I have a history with macaroni and cheese. As a child it wasn't something I had often, but that made it all the more special when it made a surprise appearance on the dinner table. At friends' houses I was always envious of their shelves stacked high with blue boxes, allowing them a quick solution to any mac and cheese cravings that may arise. I would look forward to family functions because they guaranteed a large casserole of my aunts baked mac and cheese, which was a highlight for everyone.
I could never pinpoint the allure of such a simple dish, that is until I could no longer have it. The saying "you don't know what you have until it's gone" had never rang more true. Eight years ago, my life changed dramatically when my doctor diagnosed me with a severe gluten intolerance. I was in the middle of high school, feeling completely lost and most days very ill. My routine, which often included a bagel for breakfast and a sandwich or wrap for lunch, and dinner with an accompanying roll, was flipped completely upside down. I had a part time job at a noodle bar where my work meal was macaroni and cheese with broccoli and pesto. In typical teenage fashion, I fought with my doctor upon the diagnoses, in denial that this could be the answer to my problem. As my symptoms worsened, without much say, I slowly warmed to the idea of never eating gluten again.
After almost a year of struggling, I finally gave in and changed my diet completely. Within two weeks, the change was undeniable. I had color back in my face, would wake up without feeling nauseous, and had quickly regained my quality of life.
SARAH GREEN/Sun-Gazette Correspondent
Shown is a lemongrass shrimp with broccoli dish. Green considers this a quick and healthy recipe that can be eaten as is or served over brown rice or rice noodles.
Everything I thought I would never give up, I was suddenly OK parting with because nothing was worth the sickness I endured when I ate gluten. That was everything but mac and cheese.
Eight years ago the gluten-free substitutes were sub par at best and would rarely hold up after being cooked. I struggled to find a boxed substitute that satisfied my craving, and could never find any recipes that worked when made gluten free.
Fed up and craving my ultimate comfort food, I began tinkering with recipes and making one that satisfied my need. Thankfully, the gluten-free products on the market have come a long way in the last eight years, making gluten-free cooking virtually the same as regular cooking. If you love macaroni and cheese as much as I do, try this unique recipe. I promise that even those who can eat gluten will never know the difference and they will keep asking for more!
Curried macaroni and
cheese with cauliflower
Yields: 6 servings
1 pound gluten free rotini pasta
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
4 cups cauliflower florets, roasted
2 tablespoons kosher salt, divided
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 tablespoons gluten free all-purpose flour blend
3 cups of 2 percent milk
2 teaspoons mustard powder
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup soft goat cheese
1 3/4 cup shredded sharp white cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Pre-heat your oven to 400 F. Cover a cookie sheet with foil and set aside for later. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook your gluten free pasta for 9 to 10 minutes or until al dente. Drain the pasta and toss under cool water. Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and toss to coat, then set aside.
Divide the cauliflower florets evenly over the cookie sheet and drizzle with the remaining olive oil, salt and pepper. Gently toss to coat. Roast the cauliflower for 20 minutes or until soft but still with a bit of crunch. Set aside until later.
To begin making the cheese sauce, melt the butter in a large sauce pot. Once melted, whisk in the gluten-free flour until combined. Continue stirring for 6 to 7 minutes or until the mixture darkens a bit. This is called a "roux."
Once the roux is made, slowly whisk in the milk making sure to get rid of any clumps there may be. Once the milk mixture is smooth, season the sauce with the mustard and curry powder.
Over medium low heat, whisk in the three cheeses until fully melted. Season with salt and pepper as needed.
Keeping the sauce over medium low heat, fold in the cooked pasta and roasted cauliflower. Toss to completely combine and enjoy!
Green was first diagnosed with gluten intolerances as a teenager. Soon after, she developed a blog to share her struggles and successes of adapting to a gluten-free life. Over the years, her passion for wellness has turned into a profession.
A 2012 graduate of The Culinary Institute of America in New York, she is continually networking with other gluten-free experts and expanding her knowledge.
Her goal is to make gluten free an option for everyone, not just those in need.
Green may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Her column is published on the second Wednesday of each month.