Every once and awhile my girlfriends and I go out for dinner. We look forward to a glass of wine, or a fruity martini together. Relaxing and catching up is the order of business for these occasions, and we all anticipate it for days. More often than not we end up at the same, local restaurant. Three or four of the group always order the house Mac & Cheese. I anticipate their reaction to that first bite. They close their eyes for a second and all I hear around the group is “Mmmm”, in a very contented, quiet voice. Their first taste seems as though it must be a spiritual experience; it is that good. I finally took a taste and it was very good indeed. “I can do that”, I thought. So here it is. A sturdy, gluten-free elbow macaroni that won’t get gooey is coated with a cheesy, velvety sauce that clings to the pasta to satisfy every bite. The sauce is butter-free, but has a rich olive oil addition and harmonizes with three different cheeses. The crumb topping is crispy and just a bit savory. I love this Mac & Cheese. It is heavenly. My friends are so smart!
2 cups fat-free milk
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese – separated
4 tablespoon olive oil, separated
2 tablespoons corn starch
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup Colby/Monterey jack cheese blend, shredded
1 ¼ cornflake crumbs
½ teaspoon celery salt
1 tablespoon dried parsley
Bring a large pot of water to a full boil. Salt to taste and stir in dried macaroni. Cook 6 – 7 minutes but no longer to have the pasta ‘just right’. Drain.
In large saucepan heat milk on medium until warm through. Stir in 2 tablespoons olive oil, ¼ cup Parmesan cheese. Stir and heat 2 minutes. Add salt and black pepper, and ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg. Whisk in 2 tablespoons cornstarch, one tablespoon at a time. Continue whisking over medium heat until sauce thickens. Once it is thick (about as thick as ketchup) remove from heat. Stir in the cheese, one cup at a time.
Pour sauce over elbow macaroni in large bowl and mix well. Divide into 4 buttered, casseroles. Set aside.
In saucepan heat 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add cornflake crumbs and parsley and stir until crumbs just begin to brown. Remove from heat. Stir in ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, ½ teaspoon celery salt, and ¼ teaspoon nutmeg. Salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle crumbs over Mac & Cheese. Cover and refrigerate until use, or warm in 350 degree over for 15 minutes.