How to make Lucy Watson's mushroomy mac and cheese

Mushroomy mac and cheese
Mushroomy mac and cheese

So how do you eat macaroni cheese if you're vegan?

"Anyone who knows me will know about my mac and cheese obsession. I struggle to understand why you wouldn't like mac and cheese," explains Lucy Watson. "Whenever I tried to switch to veganism previously, this was the dish that would make me relapse. I just couldn't resist it.

"So I HAD to find a good recipe for mac and cheese - one that would actually taste similar to the original," adds the former Made In Chelsea star, explaining how this recipe ended up in her new book, Feed Me Vegan.

"Many of the recipes I tried use cashews, but I never felt they were successful at recreating the flavours and textures. Thankfully, this one is spot-on and the mushrooms add an extra texture and flavour that take it to the next level."

Ingredients:

(Serves 6)

500g dried macaroni

40g dried wild mushrooms

2tbsp vegan butter

250g chestnut mushrooms

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1tbsp thyme leaves

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the bechamel sauce:

50g vegan butter

3tbsp plain flour

800ml almond milk

1/4tsp grated nutmeg

4tbsp nutritional yeast

200g vegan Cheddar cheese, grated

50g vegan Parmesan cheese, finely grated

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the topping:

40g vegan Parmesan cheese, grated

2tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 220°C (200°C fan, gas 7). Cook the macaroni in boiling, salted water according to the packet instructions, until al dente. Drain in a colander and refresh under cold water until cooled.

2. Put the dried mushrooms in a small heatproof bowl. Pour 150ml boiling water over them and leave to rehydrate for 15 minutes. Drain the mushrooms, reserving the liquid for the bechamel sauce. Roughly chop the mushrooms.

3. Melt the butter in a non-stick frying pan over a high heat. When hot, add the wild mushrooms, chestnut mushrooms, garlic and thyme. Cook for five to eight minutes until the mushrooms have browned well. Season with salt and pepper, and remove from the heat.

4. To make the bechamel sauce, put a large saucepan over a medium heat, then add the butter and stir until melted. Add the flour and cook for one minute, stirring constantly. Whisk in the milk, and continue to whisk until the sauce thickens, then lower the heat and add the remaining ingredients. Stir until the cheese has completely melted.

5. Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper. Add the mushrooms and macaroni to the saucepan with the sauce and stir well until everything is evenly coated. Transfer to a deep 25 x 30cm ovenproof dish.

6. Mix the topping ingredients together and sprinkle over the macaroni. Cook in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until the topping is golden brown and crunchy.

Feed Me Vegan by Lucy Watson, photography Mike English, is published by Sphere, priced £16.99. Available now.