I couldn't believe how creamy this turned out...and from a box!
If you’ve ever had the misfortune of eating gluten free macaroni and cheese from a box, then first let me say how sorry I am that you’ve had to endure the meal. I too, have had to endure this, but I happened upon a wonderful discovery a couple of days ago, quite by accident and totally out of necessity. (Why is it that so many wonderful things happen that way anyhow?)
I live on a boat and currently we are about to head out through the Carribean and down to the Panama Canal. Since we just spent heaps of money on food to provision the boat, I cook solely off the boat. Mac and Cheese is an easy lunch right? I mean it should take under ten minutes and fill your belly up decently. That’s part of why we picked it for a lunch a couple of times a week. While everyone else eats the top name brands, I get to have the GF brand. It’s the most common one I know of, the name brand I will not say, but she was an orphan in a movie.
If one follows the directions, this meal is watery and tasteless, not at all what I wanted to bring with me, but I had few other choices. Just as I was emotionally preparing to cook the stuff, I decided to try making it like skillet pasta. Much to my delight, it turned out fabulously! Tasted side by side and said with the famous brand they were almost indistinguishable. I was so excited! This is just such an awesome discovery, I wish the little orphan mac and cheese would change the directions.
Of course I did not write down exactly what I did as I did it, but here’s what I am pretty sure took place:
1. I boiled 2c. of water and poured in the noodles. I let them cook until the water was starchy and they were al dente. Do not drain. You need some of that starchy water to make the sauce.
2. I added probably 1/4c or more of powdered milk along with the cheese packet and butter. I added some fresh ground pepper too.
3. Mix and enjoy!
When I saw Rick Bayless and his daughter make this on his PBS show, I wasn’t sure how I felt about it, but I kept thinking about it and when I eventually made it I was glad I did. It is tasty stuff, I made it for a party last year, and it went in seconds flat, a real crowd pleaser.
2 tablespoons butter
¼ cup all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
1 ½ to 2 cups roasted tomato salsa (or your favorite salsa)
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 pound dried pasta (fusilli is ideal)
In a large pot bring 4 quarts of water to a boil.
In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat, then stir in the flour and whisk until the mixture turns a deep golden, about 2 minutes. Add the milk and continue to whisk constantly until the mixture thickens and comes to a full boil, about 5 minutes. Stir in the salsa, remove from the heat, then stir in cheese. Continue stirring until all the cheese has melted. Taste and season generously with salt, usually 1 ½ teaspoons. Cover to keep warm until the pasta is done.
When the water comes to a boil, add the dried pasta. Stir well to keep the pasta from sticking together and boil until the pasta is al dente, about 10 minutes (see package instructions). Drain thoroughly and add the pasta to the sauce. Stir until the pasta is covered in the salsa cheese sauce.
I found this beautiful broccoli rabe at the Berkeley Farmer’s Market yesterday. I can find almost everything I need there and it’s almost all organic and pasture raised. There are delightfully different products there, like banana leaves and I even found Union-picked broccoli and strawberries yesterday. Amazing!
While I was washing it, I wondered if we could eat the stems, you know, like broccoli. In walked the neighbor so I asked him the question. He replied, “dunno,” took some over to his place and started messing with it. What came back was this…
My daughter eating raw broccoli rabe like a banana (sorry about the cat hindquarters and tail, she never moves from that location except to eat)
What my neighbor found was a tough exterior, similar to the very end of the asparagus and broccoli stems, that revealed a softer, totally edible interior. So I peeled and added the stems to the dish as well. It was a very simple dish and quick too. Only olive oil, salt, pepper, two cloves of garlic, the broccoli rabe, a little Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and a few slices of sausages on the side.
Gluten free penne with broccoli rabe
While we were eating dinner, my son asked, “Which is more healthier, broccoli or red bell peppers?” He has been interested in nutritional facts lately, for whatever reason. So we looked it up in Laurel’s Kitchen. We were amazed to learn that 1c of broccoli has 324 mg of potassium and 3880 iu of vitamin A. One red bell pepper, by contrast, has 148 mg of potassium and 3295 iu of vitamin A! Healthy indeed.