Yummmmmmmmm I LOVE macaroni cheese. Seriously. All time favourite. When Mum would ask me when I was a kid what I wanted for dinner, it was either macaroni cheese or lasagne. I’d still be hard pushed to choose! So I’m going to blog a few of our family favourite recipes over the next week and show you how I make them the gdfree way.
Look out for a scrumptious lasagne, spaghetti with a pile of homemade meatballs smothered in fresh tomato & basil sauce, a homely chicken and leek pie and a creamy mixed fish pie with salmon, cod & prawns.
Up until now when I make macaroni cheese I’ve making a non gdfree version for the kids and a gdfree version for the hubs and I in the evening, but yesterday it occurred to me that I should at least try the gdfree version out on the kids and they devoured it! Broccoli included and that’s impressive for my kids.
So lovely to spend just 20mins or so making one huge family dish and then not to have to worry about extra cooking again later. Meant I could drink more wine!
There’s also a secret ingredient that I have to thank for this dish turning out so well and it’s called…..nutritional yeast. Doesn’t sound very appetising does it! I’ll explain later why it’s such a useful thing to have in your store cupboard when trying to recreate the cheese flavour in a sauce with no cheese.
For this version I used a new brand of gluten free pasta that I bought when I went for lunch at Valentina Fine Foods. It’s a lovely authentic Italian deli that sells all kinds of gorgeous meats, cheese, pastas, cakes, biscuits, oils, wines etc and they have a little restaurant in each one. They have branches in Sheen, Putney, Notting Hill, Chiswick, Tower Bridge, Clapham Junction as well my local Reigate one and a couple of others in the suburbs.
I have reviewed it on my Out and About page so you can read more there but suffice to say I was very impressed, had a lovely lunch, and bought a few gluten free goodies whilst I was there.
As I’ve mentioned before my usual gf pasta brand favourite is Le Veneziane, which they also sell in the shop, but I noticed a new brand called Rummo which I thought I’d try. There were a few different pasta types including spaghetti, linguine, penne, stelline and I chose the rigatoni.
I have to say, it might take the lead in the awards for best gluten free pasta! You would never in a million years think it was gluten free. It didn’t turn the water cloudy when you cooked it, it remained perfectly al dente….it tasted just like normal pasta basically. That’s exactly what you want when you’re trying to replicate normal dishes with gdfree dishes so I was a very happy pasta bunny.
Onto the ‘cheese’ sauce. I make different versions of this sauce every time I make it I think but here’s the basic recipe for it which you can tweak as you see fit. Sometimes I add wholegrain mustard as I like the tang and the little mustard seed flecks running through it. It’s also nice to add a squeeze of lemon juice to give some tartness.
When you look at the ingredient list you’ll notice the nutritional yeast playing a part. So what the heck is it you’re wondering? Well….as you can guess from its name, nutritional yeast is packed with nutrition, particularly B-vitamins, folic acid, selenium, zinc, and protein. It’s low in fat, is gluten-free, and contains no added sugars or preservatives.
Apparently it’s made from a single-celled organism, Saccharomyces Cerevisiae, which is grown on molasses and then harvested, washed, and dried with heat to kill or “deactivate” it. Because it’s inactive, it doesn’t froth or grow like baking yeast does so it has no leavening ability. You can’t substitute it for bakers yeast so don’t try! It comes in a flake form and look like this:
I basically think of it as a flavour punch of the savoury kind. It’s a bit like adding garlic or salt and pepper – it’s a seasoning which adds a sort of cheesy or nutty flavour to your dishes. It can be used generously as I do here to make a ‘cheese’ sauce, or it can be sprinkled on top of scrambled eggs, salads, added to soups and gravies and sauces.
It really helps to enhance the savoury flavour of dishes that don’t have any dairy in them and it’s an invaluable store cupboard ingredient. I order mine online from Amazon.
Macaroni Cheese Sauce
You will need this:
- 1litre of dairy free milk, I use Unsweetened Almond, warmed in a pan
- 80g vegetable butter
- 80g gluten free plain flour
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder/onion powder/turmeric
- 1tsp english mustard (plus 1 tsp wholegrain mustard if you fancy)
- 2tbsp nutritional yeast
You make it like this:
- Put the milk warming in a saucepan
- In another saucepan melt the butter
- Take off the heat and add the flour to the butter until it comes together to form a roux
- On a low heat start to add the milk a spoonful at a time and whisk like crazy between spoonfuls to make sure it doesn’t get lumpy
- Once all the milk is incorporated turn the heat up slightly to medium and keep stirring until it thickens
- Then add the seasonings, mustards and nutritional yeast
- Taste and add salt/pepper/lemon juice as you need
Usually on a non gdfree macaroni cheese I would simply top the pasta and cheese sauce mix with grated cheese and pop under the grill for 10mins to crisp up the cheese topping. So for my gdfree version I used a mixture of breadcrumbs and my no-cheese parmesan (click for recipe) which worked just as well. It gave a lovely salty, crunchy and herby finish to the dish.
Mix together the following:
- 80g gluten free breadcrumbs (I just blitz up any old gf bread that I have lying around and keep in freezer bags for when I need it)
- 1tsp oregano/basil
- good seasoning with salt & black pepper
- 2tbsp of no cheese parmesan (see recipe for this here)
You’ll notice from the pics that I also added some steamed broccoli before mixing through the cheese sauce and topping with the breadcrumbs. You could add any veg at this point and sometimes I add steamed carrot and red peppers or a handful of cooked peas and sweetcorn. Whatever takes your fancy. And you’ve got to take every and any opportunity to get veggies into the kids right?! Hope you enjoy it x