Monday, September 8, 2014

Gluten-Free Macaroni and Cheese with Toasty Eggplant


Pairing macaroni and cheese with a healthy vegetable has always been odd for me. I don't really like vegetables mixed into the mac n cheese, because I love the consistent smooth texture of the pasta, getting to really appreciate the cheese flavors. I think veg on the side with a meal like mac n cheese is important though, because honestly we all know it's a splurge meal.

This recipe is gluten free, with healthy whole ingredients, but still, every meal needs some lovely produce. I'm used to doing broccoli as a side with this meal, but thought I would experiment with eggplant instead this time around. I thought the textures would compliment each other, and the single-note mac n cheese could be met with the earthy nutrient dense eggplant.

I loved making this meal. You create both dishes and pop them into the oven at the same time with the same finishing time. Very satisfying pulling both skillets out ready to serve right on the table. Even if you try one or the other, they're both great simple recipes.

Also, if you haven't tried cooking with a cast iron skillet, it's time to try now! They are awesome, hold uniform heat while cooking, and you get added (good) iron into your diet by using these things. Keep them properly by washing without soaps, zapping any moisture immediately after washing, and following up with a drop of oil. Little by little my kitchen collection is expanding, and I'm hoping to continue to recommend to you the gadgets that make me a happy cook! 

Happy cooking (and eating!).

Gluten-Free Macaroni and Cheese with Toasty Eggplant
(Printable Recipe)
Macaroni adapted from Firefly's via the Washingtonian. Eggplant is an original recipe. Serves: 4-6 Time:1 hr. Gluten-Free | Vegetarian

Ingredients:
1 bag brown rice pasta shells (about 4 cups dry)
1 tsp pink Himalayan salt
-
1/4 cup butter
1/8 - 1/4 cup potato starch, or gluten-free flour mix of your choice (add a little at a time until thick enough)
1 3/4 - 2 cups half and half (add until smooth enough)
1 cup shredded white cheddar
1 cup shredded Gruyère cheese
1 tsp pink Himalayan salt
1⁄8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1⁄8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 cup parmesan, grated
-
1 eggplant, sliced
2 tbsp olive oil (or coconut oil), divided
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp pink Himalayan salt

How To:
In a large stock pot fill 3/4 full with water. Add salt. Bring to a boil. Add brown rice pasta. Stir. Vigorously boil for two minutes. Stir. Turn off heat and cover. Let rest for 16 minutes. Drain and do not rinse. Return back to stock pot. Set aside.

Turn oven on to broil setting, or highest heat possible. In a medium saucepan over medium - low heat, add butter. Once butter is melted, turn heat to low, and add the starch a little at a time, whisking until well incorporated and thick. You may not need the full amount. Make sure to get every corner and crevice, the starch may want to clump together and it's best to work them out before you add the rest of the ingredients. Gently pour in the half and half reserving 1/2 cup. Stir until thick and bubbly, add in the remaining cream if needed to be thinner. Turn off the heat. Add in the white cheddar and Gruyére. Stir until melted. Add the salt, cayenne, and garlic powder.

In the large stock pot, pour the cheese sauce over the pasta and stir well until incorporated. Pour mixture into a large cast iron skillet. Sprinkle with parmesan. Set aside.

In a large cast iron skillet add half of the oil and spread it evenly. Add the eggplant slices. Drizzle the remaining oil on top of the eggplant. Sprinkle with the remaining seasonings.
Place both the macaroni and cheese and the eggplant into the oven. Bake for 15 minutes or until nice and toasty. You may rotate the placement of the skillets once through cooking.

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