Alas, as I have pretty much convinced myself, whenever we try to plan or even talk about something that is going to be made on Wednesdays, it never works out. So, as it turned out, I have a ton of GF pastas at home that I picked up really cheaply at the store several months ago, and really should use them up. So, I brought a pack of pasta to work and improvised from there. I made this sauce several days ago (to be posted later) for a kind of mac and cheese, and must admit that I was extremely skeptical at first, but it ended up being super delicious, amazingly creamy, and not so bad for you either. Plus, it is both nutritional yeast and soy free, which I am sure will make some people happy. I decided to serve it with some simply roasted portabella mushrooms and garlic-ginger sauteed kale and broccoli - it was so good! The sauce is enough for two packages of pasta. You can easily halve it, or save it for another day, reheat it and serve it over broccoli, potatoes, or anything else where you want a delicious cheesy sauce!
Mac & Cheese, Roasted Portabella Mushrooms, Sauteed Kale & Broccoli:
|Mac & Cheese, Roasted Mushrooms, Sauteed Veggies|
Mac & Cheese:
1 16 oz. package gluten free pasta (I used a white rice shell shaped pasta)
2 1/4 cup peeled, chopped potatoes, about 3 small
1/2 cup peeled, diced carrots, about 2
3/4 cup chopped onion, about 1/2 large
2 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup raw cashews
1/3 cup Soy Free Earth Balance
3 teaspoons sea salt (start with 2 and increase from there)
2 teaspoons minced garlic, about 3 cloves
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon prepared Dijon mustard
3/4 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon chipotle pepper powder or cayenne powder, optional
2 jalapeno peppers, halved and thinly sliced, about 3 tablespoons - do not add to the sauce ingredients
GF Breadcrumbs, as needed - do not add to the sauce ingredients
Roasted Portabella Mushrooms:
4-6 portabella mushrooms, stems removed
olive oil, as needed
Sauteed Kale & Broccoli:
1 head broccoli, stalks peeled & chopped, florets separated
1 medium head kale, thick stalks removed and leaves sliced
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons small diced ginger
2-4 tablespoons GF tamari
1/4-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Start by preparing the sauce. In a medium saucepan, place the potatoes, carrots and onions and cover with the 2 1/2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook until vegetables are very soft. Place in the bowl of a blender along with the remaining sauce ingredients: the cashews, Earth Balance, salt, chopped garlic, lemon juice, mustard, paprika, black pepper and optional chipotle or cayenne pepper. Place the lid securely on top of the blender and puree until completely smooth, periodically scraping down the sides of the jar. Once completely smooth, season to taste and set aside until ready to use.
|The Pureed Cheese Sauce|
3. Next, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. This will be the water you will both blanch your vegetables in and cook your pasta. Prepare your vegetables separately - the broccoli will take about 1-1 1/2 minutes to cook, whereas the kale will need maybe 30 seconds. Once the water is firmly boiling, drop in the broccoli and immediately stir around with a slotted spoon. Wait about 1 minute, then add the kale and again immediately stir it with the same slotted spoon. It will reduce in size by at least half as soon as it hits the water.
4. Use that slotted spoon to remove the vegetables from the boiling water and place in a bowl lined with a colander. We want to keep the water boiling so we can start to cook our pasta in it right away. Once all of the vegetables have been removed from the water and are draining in the colander, drop the pasta into the water, again immediately stirring. My pasta took about 10 minutes to cook, but keep an eye on your pasta and stir it periodically. We are going to be baking this pasta as well, so remember that it should be slightly less than al dente because 1) nothing is worse than an over-cooked GF pasta, and 2) the pasta will continue to cook in the oven and if it is al dente when it is taken out, that means it will be very overcooked once it comes out of the oven.
|This is the Uncooked White Rice Shell Pasta|
5. When your pasta has finished cooking, drain it in a separate colander and place in a large bowl. Add about 2 1/2 cups of the finished sauce from the blender and pour directly over the pasta. (This should be about half of the amount of sauce that you prepared. The rest can now be stored in a container in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it for another dish.) Add the chopped jalapeno peppers and stir the pasta until the sauce has completely coated each piece of the pasta. Place this into a 10" baking pan that has been lightly oiled. Smooth the top of the mac & cheese with the back of your spoon and sprinkle generously with the breadcrumbs.
|The Mac & Cheese Before Being Baked|
6. Place the mac & cheese in the oven and cook until the top is nice and bubbly and the breadcrumbs have become nice and toasty. (Now that I think about it, it would have probably been amazing to toss the breadcrumbs in a little melted Earth Balance and sprinkle them over top. They would have become nice and buttery and toasty. Oh well - next time!)
|Mac & Cheese with Breadcrumbs After Being Baked|
7. Now prepare the mushrooms: Clean the mushrooms thoroughly and working quickly, drizzle some oil over both sides of the mushroom and sprinkle immediately with a small amount of the salt, pepper, onion and garlic powders. Place on a baking tray (it doesn't have to be oiled because they mushrooms will release all of their juices as they cook) and bake for about 10 minutes on each side, flipping over halfway through. Once softened and the edges become crispy, remove from the oven and set aside to cool slightly.
8. By now your mac and cheese and mushrooms should be almost done. You can now saute your veggies. In a large saute pan or small wok over medium-high heat, add the olive oil and allow it to become hot. Once it heats, add the chopped ginger and garlic and allow to cook for about a minute, or until fragrant, stirring frequently. Add in the drained blanched kale and broccoli and saute for a few minutes, just until heated through and flavored (remember we already cooked them by blanching them in the hot water). Lower the heat slightly and add the pepper flakes. Toss to coat. Add the tamari. Begin with the 2 tablespoons and increase to the 4 tablespoons, as desired.
9. To serve, place a nice helping of the baked mac & cheese on the plate and a helping of the sauteed veggies on the other side. In the center, place the cooked portabella mushroom, which has been sliced thinly (it's easier to eat this way - you don't have to bust out the steak knives!)
10. Eat slowly with a contented smile on your face. Eat as much of the mac & cheese as you want until your belly is nicely and completely stuffed.