Gluten-free mac & cheese doesn’t get any better than this.
Joe and I were at Costco (love this place…) and I cut through the cookbook section, as always. There were some Barefoot Contessa books I didn’t yet own and he decided that I needed a new one.
I have so many cookbooks that we really don’t have enough space for them, and he never decides that I need another one. I saw right through him – he loves when I use Barefoot’s recipes. Honestly, I do too. There is a simplicity to her cooking style that yields the most flavorful dishes.
Later that day, he was flipping thorough the book and saw a recipe for Mac & Cheese, which he coyly asked me to make. I am not a Mac & Cheese kind of girl. It’s a little too heavy for me, but if Joe’s happy, I’m happy.
This is no ordinary recipe – it uses Gruyere, extra sharp cheddar cheese, and a little bit of nutmeg which adds so much flavor to the dish. Topped with tomatoes and bread crumbs, you have a grown up version that’s fancy enough to serve on the holidays and simple enough for every day of the week. (I think I’ve said this before about her recipes…it’s so true.) In fact, as Joe was eating his Mac & Cheese, he kept saying, “I can’t believe this is gluten-free” and then started planning Christmas dinner out loud – he wants a whole turkey and this very rich, cheesy pasta dish. That’s it. I think I’m getting off easy this year.
Of course, I had to make a couple of changes to her original recipe to make it gluten-free. My biggest worry was the pasta, because some gluten-free pastas tend to dry out after they’re cooked, others get a little too soft if left in a sauce. Here they are:
- I used quinoa elbows made by Sunridge Farms, which is a quinoa and corn base. It only comes in bulk. This pasta was perfect for mac & cheese – in fact, it was identical in taste and texture to regular pasta.
- I used my gluten-free flour blend instead of white flour. I know we all have one we love, but this mix hasn’t let me down yet. I continue to be impressed at how well is mimics regular flour.
- I used my favorite brown rice bread crumbs by Hol-Field for the topping.
- I cut the recipe in half, which should serve 3 -4. We had enough for dinner that night and leftovers the next day.
This “not really a mac and cheese girl” has been converted. When our remodel kitchen is finished, I’m going to have some good friends over for dinner. This is already on the menu.
What did I learn?
- Good cheese makes an ordinary dish into something special.
- Sophisticated food does not have to be expensive.
- Nutmeg pairs beautifully with a gruyere and sharp cheddar cheese.
Here is my gluten-free version.
This recipe is based on Barefoot's Mac & Cheese.
- Kosher salt
- Light flavored olive oil
- 1/2 pound gluten-free quinoa elbows
- 2 cups of 1% milk
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, divided
- 1/4 cup All-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour Blend
- 6 ounces Gruyere, grated (2 cups)
- 4 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated (1 cups)
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/3 pound fresh tomatoes (2 small)
- 3/4 cup brown rice bread crumbs
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Drizzle oil and add 1 tablespoon salt to a large pot of boiling water. Add the macaroni and cook according to the directions on the package, 5-8 minutes. Drain well and rinse pasta with cold water.
- Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don't boil it. Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a large (4-quart) pot and add the gluten-free flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. While whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or two more, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the Gruyere, Cheddar, 1 tablespoon salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooked macaroni and stir well. Pour into a 1 1/2-quart baking dish.
- Slice the tomatoes and arrange on top. Melt the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter, combine with the bread crumbs, and sprinkle on the top. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.
You can make this dish ahead of time - just add the tomatoes and bread crumbs right before putting it into the oven.
You can find more food inspiration at Lisa’s blog, Blessed with Grace, and her Tempt My Tummy Tuesday Carnival.