Does vegan cheese measure up?

Kale and pumpkin pepperjack mac 'n cheeseThat is the question.

Surprisingly, I made a delicious kale and pumpkin pepperjack mac ‘n cheese for dinner the other night and you wouldn’t believe how good the results were. Allow me to explain.

I’ve always been curious of the brand Daiya since a number of my vegan friends swear by it. “It melts! It stretches!” – something I have yet to believe and see with my own eyes. A bag of shredded Daiya cheese goes for about $5.00 in the store so when I saw it on sale at UNFI for $1.50, I decided to jump on it.

I picked up the pepperjack flavour and was so excited to try it. I was thinking of making tacos but I really wanted to take advantage and put its melting factor to the ultimate taste. I was surprised to say it stood up to the test! No clumps, no lumps. It melted right into my bechamel sauce so seamlessly. Pleasantly surprised. As for the flavour, well, it is nothing like real cheese, but it is a fantastic substitute for it! Really curious to try other flavours in their brand…

As for the actual recipe, the sauce is my standard bechamel sauce that works as a perfect foundation for any mac ‘n cheese recipe. Feel free to switch up types of cheese and mix ins. Mac ‘n cheese is such a fool proof recipe — you really can’t go wrong. Of course, you can go all the way and make this recipe vegan by using a non-dairy milk. I would recommend using a nut or soy milk. Again, up to you. Make it yours because you’ll be the one eating it!
Kale and pumpkin pepperjack mac 'n cheeseKale and pumpkin pepperjack mac ‘n cheese

What you’ll need to do:
– 1 pkg (375g) whole wheat macaroni
– 1 tsp ghee
– 2 cloves garlic, minced
– 1 bunch kale, leaves only, chopped
– 1 tbsp ghee
– 2 rounded tbsp all purpose flour
– 1 can (14oz) evaporated milk
– 1 pkg (247g) Daiya Pepperjack Style Shreds
– 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
– 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
– Salt and pepper, to taste

What you’ll need to do:
1. In a pot of salted boiling water, cook your pasta according to packaged directions until al dente. Drain, rinse, and set aside.
2. In a medium saucepan, melt 1 tsp of ghee over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and saute for 30 seconds. Add the kale and cook until wilted down, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
3. In a small saucepan, melt the remaining ghee over medium-high heat. Add the flour and whisk until it forms a paste.
4. Slowly dribble in the evaporated milk while whisking. By slowly adding the milk, you are decreasing the chances of having a clumpy bechamel or white sauce. Lower the heat to low.
5. Add the cheese in and mix with a wooden spoon until it is fully melted.
6. Add the rest of the ingredients until everything is well incorporated.
7. In a medium casserole dish, mix the macaroni, kale, and cheese sauce together. Serve as is or top with more cheese and bread crumbs and broil for 5-10 minutes or until the top is browned. Makes 6 servings.

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