Macaroni and Cheese

Macaroni.  Cheese.  Two words that, when paired together, create a timeless phrase that has never gone out of date or out of style.  It’s something that little kids and big kids at heart know and love as ultimate comfort.

This recipe should come with a warning label though….Caution: you will get light headed and a feeling of euphoria will take over.  Side effects also include: the hearing of angels singing, family cheering, and hearts melting.

I absolutely love the simplicity and beauty of cheese that is bubbly and golden brown at the end of baking in a hot oven. It’s a masterpiece that should be put in sophisticated places like the Louvre. I am pretty sure Michelangelo would agree.

ingredients

  • 1 box of Jovial einkorn penne pasta OR
  • 12 oz rice pasta for gluten free
  • ½ stick butter 4 oz, grass-fed/pasture-raised is best
  • A bit more butter to grease your casserole dish
  • ¼ C cream or milk raw is best or try Kalona SuperNatural brand
  • 3 C cheese blend we use sharp cheddar, fontina and asiago, grated *
  • 1 tsp dried thyme*
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper

instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees
  2. Butter the bottom and sides of your casserole dish(es).
  3. Fill a large pot about 2/3 of the way with water and bring to boil on the stove over high heat.
  4. While you’re waiting for the water to boil, grate your cheese over a cutting board or sheet of parchment paper.
  5. Add pasta to boiling water and cook to al dente (which means somewhat cooked but still firm. The noodles will cook further in the oven in a bit and you don’t want them to turn to mush). For einkorn pasta this will take 12 minutes or so. For a rice pasta it will take less time – about 8 – 10 minutes.
  6. You may want to turn the heat down a bit under your pot. You want it to boil without sloshing over the side.
  7. Drain the pasta and put the hot noodles back into the pot (off heat).
  8. Put your butter and cream or milk in the pot and stir it around with a spatula. This makes a sauce for the cheeses to melt into.
  9. Now, add just 2 cups of your cheese blend and mix it up.
  10. Lastly, add all your spices and herbs and mix well. You want to wait and add them at this point because it helps to keep them from clumping and to spread evenly throughout the mixture.
  11. Scoop the mac and cheese into buttered casserole dish(es).
  12. Sprinkle remaining 1 cup of cheese evenly over the top.
  13. Bake in oven for 30 – 40 minutes. Even if you split the mac up into smaller, individual ramekins the cook time won’t change much. Ultimately, you know they’re done when they’re bubbly and beginning to brown on top.
  14. Let stand for 10 minutes and then, Enjoy! (amidst all he hugs and cheering and melting hearts).

Recipe Notes

*It can be difficult to source more obscure types of cheeses domestically that say they are organic or hormone and antibiotic free. Just choose a higher-quality brand that doesn’t list additives on the label.

*You can use fresh herbs instead. Just make sure to at least double the amount you’re adding if you use fresh as they are usually less potent than their dried out cousins.

There’s no way to do this particular recipe grain free but you can do it gluten free by choosing a rice pasta. There are other gluten free pastas out there but there’s no need to complicate and you don’t want anything with corn in it (many gluten free pastas have corn in them). Plus, different grains and brands have different consistencies. If you’re feeling adventurous, go explore the wild and gluten free pasta frontier otherwise, a nice, rice penne or macaroni noodle is perfect.

The recipe mentions einkorn. What is einkorn anyway? In a nut shell, it’s a wheat grain that was almost extinct less than a decade ago when an Italian company by the name of Jovial began to research the crop and, with the help of farmers who were willing to take a risk, brought it back into the main stream. Well, the main stream for those who are health and nutrition – minded, anyway. Due to the ever rising number of folks with a gluten sensitivity, I expect einkorn will continue to gain popularity. By the way, Jovial actually makes our favorite rice pasta as well but it only comes capellini style…so it just depends on what kind of noodle you want.

But, if einkorn is a wheat doesn’t it have gluten? The short answer is “yes.” But, there’s more to it. Einkorn is the most ancient grain still in existence. It’s a pre-cursor to modern wheat, like spelt. Spelt also has gluten. Einkorn is even less hybridized than spelt and, in fact, according to all the research I’ve read, hasn’t been hybridized at all. The plant is still exactly like it was when it grew thousands of years ago.

The gluten in einkorn (and spelt, for that matter) is not the same as the gluten in modern wheat. It’s weaker and the proteins that make up the strands of gluten are different. In short, many, many people with moderate to, in some cases, even pretty severe gluten sensitivities easily handle eating foods made from einkorn without experiencing the symptoms that normally come when they consume gluten. Modern gluten is a different monster.

So, talk with your practitioner or, if you’re a member, email Veritas Kitchen via the contact form on this website if you have questions about whether you should try einkorn. And, even if einkorn treats you well, this kind of dish should still only grace your table occasionally as it’s a big load of carbs and may be a spike to your blood sugar you aren’t used to! Not to mention, you don’t want to regularly displace all the veggies you need to be eating in your diet.

A word about cheese:

Sourcing a quality cheese is much like sourcing any other dairy product. You ask yourself many of the same questions. Cheese comes from milk. Milk comes from a cow (or sheep or goat.) So, how was the animal raised? What did it eat? What additives, if any, were added to the cheese during processing. Good cheese will be organic or at least from animals who weren’t fed GMO’s or given antibiotics or growth stimulants. Better cheese will be from animals raised on pasture that also meet the previously mentioned criteria. Often, the best cheeses are raw. We won’t go into cheese-making 101 today but for some basic guidelines and things to consider, I think that will suffice.

If you’ve been avoiding much dairy in your diet and want to make this mac and cheese I advise not eating a very large portion at a time. Different dairy foods treat us a bit differently when consumed. Even though you may have no issue with yogurt, you may not be able to say the same about cheese. Just try it and listen to your body. And, as always, your practitioner can help you know when or how much cheese to add to your diet.

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