This is the Finnish equivalent of mac and cheese: a food that every child loves, and most adults too. So naturally we made this for my 4-year-old niece who was coming over today. While makaronilaatikko was in the oven, we made jewelery and played “hide the piglet” with the little niece. She hasn’t been very interested in eating anything lately, so it was a double victory for us to see her finish a big plate of this vegan casserole!
For a veganized version, we use textured soy protein granules instead of the traditional minced meat. Another protein source could of course be substituted, but this looks most like the real thing, an important factor when feeding a picky little meat-eater. A locally produced alternative for us would have been to use crushed fava beans (härkäpapurouhe) from our neighborhood’s organic store, but we played it safe to please the kid in the table.
Traditionally, this casserole is bound together by a sauce made of eggs and milk, which we substitute with tofu and oat milk. Sometimes you see grated carrots in the veggie version, but I like to keep this simple. This recipe makes a lot, probaby enough for 9, so we froze the leftovers.
What we used:
- 2 onions, cubed
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 dl textured soy protein granules soaked in 4 dl water
- 10 dl or 500 g macaroni
In the Sauce:
- 1 cube vegetable stock
- 1 dl boiling water
- 1 liter plain oat milk (or soy milk)
- 300 g firm silken tofu (we had Mori-Nu)
- 1 tablespoon raw cane sugar
- 3 tablespoons corn starch
- pinch of salt
- black pepper and salt to taste
- 4 cloves garlic, minced or sliced
- 1 teaspoon liquid smoke (optional)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
- 1/2 dl bread crumbs OR
- 5 cream crackers, crushed
First, Heikki cooked the macaroni according to the instructions on the bag, but leaving it a little bit al dente. Then he drained and rinsed the macaroni with cold water in a colander to prevent sticking.
Then, I fried the cubed onions in olive oil until they were translucent and slightly browned. The soy granules had absorbed all the liquid. I added them in the pan with all the seasonings and fried this for a while.
Then Heikki prepared the sauce. First, he mixed the stock cube with boiling water and stirred this until the cube was dissolved. Then he added all the other ingredients in the sauce – milk, tofu, salt, and sugar – and mashed this with a hand held mixer until completely smooth.
Now, Heikki poured the cooked macaroni and the soy granule mixture in a rectangular cooking pan, mixed them thoroughly, and poured the tofu sauce on top of this. Then I sprinkled the crushed cream crackers on top of the casserole.
We baked the casserole in the oven for 50 minutes in 200 degrees Celsius, until it was browned on top, and the tofu sauce had thickened nicely. For the last 5 minutes, I placed the pan in the upper part of the oven to brown it a little bit more.
The casserole was served with ketchup, obviously, and the adult eaters sprinkled their plates with 4 tablespoons fresh parsley mixed with one clove crushed garlic.