This sun-dried tomato & caramelized onion mac n’ cheeze is a new take on the forever classic: it’s baked, it’s gourmet, it’s decadent. The crispy tartness of the tomato is just so good!
I am not a mac n cheese fan. At all. I would always get Kraft Dinner at friends’ houses and I remember drowning it as much ketchup as possible to cover the fake cheese taste. On top of that, the texture is just off. I grew up despising it and that hasn’t changed. What has changed though is my cooking skill, so I have been able to take this classic dish and make it BETTER!
I really wanted some texture in this dish, and I had the crazy idea to rehydrate sundried tomatoes with liquid smoke and spices and deep fry it! It turned out so good. They were crispy yet chewy and smoky and salty–a great healthier alternative to bacon.
But what about the vegan cheese?
For the cheese, I used 1/2 a batch of my mozzarella spread recipe. I didn’t add any spices, however in the future I think some garlic powder and paprika would be delish. If you want this to look like orange cheddar, add half a teaspoon of turmeric! I also think I’ll use 3/4 of a batch next time as well. The mozzarella spread is great for nachos, garlic bread, pizza, and more!
I baked this in the solar oven for about 1 hour in cloudy conditions. It started raining so I had to bring it in and continue with it plugged into the DC plug near the end. I also ended up cracking the tub at the 1 hour mark and removed the foil to allow it to crisp up even more! I love crispy sides.
See also: GoSun Solar Oven Review
If you’re interested in making some sun-dried tomato & caramalized onion mac n’ cheeze, keep on reading!
Sundried Tomato & Caramalized Onion Mac N’ Cheeze
- 400 g pasta of choice cooked
- ½ batch of my vegan mozzarella spread (link in notes)
- 1 onion thinly sliced
- 5-10 sundried tomatoes not in oil
- ¼ cup boiling water
- 1 tsp liquid smoke
- 1 tsp maple syrup
- ¼ cup flour
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- oil for frying
- Soak the dry sundried tomatoes in the boiling water, liquid smoke, and maple syrup. Set aside for 10 minutes or until rehydrated. In the meantime, caramelize the onion.
- Heat a pan on medium-high heat and add the onion with a splash of water. Keep it on high, tossing occasionally until the onions are browned. If the onions start sticking, just add more water to deglaze the pan. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Prep the flour for the tomatoes: mix flour, garlic powder, and smoked paprika together. Add salt if you wish. At this point, the tomatoes should be rehydrated. Cut them into small pieces, like bacon bits, and toss them in the flour mixture until well-coated.
- Using the same pan you used for the onions, add enough frying oil so that it is 2cm deep. Turn the stove on high. You can tell the oil is hot when you flick water in it and it sizzles. Add the floured tomatoes to the oil, they'll only need to fry for 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the oil and let cool and drain on a paper towel.
- Now to assemble the baked mac n' cheese! Using a deep pan (like a loag pan or casserole dish), add a few spoonfuls of the vegan mozzarella spread, making sure to spread it to each side. Add a layer of cooked pasta and caramalized onions. Keep going until the pan is either full or there are no ingredients left. On the very top, sprinkle the crispy sundried tomato bits. These act as a great meatless, low-fat, low-sodium alternative for bacon.
- If using a solar oven: Bake, covered with foil, for about 1 hour. Feel free to crack the tube, remove the foil, and bake for an additional 30 minutes to let the sides get crispy.
- If using a conventional oven: Preheat to 350°F / 180°C and bake covered with foil for 25-35 minutes, or until sides are slightly crisped. Be sure to remove the foil for the last 5-10 minutes.