© 2013 Kebba Buckley Button. World Rights Reserved.
For many years, I have lusted for a satisfying macaroni and cheese recipe that somehow contained no wheat. One of my earliest mac ‘n’ cheese memories was a quickie version from a box. Slender elbow macaroni cooked quickly, and then you added a packet of powder that yielded a thin but succulent sauce, redolent of the familiar taste of classic Velveeta. Utterly delicious.
But by college days, I had realized I felt much better without wheat. In recent years, gluten has been identified as something many do not tolerate. So now we have a wide variety of pasta and other foods that contain no wheat or gluten, yet are delicious and easy to work with. Many of the new gluten free, or GF, foods, can be directly substituted in standard recipes, with delicious results for the GF eaters and for everyone else.
Recently, I was transfixed by a modern-looking recipe for mac ‘n’ cheese in a major home arts magazine. Alas, when I tried it, it turned out to be incredibly complex and time-consuming. It specified a type of elbow pasta I had never heard of before, and it claimed the recipe fitted in a 2-quart baking dish; it turned out to be 4 quarts of recipe. It also specified grated fontina cheese, which is impossible, since fontina is too soft to even slice with ease. I concluded the recipe was not kitchen-tested. Bummer!
So here’s what I came up with, for much less work and lots of flavor. It’s very filling and makes a great vegetarian main dish. And remember—it’s gluten-free!
- Spray 2 8 x 8 x 2” Pyrex-type baking dishes with favorite nonstick spray. Preheat oven or larger toaster oven to 350 degrees.
- Prepare an 8 oz. package of Trader Joe’s organic rice penne pasta according to directions, using 1 ½ tsp sea salt and 15 twists fresh ground pepper. If you can’t get Trader Joe’s brand, use another, such as Tinkyada.
- In a 5-quart wok, stir-fry ½ c chopped onions or sliced green onions with 2-3 Tbsp olive oil and 3 c cubed butternut squash (buy it already cubed, possibly frozen), and cook until tender. [If you love mushrooms, sauté 8 oz of them in before adding the squash.] Sprinkle 2 Tbsp brown rice flour or Pamela’s GF Pancake and Baking Mix over the squash. Now add a cup of milk and stir well. Cook until it thickens. You may like another ½ to 1 tsp of sea salt added to the liquid now.
- Drain the penne pasta when tender, toss into the squash mixture, and add 8 oz shredded cheddar cheese or half swiss and half cheddar.
- Divide this into the two baking dishes. Garnish with extra grated cheese, paprika, sliced green onion, and possibly chopped kalamata olives.
- Bake one or both of the dishes for about 20-25 minutes, until it bubbles. You can also microwave it until it bubbles, which may be about 5 minutes. Makes 8 large servings.
- NOTE: If you are only serving 2 people, or using it as a side dish, put plastic wrap over the second baking dish, refrigerate it, and simply heat it the next day. Delicious for breakfast.
Now you can enjoy mac ‘n’ cheese, eat well, and still feel good! If you love this recipe, tell me what other GF recipes you would enjoy. I have a limitless collection.
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