If you ask people what their favorite comfort food is, chances are, macaroni and cheese will be one of the most popular. And why not? Macaroni and cheese is creamy, cheesy, and at its best, baked with a bit of crunch on the top. It soothes our souls and makes for happy bellies. The popularity of macaroni and cheese is proven by the countless variations offered at restaurants all across the country. The Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board recognizes this, and so when they approached me to contribute to their new blog, 30 Days 30 Ways with Macaroni and Cheese, how could I say no?
But when you’re following a gluten-free diet, macaroni and cheese is not something so easily acquired. Since going on a gluten-free diet, I have not had the joy and comfort that comes from this humble dish. At times, memories of Luby’s creamy macaroni haunted me. (If you lived in Texas for any length of time, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Luby’s may not be the finest of dining establishments, but they have some of the creamiest macaroni and cheese. I’ve loved it since I was a kid.) Well, the pining stops here.
Meet gluten-free macaroni and cheese, made simple by my best pasta friend, Tinkyada. Of course, you can use any gluten-free pasta that you choose – I just love Tinkyada’s brown rice pasta because it doesn’t turn mushy. And since it’s made from brown rice, I’m getting a bit of fiber into the dish. (Not to say that this is health food – it’s still macaroni and cheese, after all!) And no, Tinkyada isn’t paying me to tell you about all of this – I just love their products.
This Parmesan macaroni and cheese is relatively straightforward. Of course, if you choose, you can add ingredients to your liking – bacon, chopped tomatoes, or other cheeses would all be welcomed here. We have a tendency to be purists in our home when it comes to macaroni and cheese, so we opted to keep it simple. And let me tell you – simple was delicious!
Gluten-Free Parmesan Macaroni and Cheese
4 cups dry gluten-free pasta (I used Tinkyada brown-rice fusilli)
1/4 c (1/2 stick, or 4 T) butter
3 T tapioca starch/flour
2 1/2 c milk
3 t dry mustard
1 t paprika
1 egg, beaten
12 oz mild white cheddar, grated
2 oz Parmesan, finely grated
1 t salt
1 t ground black pepper
Cook the pasta as directed on package, removing from water 2-3 minutes early, so that the pasta is very firm. Drain.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a large baking dish. In a large, heavy pot, melt the butter over medium-low heat, and pour in the tapioca starch.Whisk constantly, for 2-3 minutes, or until light brown. (Do not let it burn.) Pour in the milk, and add the mustard and paprika. Whisk until smooth, and cook, whisking constantly, until very thick. Reduce heat to low. Pour about 1/4 cup of the thickened sauce into the egg and whisk constantly to avoid the cooking the egg. Pour egg mixture into sauce, and whisk in all but about 1/2 cup of the cheddar and 1/2 cup of the Parmesan. Stir until melted. Season with salt and pepper, tasting to adjust as needed.
Pour in the pasta and stir to combine. Place into prepared baking dish and sprinkle with remaining cheeses. Bake, uncovered, for 25 minutes or until sufficiently browned.