A Bite Inspired by… Ratatouille (2007 film):
Ever noticed how two flavors that taste amazing separately can taste even better when combined? Enter, Vegan Thai Curry Mac and Cheese– an unexpected mash-up with incredible results. This dish is creamy, bold, delicious, and 100 percent plant-based! Inspired by the classic Pixar Film “Ratatouille”.
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Who doesn’t love the film “Ratatouille”? A humble, small town rat goes to Paris and achieves his culinary dreams—what’s not to love?? Plus, it’s a Pixar movie, which makes it a winner by default. One of the best parts of the film, in my opinion, is that the main characters Remy (the rat) and Linguini (his human friend) always think outside the box. They never do anything the conventional way. Ever. I mean, the main premise of the film is that Remy helps Linguini become a cook by hiding under his chef’s hat and pulling on his hair to control his movements. If that’s not outside the box, I’m not sure what is. No culinary school for these guys—they have it all under control (mostly).
Since “Ratatouille” came out, I’ve seen countless ratatouille and vichyssoise recipes inspired by the movie. These recipes are fantastic and you should definitely check them out (once you’re done with THIS post, of course)! I, however, wanted to be like Remy and Linguini, and think OUTSIDE the box by creating something unique to my culinary personality. So, instead of just delivering another classic French dish inspired by the movie, I decided to put my own twist on a recipe based on a scene that really stood out to me.
Towards the beginning of the movie, there’s a scene where Remy takes a bite of cheese followed by a bite of strawberry. “Each flavor was totally unique,” he remarks. Then, he decides to eat the strawberry and the cheese TOGETHER. Boom, fireworks! “Combine one flavor with another and something new was created,” he says. This scene is the inspiration for my most recent recipe, Vegan Thai Curry Mac and Cheese. You can watch the clip from the movie right here. I wanted to create a recipe that is based on Remy’s concept of combining two unexpected flavors to create something exciting.
I love Thai curry, and I love mac and cheese. So, I thought, why not take a page out of Remy’s book and see what they taste like together? The result was fireworks. Turns out, Thai Curry and cheese go perfectly together! Who would have thought? Thanks for the inspiration, Remy! I decided to use vegan cheese in this particular recipe, but feel free to use regular, dairy cheese if you’re so inclined. It tastes just as good both ways; I just wanted to experiment with creating a completely vegan version this time.
The saltiness and tanginess of the cheese complements the spices of the red curry perfectly. I used vegan mozzarella and pepper jack cheeses in this recipe. The mozzarella provides a nice, neutral canvas for the flavors of the curry, while the pepper jack adds a bit more heat. I used Daiya cheese, but feel free to use any vegan cheese product you like best. I used canned Thai Kitchen Organic Coconut Milk, Unsweetened in place of regular milk since coconut milk is the base of most Thai curries.
I made the mac and cheese first, and then sautéed finely chopped onions with Thai red curry paste in a separate pan. I added the curried onions into the dish and, voila, Thai Curry Mac and Cheese! Please note, if you want to make sure the dish is completely vegan, be careful in choosing your red curry paste. Some red curry pastes contain shrimp paste, which is not a vegan product. If you want to be safe, try Thai Kitchen Red Curry Paste. It’s delicious and completely vegan (and gluten-free, too!)
You won’t believe the flavors in this dish. It doesn’t taste like Thai food or traditional mac and cheese. It really does taste like “something new was created” as Remy says. This dish is creamy, bold, and absolutely delicious! Don’t take my word for it though. Try it for yourself and post a comment below telling me what you think! If you’ve tried (or are now going to try) any new, unusual flavor combinations yourself, be sure to comment and tell me about those, as well. I would love to hear from you all. Keep cooking and, remember, always think outside the box! Enjoy!
This recipe was featured in The Huffington Post Taste’s “9 Perfect Vegan Mac and Cheese Recipes”. Check out the list here!
P.S. If you loved this dish, be sure to check out my other Thai curry recipe, Thai Curry Chicken Strudel (omit the chicken and replace with extra butternut squash for a vegan version).
P.P.S. Shout out to my dad for helping me with the pictures in this post. That very manly hand holding the spoon in the photo below is his (NOT mine).
- 1 lb elbow macaroni
- ½ yellow onion onion, finely chopped
- 2 cups vegan mozzarella cheese
- 1 cup vegan pepper jack cheese
- ½ cup canned, unsweetened full-fat coconut milk (see note)
- 2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
- 2 teaspoons cooking oil
- Salt and pepper, to taste (I used about a ½ teaspoon salt and a ¼ teaspoon black pepper)
- Chopped fresh chives, for garnish (optional)
- Cook macaroni in boiling, salted water for 3-5 minutes (or according to package directions) until just al dente. Drain thoroughly and return to pot.
- Put macaroni pot on the stove and turn the heat to low. Add coconut milk, pepper jack cheese, and mozzarella cheese to the pot with the macaroni. Stir well until the cheese is thoroughly melted. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Heat oil in a small skillet on medium high heat. Add onions and cook for 5-7 minutes until onions are soft and beginning to brown.
- Add curry paste to the onions and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Remove from heat.
- Add curry paste and onion mixture into the mac and cheese. Stir well. Enjoy!
If you don’t have any dietary restrictions, feel free to use the non-vegan versions of these cheeses to make this dish.
If you want to make sure the dish is completely vegan, be careful in choosing your red curry paste. Some red curry pastes contain shrimp paste, which is not a vegan product. For a product recommendation, see post above.
This dish is nut-free as long as you're careful in choosing your vegan cheese. Some vegan cheeses are made with cashews and almonds, so please read the packaging carefully if you're allergic to nuts.