Actually if you take my usual mac & cheese recipe (from my pre-gluten- free, dairy-free days) and remove the wheat and dairy, you’re left with Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper. Hmmm, you’re not feeling very hungry today, are you?
Luckily, with a few secret ingredients a creative cook can make a delicious, comforting, and healthy mac & cheese dish. Do you thirst to know our secret ingredients? (Random bit of trivia: I’m a BIG Iron Chef fan in spite of the fact that I can eat almost nothing that they cook.)
1. Tinkyáda Brown Rice Pasta – Fusilli: Whole grain, gluten-free, nutritious and delicious. Also really hard to mess up. Need I say more? You could use other gluten-free pasta, but why?
2. Daiya Cheddar Style Shreds: Vegan, gluten-free, and soy-free. Tastes surprisingly like cheese and melts like a dream. It’s not really a whole food, but Daiya is fabulous for a special treat like pizza or mac & cheese.
3. Fresh Butternut Squash: Butternut squash has a slightly sweet, pumpkin-ish taste. It’s a great source of vitamins A and C. Also a good source of the minerals magnesium and potassium. You won’t need a whole butternut squash for this recipe, so why not roast and puree extra butternut squash and save it to make soup the next day. For butternut squash soup, just saute some chopped onions, then add some broth and the pureed roasted butternut squash. Heat gently, then season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper and nutmeg. Two meals in one! Or two out of five butternut squash dishes if you’re playing along with Iron Chef.
- 3 cups butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and chopped into 1" cubes*
- 1 16-ounce package Tinkyada Brown Rice Pasta – Fusilli
- 1 8-ounce package Daiya Cheddar Style Shreds
- 1-1/2 tablespoons grape seed oil (or other mild-tasting oil)
- 1 teaspoon gluten-free Dijon mustard
- Sea salt
- Freshly ground pepper
- 1 pinch freshly ground nutmeg
- Smoked paprika
- *A small butternut squash weighs about 2 pounds. You will probably use about half a small squash, or you can buy a bag of pre-cut butternut squash. 3 cups of squash cubes will cook down to about 2 cups.
- Preheat the oven to 400°. Put the butternut squash and grape seed oil in a roasting pan and toss to coat. Roast for 20-25 minutes until tender. Stir the squash pieces halfway through the cooking time.
- While the squash is roasting, bring a large pot of water to boil. Add 1 tablespoon salt and brown rice pasta when the water boils and cook pasta 10-12 minutes according to package directions. Reserve 3/4 cup of the pasta water before draining. Rinse the cooked pasta well with cold water.
- Place the roasted butternut squash and reserved pasta water into a blender and blend until smooth.
- Put the butternut squash puree into the empty pasta pot. Add the package of Daiya Cheddar Style Shreds and Dijon mustard. Stir to combine. Add sea salt and pepper to taste. 1 teaspoon of sea salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper is a good amount to start with. Add the pinch of nutmeg. Be careful not to overdo the nutmeg. Nutmeg can easily overpower the sauce. Stir to combine all ingredients.
- Gently fold in the drained pasta to coat it with sauce. Warm the noodles and sauce in the pot over medium heat until the Daiya Cheddar Style Shreds are melted and the pasta is heated through. Gently stir occasionally to distribute the heat evenly and prevent sticking. Place a lid on the pot while warming to quicken the heating process, if desired.
- Sprinkle with smoked paprika before serving. Enjoy!