Confession time. I know that dairy is not good for you. I know humans weren’t “meant to eat” dairy products. I know dairy can cause inflammation, congestion, allergies etc. But here’s the thing.
I. Don’t Care.
Ok I DO care, but I can NOT stop myself from eating cheese. I am Italian and I am allergic to Red Wine, Gluten, and I don’t eat lamb or veal (baby animal issues). All things that drove my late grandmother absolutely NUTS. So if I lose the cheese then I am basically not an Italian! Except I do have the talking with my hands, highly excitable, vicious temper thing going on for me.
You can’t take away my cheese, so if you are an “Anti-dairy” person, that’s totally fine but you may want to exit now because this post is about cheese and a lot of it! That said I do realize that it is another food group I have to try to not overdo for the little ones. Which is going to be interesting as they have inherited la familia’s amore of the formaggio.
This is a recipe that is obviously taken from regular old Mac and Cheese. A dish that can be varied in one hundred and one different ways. Trust me, I have done the research. It is also dedicated to my sister. No not Mama Sis, my OTHER sister who lives up north so she is Jersey Sis. She and I have a shared obsession with mac and cheese and apparently the little bun she has cooking in her oven is increasing her craving for it. She and her husband are not “official” Gluten Free, but it seems they have been adopting more and more of it into their eating life as well….I am such a trend setter!
So Kat this one’s for you!
No Macaroni Mac & Cheese
Gluten free pasta is fine, although admittedly it is not a piece of cake to find really good almost-like-real-pasta and almost impossible to find all the various shapes and sizes of pasta. But one day I had a lot of cauliflower on hand and was thinking of ways to make it kid yummy. As you know Littledude has done a 180 and now won’t eat green veggies, a phase I truly hope is a passing one.
So I had Cauliflower, a bunch of Organic Girl I ❤ Baby Kale – yes again – and for some reason several bags of Kraft shredded cheese ~I am pretty sure I had a coupon for it~ so I thought “I wonder if the cauliflower will stand up to the dish like pasta.” So I grabbed the iPad and cruised Pinterest for ideas. I got a ton of ideas for cauliflower dishes, but I still kept thinking “mac & cheese, mac & cheese” so I went for it.
The thing is this is exactly like making regular mac & cheese, just no mac. Pre-heat the over to 350° (see I remembered to tell you this time) and grab your ingredients:
Cheese (your choice)
Mustard Powder (Optional but totally worth it)
S & P
I am trying out a box of King Arthur’s Gluten Free Multi-Purpose Flour and of course grabbed my Colman’s Mustard Powder. This is a MUST have staple in the pantry IMHO (in my humble opinion…get with the abbreviations so I don’t have to type it out all the time will ya?) and I always use it in my cheese sauce (except when I forget). I steamed the cauliflower and chopped it up into bite sized pieces. (Tip: Don’t over cook the cauliflower, it will keep cooking in the oven and turn to mush. Make it “al dente” still firm. )
Admission: I used the “steam in a bag” cauliflower that were 2 for $5 at Publix. You have to pick and choose your organic battles where budget allows and it was a tight week.
Then I mixed in a bunch of baby Kale. Not too much as the main goal was to hide it so Littledude would unknowingly eat it, deception is the name of the game, and in future versions of this I have added much more but that’s another post. Of course this part is optional, but it did lend a different flavor profile to the dish.
Now comes the cheese sauce, which I don’t have any photos of this time. I will try for next time I make it. Melt about 2 to 3 tbsp of butter in a saucepan. Add about 2 tbsp of GF flour and whisk to make a basic Roux. KEEP WHISKING! Then add Milk, I forgot exactly how much was for this small dish I think only about 1/2 cup. Keep stirring while you add the cheese. I stop with the whisk at this point and move to a silicone spatula. I then add a handful at a time and let it melt before I add the next, and if it gets to thick, where it’s like a solid glob of melted cheese instead of a nice thick cream sauce, add a little more milk until you get to a nice cheese sauce constancy. Don’t freak if you can’t get it, I have messed it up a few times myself.
~ note on cheese choices…you can use any combination you like, this recipe I went for standard sharp and mild cheddar combo but future versions of this have included much more exciting cheese like gouda, fontina, havarti etc…tune back in ~
Now add 1 tsp of salt and 1 tsp of Coleman’s Dry Mustard, more if you like a sharper tang that your cheese isn’t delivering. When all the cheese is in and the sauce is the right thickness, pour that cheesy goodness all over the dish and mix it so it is all covered.
Gluten Free breadcrumb topping is optional, but if you do want to add it, melt another tablespoon of butter in a pan and cook the breadcrumbs until they are golden brown and toasty. Coat the top. Pop it in a 350° oven uncovered to cook until it is bubbly. Generally about 30 – 45 minutes depending on the size of the try you make. It should look a little like this (bad photo quality sorry)
To say this was a hit is an understatement! Even the Kale gotten eaten – for the most part – and even though they were eating all that cheese, at least I was getting an exorbitant amount of cauliflower and kale in them! Plus I personally feel it’s a “Mac & Cheese” with a lower guilt factor, lower calories factor and of course zero carb factor!
Try it out and let me know what you think! Cheese to the Mac…