Tasty and mostly simple food for the whole family.

Tasty, healthy, simple, verstile, practical, seasonal, fun food for all to enjoy. I will endeavour to make things gluten-free, dairy-free (cow's milk only here, I'm not super-human), and low sugar as able. I hope others feel motivated to add their recipes to this collection so we can all try them. Thank you!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Mac & Cheese (Gluten-free/Adaptable)

Seen here with a delightful side of Shetland Cabbage

Seriously, what is not to love about Mac & Cheese?  Forget about dairy-free here.  Just enjoy the gooey love.  Of course, I am always looking to find ways to make everything healthier and full of more redeamable qualitites, so this has lots of hidden goodies in it.  My original inspiration for adding bits and dollops of health-boosting goodness to the family's food came after taking Mia to the Naturopath about a year ago.  After a year and a half of what was certainly more than her share of colds, temperatures and coughs, we just wanted a different take on how to boost her immue system.  That is when I started making spinach pesto (a recipe to come...) and adding it to basically everything we ate.  Then I read Jessica Seinfeld's Deceptively Delicious and pretty much just started adding various diced, minced, pureed or mashed bits of veggies and other goods into everything I make.  Now, if you come eat at our house, you just might find sunchokes, squash, zucchini, carrot or spinach in your cocktail if you aren't careful, but you will certainly find it in your food!  Besides adding great vitamins and minerals to otherwise lacking meals, it is a great way to use food that might otherwise not be enough to save for a lunch or other leftover and I am a big fan of reducing waste.

Which brings me to the Mac & Cheese for tonight's recipe.  I added roasted and mashed sunchoke (formery called jeruselum artichoke) and delicata squash to it, but you certainly could add whatever you want.  I also have added minced chicken (Mia isn't a fan of protein these days) and obviously ham is a wonderful addition.  This batch also has peas, which are a personal favorite of the Peanut.  Clearly, this would be best served with the Raw Tuscan Kale Salad, but what wouldn't be?

  • 1lb dried pasta (I used Trader Joe's Gluten-free Brown Rice noodles shown below, but penne, elbows, fusili or whatever you have on hand will be great!)
  • 2Tbs unsalted butter
  • 4Tbs all-purpose flour (I used Tom Sawyer's Gluten-free flour)
  • 1/4tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8-1/4tsp paprika
  • 1/2-1c vegetable puree of your choice (I used squash and sunchoke tonight)
  • 2c milk (even better to use a 12oz can of evaporated milk and 3/4c milk if you have it, it will make it unbelieveably creamy)
  • 2-1/2c shredded cheese ( I like to use a mix of Cheddar, Jack, Pecorino or Parmasean and a few tablespoons of Goat Chevre or Cream cheese.  To add a real flavor treat, put 1/4c of blue cheese)
  • 1c peas (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350
2. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook noodles to 'al dente'.
3. While pasta is cooking, bring large saucepan to medium heat and add the butter and flour, stirring constantly untl it makes a thick paste (a 'roux') - about 1-2 minutes.
4. Add the milk and cook stirring frequently until it begins to thicken, about 3-5 minutes, then add the spices.
5. Take off of the heat and add in the puree (if using it) and the cheeses a handful at a time.  Stir or whisk continuously until smooth.
6. Add in the noodles and any other peas, ham or whatnot that you may be incorporating.
7. Pour mixture into a baking dish and cover with breadcrumbs or crumbled crackers and bake 25-30  minutes, until bubbly and golden brown.*/**

* If you are hungry and/or in a hurry, you could just skip the last step and go pot-to-plate.  You would miss the yummy crunchy topping though, and we all know that is the best part.

** This is also a great dish to split and cook half and freeze half at this step (or make a double batch).  When you are ready, take from freezer the night before and thaw in the refridgerator, then bring to temperature on the counter for 1hr prior to cooking.  You may still need to adjust cooking times based on the starting temp of the foods, but it holds really well for up to 2 months.  This also makes a great gift for those friends of yours that have a new baby at home and can use some meal help! 


Fawn said...

A note for anyone who uses gluten-free pasta, especially if it is all rice bases... It dries out considerably in the fridge, so when reheating it (stove top or microwave), add a little water or stock to it and it will rehydrate nicely!

AmyK said...

I'm making this!