I simply can’t go through life missing out on the comfort and deliciousness that is Mum’s Macaroni Cheese. But the question remains – is it really possible to make a gluten free and dairy free version that comes close?
You see, hers is pretty special and even as a kid when I went to other kids’ houses, I quickly learned that no one makes Macaroni Cheese like my mum.
The unlikely but awesome inclusion of cooking apple is just one of the special ingredients that make my mum’s the best Macaroni and Cheese recipe.
Once you try it you will never go back.
Now, there are lots of recipes adaptable to a gluten intolerant or dairy free lifestyle, but Macaroni Cheese seems like one that sits very comfortably in the too hard basket. Some may think that if you can’t have the real deal it’s not worth having at all, but I disagree.
Recently I have been craving some winter comfort food. I have also noticed that during my pregnancy, now that food is fun again, I have been heading towards my mum’s recipe collection with great frequency. I’m definitely revisiting my childhood through these recipes but let’s just say the lasagne didn’t end so well due to it’s inclusion at a particular bad point of morning sickness!
So my mission was clear = make a Gluten free dairy free (Cow’s Milk Free) Macaroni Cheese that took me back to my childhood.
It didn’t have to be perfect but it could come close. In the meantime of course, my gluten and dairy loving husband got the real deal and is now able to see why no other Macaroni Cheese will ever compare.
The Gluten Free Macaroni Part
The Gluten Free part is easy – Gluten Free Pasta is aplenty in supermarkets or health food stores and in a baked pasta dish it tastes as good as I can remember normal pasta ever tasting. In this recipe today I used a Buckwheat Pasta which is naturally darker in colour but much higher in fibre than just a white rice gluten free pasta.
I could even combat making a gluten free roux – the butter mixed with flour that thickens sauces so nicely – by just using some gluten free flour.
The Dairy Free Cheese Part
The dairy free (well in my case Cow’s milk free) – that was always going to be the challenge. But never fear, enter one of my favourite culinary websites for the intolerant – Gluten Free Goddess®.
This wonderful woman and her recipes have saved me many times over and is a constant resource for my cooking or even just for inspiration. Across the years she has developed several intolerances and now even includes a section for the gluten-free casein-free, the protein in cow’s milk I am intolerant of.
Plus there are countless substitute options for different milks, flours, flour mixes so if you’re missing something at home there’s no need to rush out for more ingredients. You name it, she has a solution. Check out her gluten free cheat sheet here or baking tips and substitutions here. Following a Low-FODMAP diet? No worries, she has a section for you too right here.
But back to the creamy cheese sauce that was going to form the basis of my Macaroni Cheese. This is an adapted recipe from Gluten Free Goddess’ The Best Vegan Baked Mac and Cheese Recipe.
The No-Cheese Cheese Sauce
- Heat the olive oil over medium heat and stir in the sweet rice flour using a whisk. Cook and stir the flour for about 10 seconds until the ‘raw flour’ taste subsides, then slowly add in the rice milk bit by bit – continuously stirring with the whisk to make a flour paste. This is the roux.
- Bring the mixture to a slight bubble and then reduce the heat to low.
- Add in the tahini, nutritional yeast, mustard, rice vinegar, sea salt, garlic, onion, nutmeg and white wine and whisk some more.
- Very very gently sprinkle in some turmeric for colour – a little goes a long way. A little too much and it will become a curry sauce!
- Cook on low for 10 mins to develop flavours and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
- Add in extra grated goat’s cheese if using, don’t worry if it doesn’t melt just yet, it will melt in the oven later.
Bravo you have made a cheesy but un-cheesy sauce.
∗ Note: I’ve never been one good for measuring quantities, but this recipe is quite generous. I often use ½ the quantity of sauce and freeze the rest which makes filling a Macaroni Cheese craving later on, all the quicker.
Macaroni Cheese – Gluten free and dairy free
- Bag of gluten free pasta – ideally macaroni, rigatoni, spirals or something small and chunky
- 3 tablespoons olive oil/butter/ghee if preferred
- 2 onions, diced
- 1 stalk of celery, very finely diced
- 3 rashers of Free-range bacon, diced finely
- 1 Granny Smith apple, diced
- 1 cup of fresh diced tomatoes
- some No-Cheese Cheese Sauce
- ½ to 1 cup of grated hard Goat’s cheese – try a Dutch Chevrette from Woolworths or this Goat’s Cheese Mozarella from the Mornington Peninsula
- handful of Gluten Free Breadcrumbs (toast some bread quickly in oven and crush in a mini food processor)
optional Green extras:
- 1 Zucchini, very finely diced,
- a handful of frozen peas
- a handful of spinach of silverbeet, finely sliced
- finely dropped broccoli – an excellent way to disguise for kids!
- Preheat oven to 180°C fan forced.
- Cook pasta as per packet directions in a large saucepan of boiling water. Be careful to only cook gluten free pasta till al dente as it will continue cooking in the oven later.
- Heat oil in a large frypan. Add onions, celery, bacon and apple to the frypan and cook on medium until golden brown. It will smell delicious!
- Add in tomatoes and keep stirring until they are broken down into the other ingredients.
- Add in optional Green extras and cook for a minute or two.
- Add everything to the No Cheese sauce, plus pasta and stir well to make sure all the pasta is coated with all the goodies.
- Pour into an oven dish and cover top with grated goat’s cheese and then a nice layer of crunchy breadcrumbs.
- Pop in the oven for 30mins or until browned on top.
Devour and relish in the fact that you are actually eating Macaroni and Cheese just like your mum used to make – well almost.
Makes 4-6 portions depending on generosity. Serve with a green salad or some steamed greens for a balanced meal!
Let me know what you think! Have you tried adapting one of your old favourite recipes to suit your current dietary requirements? How did it work out? Please share in the comments below both your successes and the ones that are still a work in progress 🙂