouts
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add pasta and boil for 10 minutes or until al dente. Drain and set aside. Meanwhile, in a large and deep skillet over medium low heat, add 1/3 cup vegan butter and let melt. Once butter starts to bubble, add flour and whisk constantly for about 2 minutes or until it's smooth and starting to bubble. Add almond milk, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, and a pinch of salt. Keep stirring occasionally for about five minutes, allowing to simmer and thicken. Once the sauce has thickened, remove from heat and add drained pasta to the sauce. Toss pasta to evenly coat in the cheesy sauce, and pour in a 8x8" baking pan. In a small bowl, mix breadcrumbs with a dash of paprika and 1 Tbsp of melted vegan butter. Top the pasta with a layer of the breadcrumb mixture. Cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes; remove the cover and bake for 10 more minutes or until the top is crispy golden brown.
Meanwhile, remove the outer leaves from the Brussels sprouts and place on a large baking sheet. Drizzle leaves with 1-2 Tbsp olive oil and a dash of salt, and toss to coat evenly. Place on the top shelf of the oven for the last five minutes of the mac and cheese's baking time. They will crisp up quickly so keep your eye on them. Remove crispy sprouts and allow to cool. Serve mac and cheese topped with a handful of the crispy leaves.