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Vegan Mac and Cheese with Crispy Kale - Emma Hatcher

By Emma Hatcher.

Creamy, cosy and comforting. You can’t really taste the mustard or smoked paprika, but they add depth of flavour, a bit of umami and a little golden colour too.

Swapping a baked breadcrumb crust for green, crispy kale means this macaroni cheese recipe can be on the table in 20 minutes tops.

Serves 4

For the crispy kale:
2 tablespoons olive oil
150g kale
1 teaspoon flaky salt

For the macaroni cheese:
80g dairy free spread
1 tablespoon garlic infused olive oil
3 tablespoons gluten free plain flour
600ml oat or almond milk
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon dairy free creme fraiche
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
100g dairy free grated mature cheddar cheese
1 1/2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
350g gluten free macaroni pasta


Preheat the oven to 200ºC, 180ºC fan, gas mark 6. Tear the kale leaves from their stems, rip into small pieces and place on a large baking tray. Drizzle over the olive oil and bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes, or until crisp and just golden at the edges. Sprinkle with the salt and set to one side.

To a medium-large saucepan, add the spread and oil and place over a medium heat. Once the butter has melted, whisk in the flour and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring constantly. It will take a little longer to emulsify than if you were using dairy butter, but keep whisking and it will get there.

Take the pan off the heat and gradually add the milk, stirring until smooth. Return to the heat, add a good pinch of salt and pepper and slowly bring to the boil, whisking all of the time, until thickened.

Meanwhile, bring a large pan of salted water to the boil for the pasta.

To the white sauce, add the creme fraiche, mustard, cheddar cheese, nutritional yeast and smoked paprika and cook for another couple of minutes until the cheese has melted and everything is combined.

Cook the macaroni until just al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving a ⅓ of a mug of the cooking water, then tip the pasta back into the pan. Pour the cheese sauce all over, stirring to combine and add a little pasta water to help loosen the sauce and turn it glossy.

Add a few handfuls of the crispy kale and stir again, then divide the macaroni cheese between four bowls, top with the rest of the crispy kale and serve.