Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Southeast Meets Western Frontier: Fancy Mac & Cheese

I played with Ree's Fancy Mac and Cheese recipe to add a little bit of green and a carb-less noodle option.  This was important to me for a couple of reasons:
  1. This recipe already has five cheeses... there had to be some health considerations somewhere
  2. Green is important- embrace it and hide it in cheese
  3. As we all stave off diabetes or try to control it, a Pasta Zero option is a good idea
Step One:  Shop
The ingredients needed for this recipe are:
  • 1 package of sliced turkey bacon
  • 2 yellow onions, diced
  • 2 broccoli florets
  • 16 oz. mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 packages of shiritaki Pasta Zero
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan, grated
  • 1/2 cup Gruyere, grated
  • 4 oz. Goat Cheese, crumbled
  • 4 oz. Blue Cheese, crumbled
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2.5 cups cream
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 stick of butter
Step Two:  Grate Cheese
I'm impatient so grating cheese is clearly the hardest part of this recipe to me.  Meanwhile, I had my broccoli steaming in a pot, my sliced mushrooms and diced onions sauteeing and my bacon sizzling on the George Foreman Grill.  Luckily, the shiritaki Pasta Zero comes in a liquid so this won't need boiling.  I would recommend rinsing it well and then tossing with a lemon or lime's worth of juice before using in any recipe.
Step Three:  Sauce It Up
In a medium sauce pan, I melted 4 tablespoons of butter, whisked in 1/4 cup flour and continued whisk when adding the 2.5 cups of cream.  I added approximately 1 teaspoon of salt and pepper each.  I used a little less than 1/3 cup of this heated sauce into my beaten eggs to temper them to the heat and then added them slowly to the sauce.
Step Four:  Then Add Cheese
This was the time to get excited because I mixed all the grated cheeses (EXCEPT the Blue Cheese) and added them to the sauce pan.  I stirred constantly until there was a nice melted sauce. 
Step Five:  Mix Pasta Zero, Broccoli and Cheese Sauce
I used the melted cheese sauce to pour over the steamed broccoli and Pasta Zero.  I mixed this gently so as not to mush the broccoli or make a knot of the pasta.
Step Six:  Layer
Now it was time to layer the ingredients into a buttered cooking dish.  Start by layering (in order):  half the onions, half the pasta/broccoli mix, half the mushrooms, half the blue cheese and half the bacon.  Then repeat this layering process a second time.
Step Seven:  Bake

I baked this dish at 425 deg F for 25 minutes.  Use a bigger baking dish than me... mine ranneth over.

Step Eight:  Enjoy
This was a delicious recipe.  Would it have been tastier without the broccoli and fake pasta?  Yes, of course it would, BUT this way, we got the cheese and didn't have to feel nearly as guilty about it. 
423 cal/ 8 g carbs/ 37 g fat/ 14 g protein per serving
  1. Be sure to use a larger baking dish than I did.  Mine bubbled over in the oven.
  2. In the future, I'll cut the Pasta Zero before adding to a dish.  It was slightly stretchy.  I've heard gluten free pasta is a spoungier texture, but it takes forever to wind it around a fork.
  3. The mushrooms and the onions really add the flavor to this dish.  They compliment the cheeses quite nicely.


  1. I made her mac and cheese for a party awhile back, and instead of adding all the extras to the mac and cheese (well, except for the garlic), I put them on the side and had a "mac and cheese bar" - caramelized onions, bacon, roasted red peppers, sun-dried tomatoes. It was a big hit! I've never tried any alternative pastas. I'll have to take a look at them next time we're in the store.

  2. Well, let's face it- when there's that much cheese involved, it's hard to go wrong...