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Gluten-Free and Less-Guilty Mac N’ Cheese (RECIPE)

by Elana Horwich

February 1, 2013 | 8:00 am

While preparing for a “food that will impress your man” cooking class, I polled men on facebook. “What food would you most love a woman to cook for you that would inspire you to want to give back to her?” I asked with genuine curiosity. You got it. Macaroni and Cheese. Who knew?

This must be why I am still single.  I would have said steak. Right? But that was not even in the list of responses. Second in line was enchiladas. Another shocker that confirmed my bachelorette-hood.

I clearly did not learn from my slender, grilled-fish-eating dad that creamy comfort food seems tp soften the stress of manhood.  And no wonder so many married women I know have the same complaint: “I wish I could get my husband to lose weight, but he just won’t stop eating junk.”

(Of course many husbands would like to see their wives slim down also,  but no man would risk verbal castration by saying such a thing publicly.)

Let’s face it. If you are reading this recipe, chances are you already feed - your kids, husband, self - Mac n’ Cheese from a box which involves powdered orange cheese. ( Powdered orange cheese? I mean, please, don’t even get me started. It's not even cheese!)

Or if you don’t fall in the boxed Mac N’ Cheese category, perhaps - you, your kids, your husband - are ordering gourmet Mac N’ Cheese at restaurants to satiate a deep creamy, carb-y urge which is not being fulfilled at home. Honestly, your kids can get away with it, but chances are you and your hubby cannot.

This macaroni and cheese exemplifies the real food of dudes and is dedicated to all the women who want an un-tubby hubby and to be hot-mama matrons themselves. This less-guilty recipe was invented based on the following simple criteria.

  1. It must be easy to make. I’m lazy and chances are, so are you.

  2. Quinoa pasta would replace white-flour pasta to make a yummy gluten-free meal. Quinoa pasta is white and has a neutral taste so you can fool whoever you want, including your kids.

  3. No cream. Empty calories.

  4. No breadcrumbs on top. Empty unneeded calories and also prevents a gluten free recipe.

  5. There would be no besciamel sauce used.

  6. Besciamel is a pain in the ass to make. The women I teach to cook do not want to measure flour on a typical Tuesday night. I avoid flour at all costs, primarily because it means an inadvertent mess I won’t want to clean up. Creaminess is added instead with the addition of mascarpone.
  7. Without this butter, flour and milk concoction, this mac and cheese is gluten-free, less rich and has less empty calories.
  8. It must be elegant enough for sophisticated adults but still a favorite of children. If your child asks why this mac n’ cheese is not orange, start telling them the truth now: Milk Is Not Orange, So REAL Cheese Cannot Be Orange!!!

  9. Must be elegant enough for sophisticated adults, but un-sophisticated enough for a football party.  Dude Food.

     

Ingredients:

4 people

To read health benefits of ingredients, what I call Vigor Triggers, click on them.

  • a half pound of quinoa elbow pasta
  • 2 cups grated White Sharp Cheddar Cheese
  • 1 ounce of freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • ½ cup Gruyere grated (for children, add more cheddar cheese)
  • 4 oz Mascarpone
  • hefty groundings of the pepper mill
  • ¼ nutmeg nugget, freshly grated
  • Set a pot of water to boil.

  • Preheat oven to 350 F

  • Grate or chop cheddar cheese in the food processor.

  • When water is boiling, throw in a handful of kosher salt. This is the Italian way.

  • Cook pasta until 2 minutes before al dente, still quite a bit chewy.

  • Reserve a cup or so of cooking water ( I just dip in a mug and get some out). Drain pasta.

  • Return pasta to pot and add in the mascarpone, the cheddar and a little of the cooking water, just enough to help melt cheese.

  • Mix until all mostly melted.

  • Add pepper and nutmeg. Taste and adjust if needed.

  • Put in baking dish or in small ramekins. Kids love mini-anything. Use ramekins for them!

  • Top with Parmigiano and Gruyere (or more cheddar). You can refrigerate until ready to bake.

  • Bake in oven for 20 minutes until top is very melted, longer if you had refrigerated it first.

  • Put under broiler for a minute if you want top to be brown.

     
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Elana Horwich is the founder of Meal and a Spiel, a boutique Beverly Hills cooking school and online recipe resource based on the philosophy that anyone can learn to cook. Her...

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