When was the last time you made Mac & Cheese? No, I don’t mean the one with powdered cheese from that horrid blue box. Gah! When did you last make pasta with a cheesy mornay sauce and bake it in the oven? Wow… that long? Sheesh! It’s certainly time for another one!
You may be wondering why I’ve called this dish “Mac & Cheese 2.0″… well, this one is an updated spin on the old classic. You’ll still be getting the rich 4-cheese comfort food, but because I’m using gluten free pasta and amaranth powder, you’ll be able to switch this recipe from a bacon and crumb topped dish to one that is completely gluten-free and/or vegetarian. Just follow the instructions in RED.
And you won’t get that overstuffed feeling that’s normally associated with regular wheat pasta.
Mac & Cheese 2.0
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- 4 tablespoons amaranth flour
- 2-1/3 cups milk
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 2-1/3 cup cheddar cheese (freshly grated)
- 2 cups Jarlsburg (freshly grated)
- 1 cup parmesan (freshly grated)
- 3 Tablespoons mascarpone
- 16 ounces gluten free pasta (I used 12 oz. macaroni & 4 oz. shells)
These following items are optional:
- 2 Tablespoons butter
- 1 Trader Joe’s “Pretzel Bread”
- 1 package nitrate-free Applewood smoked thick cut bacon
Preheat oven to 350°
Put 2 tablespoons of butter in a 3-quart glass baking dish. Set aside.
Shred cheddar, Jarlsburg, and parmesan. Set aside.
(Optional: refrain from this step if making a vegetarian dish):Cut fat off of bacon, and cut remaining meat into small bite-sized pieces. Set aside.
Bring a large pot of water to boiling on high heat. Add pasta and cook till just al dente. Strain through colander and rinse with water. Set aside.
Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Using a whisk, mix in amaranth flour and cook for 2 minutes, whisking constantly. Add milk and turn heat to medium. Keep whisking until sauce is thick. (It takes a couple of minutes).
Turn off heat. Add seasonings and four cheeses. Stir till all cheese is incorporated. Put the baking dish with butter in the preheated oven and leave it in there a minute or two, till the butter is melted. Take out with oven mitts and carefully tip the dish back and forth until it is coated with butter on the bottom, and 2/3 up the sides.
Spoon half of the pasta into the baking dish and cover with half of the cheese sauce. Repeat. Bake 30 minutes till top is golden.
While mac and cheese is baking, cook bacon in large frying pan over med-low heat; set aside.
(Optional: this will add gluten) Meanwhile, heat remaining 2 Tbsp of butter in a small pot over low heat. Using a food processor, grind the pretzel bread into fine crumbs. Add crumbs to butter and turn off heat. Mix together well. Put crumb topping over mac and cheese as soon as it comes out of the oven, and put it right back in for about 5-9 minutes, till it looks toasty.
Remove from oven and let sit on counter for 5 minutes. To serve, scoop one half portion into a bowl, top with bacon, scoop a second half portion and place on top, and finish with more bacon. Enjoy!
This is such a simple dish to prepare and the leftovers are delicious =0)