16oz package of elbow macaroni or pasta of choice
3 cups shredded Daiya Cheddar Cheese
3 tablespoons vegan butter (I used soy-free Earth Balance)
3 tablespoons flour
2 to 2 1/2 cups* unsweetened soy milk
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Enough panko bread crumbs to liberally cover (I used an “Italian” flavored variety)
Red chili flakes to taste (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cook pasta about 5 minutes until it’s just tender. Don’t cook all the way or it will fall apart when you bake it.
3. Drain pasta and transfer to greased baking dish. I packed it all into a smaller 8×10 dish so it would set up nice and thick.
4. Mix in about 2/3′s of the cheese into the pasta and set aside.
5. In a small pot melt the butter. Add the pepper, then whisk in the flour until combined. Stir in the milk. Keep stirring until it starts to boil, then keep stirring for about another minute until it thickens up. *(Start with 2 cups of milk but if sauce gets too thick just add a little bit more, you don’t want it to be like a paste, just a thickened liquid).
6. Pour the milk mixture into the pasta and mix everything well. Top with the remaining cheese. Sprinkle the bits of ham on top, then cover everything with a generous layer of breadcrumbs. Give the whole thing a light dusting of paprika.
7. Pop in the oven for 30 minutes or until the cheese is bubbling and top is starting to brown. If you like it spicy sprinkle some of the chili flakes on top when serving.