Last Monday was my birthday (happy birthday me!), and Shane wanted to make me something special for dinner. Rather than opt for a big, elaborate meal followed by a sweet, sugary dessert – the thermometer topped 90 degrees that day! hottest birthday ever! – my request was simple: a mac & cheese pizza. I’d been fantasizing about the dish since our Tater Tot and Garbage Plate pizzas back in March. (The thought process going something like this: What other junk food dinners can we serve on a pizza, hmmmm?)
A little googling revealed infinite variations on the mac & cheese pizza theme. None of them vegan, of course, but that’s okay; veganizing mac & cheese is easy peasy now that there are so many vegan cheeses on the market. One version, which I’d still like to try sometime, involves using the mac & cheese as a base, and then layering pizza sauce and toppings on top, casserole style. Yummy, if not very pizza-like. (But throw a crust on bottom and problem solved!)
This recipe is pretty simple and straight forward: make your dough, roll it out, top with your favorite mac & cheese dish – and bake. Voilà! Mac & cheese pizza in its truest form!
The verdict? Delicious and VERY FILLING. Surprisingly, this isn’t my favorite pizza concoction, not by a long shot. Methinks it comes in third, right after the aforementioned Cheesy Vegan Tater Tot Garbage Plate Pizza and Vegan Bacon & Cheddar Double Potato Pizza. Note the common theme: CHEESY and CARB-A-LICIOUS! Veganism = deprivation, says who?
Creamy Vegan Mac & Cheese Pizza!
For the dough:
1 cup warm water (110 degrees F / 45 degrees C)
1 tablespoon sugar
2 1/4 tablespoons active dry yeast
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
For the mac & cheese:
1 cup Follow Your Heart cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup Daiya cheddar cheese, shredded + a little extra to taste
2 cups uncooked macaroni (mini shells are my personal fave!)
4 tablespoons margarine
12 oz plain soy milk
FYI: this is my recipe for Creamy Mac & Cheese with Daiya and Follow Your Heart vegan cheeses, halved; follow the original recipe if you’d like some extra mac & cheese to serve with that mac & cheese pizza – or if you’d just want the mac & cheese, please! For a healthier pizza, sub in a mac & cheese recipe that uses a nutritional yeast sauce.
Cornmeal or cooking spray with which to coat the pizza stone or pizza pan
Olive oil or cooking spray to lightly coat the dough
Several strips of vegan bacon (optional; we used Lightlife Smart Bacon)
Prepare the dough!
1. Stir the water, sugar and yeast together until dissolved. Add the olive oil and salt, as well as any extra spices or seasonings. Stir in the flour until blended. Form the dough into a small ball and let rest in large bowl, covered loosely with a towel, anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours.
Make the cheese sauce!
2. Once the dough is done rising and you’re ready to assemble the pizza, get to work on the cheese sauce. In a medium-sized saucepan, bring the soy milk to a boil.
3. Reduce the heat to medium and mix in the margarine, stirring until melted.
4. Add the cheese shreds, stirring gently until they combine with the liquid to form a creamy cheese sauce. The soupier the better, as the oven baking will thicken it up quite a bit.
Optional: season to taste with salt, pepper, onion or garlic.
5. Reduce the heat to low, stirring every few minutes.
6. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Make the pasta!
7. In a deep skillet or wide, shallow sauce pan, cook the pasta according to the directions provided on the package. Stop when about 90% done and drain, leaving a little hot water with the pasta. (This will mostly cook down as you continue to heat the pasta.)
Combine the two to make mac and cheese!
8. Mix the cheese sauce into pasta, stirring well. On medium low heat, let the pasta continue to cook until it’s the desired consistency. Stir constantly during this last step so that none of the pasta or cheese sticks to the pan.
9. As the pasta is cooking, spread a dusting of cornmeal onto your pizza stone (or lightly coat your pizza pan with cooking spray). Using fingers dipped in olive oil (optional), pat the dough onto the stone, spreading it out evenly. Lightly dust a bit of olive oil on top of the dough, or spray it with a bit of cooking spray.
10. Next, sprinkle a little extra Daiya on the crust to taste. Then add the mac & cheese, spreading it out evenly on the pizza pie. If it’s a bit on the soupy side, allow it to cool for a few minutes before adding it to the pizza; this will give it time to solidify, but not too much! Top with vegan bacon if desired. (Alternately, you can add the bacon first; this will keep it soft and moist vs. crispy and crunchy.)
11. Bake at 425 degrees, for between 15 and 20 minutes for a single pizza, or 30 minutes for two pizzas.
12. Serve warm, perhaps with a side of macaroni and cheese for dipping sauce?
Okay not really. This is my serious face. You do not kid about mac & cheese.