When I was in St. Louis last week, I saw this dish on a buffet. I mentioned it here. It was made with gluten-full pasta and dairy cheese, but it sounded so good and smelled even better! I came home and hit the kitchen, working to create my own variation on this dish based on the smell alone, since I could not taste the version I saw in St. Louis.
The resulting dish is very creamy with a hint of smokiness, topped with a super crunchy crust. While I’ve used potato chips to top other casseroles, I have never used them on top of Mac ‘n Cheese and had never even considered using flavored chips. I’m glad I saw this dish and even happier I’ve got a version to eat at home.
Smoked Cheddar Mac ‘n Cheese with Potato Chip Crust
8 to 16 ounces of gluten-free pasta (I used the brown rice rotini from Trader Joe’s)
(Use less pasta for a very creamy dish, more pasta for a more solid dish. I use 16 ounces.)
2 T. Earth Balance vegan buttery sticks
1 T. Nutritional Yeast
1/4 t. fresh ground black pepper
1/4 t. smoked paprika
1/4 t. liquid smoke
2 cups unsweetened almond milk or soy creamer if you feel indulgent
1 package Daiya Cheddar style shreds (this is approximately 2 cups)
1 cup crushed Potato Chips (I used the Barbeque Popped Potato Chips from Trader Joe’s*, however they do now contain dairy, so I’m using plain chips until I can find an alternative.)
1 additional T. Earth Balance Vegan Butter-y sticks
Cook pasta, following instructions of package. Drain and rinse, if necessary. Warm oven to 350 degrees. Have an 8 x 10 baking dish ready.
On stovetop, in a small saucepan melt the Earth Balance. Once melted, add the Nutritional Yeast, pepper, paprika and liquid smoke. Stir in almond milk or creamer. Add Daiya shreds and cook over medium heat until everything is well combined and you cannot see the shreds of Daiya. Depending on the temperature of your milk and Daiya when starting, this could take from 5 to 15 minutes. Once well combined and melt-y, pour over macaroni. Stir well and pour into baking dish.
Melt the additional tablespoon of Earth Balance and add to the 1 cup of crushed potato chips. Sprinkle over the top of the Mac ‘n Cheese. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until cheese is bubbling and the potato chips are starting to brown on top. Enjoy!
I served this with stuffed tofu roast, our Thanksgiving favorite, which went very well with Mac ‘n Cheese. I couldn’t wait for Thanksgiving to make some of our Autumn favorites again!
*The Trader Joe’s popped chips contain no gluten ingredients but do say on the package they are processed in a facility that also processes wheat. I eat these with no problem, but wanted to let you know in case your sensitivity is different than mine. Any brand of chips that works for you should work in this dish.