Monday, February 24, 2014

‘Macaroni and Cheese’

Things aren't always what they seem, and in gluten free cooking or baking, often times you need to be a bit inventive with your ingredients and use them thoughtfully. What I have found is that often times, after recreating a recipe it ends up more nutritious and just as tasty as the original. You see, it’s easy to make something taste good, the recipe for that is simple, add butter, sugar, and salt. These are the ingredients we crave as humans because they are quick and easy calories. We have evolved to crave these. The trick is to re-make a recipe without these ingredients and have it taste just as good. Yep, it’s possible, and I can’t think of a better recipe to healthi-fy and gluten-free-ize than a good old fashion bowl of homemade Macaroni and Cheese. Oh yes I did.

The really need thing about this recipe is that it not only is healthy and gluten free, but it is also vegan. Ta-da! It’s like magic. You just have to taste this recipe for yourself.
I'm don't usually like outright deceiving people, If you ask I will always let you know what ingredients make up a recipe, but I didn't come right out and say what this all was made of before my family tasted this 'macaroni and cheese'. Let me just say, it looks and smells divine so there isn't much of any convincing to taste going on. It is a "Grown-up" version of macaroni and cheese with more complex flavors than the blue cardboard box version you make while babysitting.
Here is a recipe that I myself, don’t think I will ever mess with. I think it is perfect the way it is, and I would be happy to eat it just the same again. This recipe makes a lot, and it’s really beefed up with all of the vegetables. It makes for a satisfying main dish, and leftovers that you can look forward to!

Yield: 6 servings.

1 box of quinoa pasta
1 head cauliflower, steamed and pureed.
2 cups veggie cheese*
1 carton of mushrooms, any kind you like
½ onion, diced
1-2 leeks, washed and sliced
A handful or two of torn kale or spinach
1 Tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

*I used a variety of Vegan veggie cheese that I bought pre-shredded at the supermarket. I found it in bags that were on display by hanging by organic cold items. If you are not vegan/vegetarian an want to use regular cheese of your choice, by all-means, feel free! Sometimes I have fun making dishes vegan and gluten free, just because of the challenge.

In a large saucepan, bring water to a boil, adding a pinch of salt to the water. Once boiling, add quinoa pasta noodles until al dente. Watch the noodles closely, if you have ever cooked with G-free noodles before, you know how quickly these cook. Follow the cooking time provided on the packet. Strain the noodles out and set aside, being sure to save some of the past water to use later in the recipe.
Cut the whole head of cauliflower into florets and steam them. Once cooled a bit, puree in a blender. Depending on the size of your blender you may have to puree the florets in batches. If you needed, add some pasta water to help puree. Store the puree in a large bowl until later.
Mix the ‘cheese’ into the cauliflower puree.
Heat a large skillet with the olive oil. Add the onions and leeks. Allow these to cook a few minutes before adding the mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper and allow these to cook down until the onions are slightly caramelized and golden. Once cooked, add the cooked noodles and kale or spinach. When the greens are cooked down, stir in the cheese and cauliflower puree until combined and thoroughly warmed.
Taste and Season with more salt and pepper if needed.
Serve in the skillet or you can transfer to a large serving bowl.

Have you made macaroni and cheese from scratch? What is your favorite pasta to use? I liked these little shells, mostly because all of the melted cheese and mushrooms fill them and you get plenty of flavor in every bite!



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