Italian Mac and Cheese

Mac. And. Cheese. “Three words […] Say it and I’m yours.” Chuck Bass should have definitely handed Blair a plate of mac and cheese in that moment to swoop her off her feet (any Gossip Girl fans out there?).

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Nothing is more inviting on a chilly day than a plate of mac and cheese. It’s ooey gooey and warms your soul with each bite. But I’m not talking about a chemical and color-laden mac and cheese that comes in a box – that’s right I’m talking about you KD! I’m talking a rich béchamel sauce, healthy brown rice macaroni, beautifully roasted tomatoes, ricotta cheese and more freshly grated cheese, all finished with a breadcrumb topping and drizzled in fresh pesto.

This isn’t a simple “microwave for 90 seconds and voila” recipe – I’ve boycotted the microwave (research about the harmful effect if you’d like). Unlike those KD cups, this mac will take time but it is oh-so worth it, trust me. Real food shouldn’t be ready after a 90 second zap anyways.

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In my humble opinion, this recipe will take mac and cheese to A WHOLE NEW LEVEL and you know I don’t joke when it comes to food – okay, okay I love a good food pun though. Puns aside, I take my pasta seriously.

Although I am using ricotta and caciotta cheese here, you may substitute the cheese for a dairy-free alternative to make it vegan. I have included some substitutions at the end of the recipe I believe that anyone can enjoy mac and cheese, no matter their eating lifestyle!

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Italian Mac and Cheese (serves 4-5)

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp. avocado oil
  • 3 tbsp. brown rice flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk of choice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2/3 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup mozzarella, grated
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp. fresh rosemary (or 1 tsp dried rosemary)
  • 3 cups brown rice macaroni pasta (I LOVE Rizopia)
  • 3-4 tbsp. almond flour for the breadcrumb topping
  • pesto for serving

Directions:

  1. Roast the tomatoes: Place the cherry tomatoes in a shallow baking dish. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with rosemary and sea salt. Roast at 400F degrees for 20 minutes.
  2. Make the cheese sauce: In a large pot on medium heat, combine the extra virgin olive oil and brown rice flour. Cook it until both ingredients are well incorporated, whisking constantly. Begin adding the milk, 1/4 cup at a time (adding all the milk at once will break the béchamel sauce, preventing it from thickening). Once all the milk is added and you have a creamy white sauce, add the ricotta and caciotta cheese along with salt and pepper to taste. Whisk until well combined then remove from heat and keep on the side.
  3. Cook the pasta: Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the macaroni pasta according to the directions on the bag. Once cooked, strain and place back in the pot.
  4. Assemble the mac and cheese: Pour the cheese sauce into the macaroni, saving about 3-4 tbsp. to top it with later. Once the cheese sauce and macaroni are well combined, scoop it into a ceramic baking dish along with the roasted cherry tomatoes.
  5. Bake for 12-15 minutes at 350F degrees. Once baked, top with the extra cheese sauce and almond flour breadcrumb topping. Broil for 5 minutes at 400F degrees or until golden. Top with pesto and serve. Enjoy!

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SUBSTITUTIONS:

* if you’re not making it gluten-free, you may use:

  • white all purpose flour instead of the brown rice flour
  • regular breadcrumbs or make your own using your favorite bread

* If you’re making it vegan, use:

  • dairy-free milk for the béchamel sauce
  • dairy-free cheese like Daiya
  • dairy-free pesto

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happy cooking,

Sarah

 

 

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