Baked Macaroni & Cheese

Gratin de Pâtes Sauce Béchamel

Serves 4

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Comfort food and wintery weekends go together…just like macaroni and cheese. Here’s our latest culinary experiment using the French version with an American twist…gluten free penne pasta, sauce Béchamel, grated Monterey Jack and a wee bit of other healthy ingredients!


INGREDIENTS

1 box of gluten-free penne pasta

1 quart of whole milk or half & half

1 cup of grated Gruyère cheese or Monterey Jack

2 carrots

2 celery branches

1/2 sweet onion

2 garlic cloves

1/2 cup of organic unbleached or spelt flour

1/2 cup of butter

1tsp of salt

pepper and nutmeg to taste


PREPARATION

•• In a large pan or pasta pot, bring your water to a full boil before adding salt to taste along with the pasta. •• Cook the pasta to “al dente” (cooked but firm). •• Réserver (put a side) a cup of the pasta water before straining and set aside the cooked pasta in the strainer. •• While the pasta is cooking, grate the cheese and begin preparing the vegetables. •• Peel and cut your carrots into small pieces of approximately 1/8 inch. •• Remove dirt from the celery branches and cut likewise into pieces of 1/8 inch. •• In a sauté pan combine the vegetables with one tbsp of olive oil and cook for 2 – 3 minutes over a medium to high heat. •• Réserver in a small dish. •• Cut one half of the sweet onion into finely small quarters.  •• Remove the skin from the garlic and cut into fine pieces, then crunch the garlic along with a small amount of salt, using the flat side of a chef knife. •• Using the same sauté pan, place a tsp of olive oil, 1 tbsp of butter and combine the chopped onion and crunched garlic. •• Let the mixture sweat (cook until tender) for 8 minutes at a low to medium heat, with the lid on. •• Add the carrots and celery back into the same pan and réserver. •• Preheat your oven at 400 degrees. ••

Preparing the Béchamel

•• Using a sauce pan over a low heat, slowly the melt butter until you see the formation of small bubbles. •• Add salt, pepper and nutmeg (optional) to taste. •• Gradually introduce the flour by mixing slowly with a whisk to create a paste. •• This is called a roux, which should not be overcooked or allowed to become brown. •• Remove the roux from the heat and then add 1 quart of milk into the roux, mix until smooth and without the formation of any lumps. ••

•• Place the sauce pan back over a low heat, mixing the roux slowly and until it becomes firm. •• If you observe that the roux is quickly becoming too firm, remove the pan from the heat, but continue to mix. •• If the roux is becoming too thick, add sparing amounts of the reserved pasta water for desired lightness. •• Your Béchamel is now ready…presenting as a beautiful smooth sauce without any lumps. •• Add to your Béchamel the vegetable mixture and 1/4 cup the grated cheese, mixing throughly. •• In a buttered baking dish, evenly arrange the pasta and cover with the Béchamel. •• Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top. •• Place the dish on the upper rack of the oven and reduce the temperature to 350 degrees.  •• Cook for approximately 25 minutes and until top is nicely golden and crisp. •• For extra crispiness, broil for a few minutes, but you must stay on it or the dish will burn quickly. •• Serve piping hot. ••

•• Ooh la la!!! ••