Let’s just face it. Mondays suck. It’s a complete interruption from my weekend filled with family and home obligations which I would rather much do then be back at work, looking at a stack of TPS reports and people asking me if I “got the memo.” Actually, my job is nothing like that since I am in the classroom but even so, Mondays can feel like a kick in the crotch. Well turn that frown upside down because I’ve got a dish that can ward off that Mopey Monday feeling. Mac-n-cheese. Let’s say it together “Mac-N-Cheese!” You. In the back. Participate or that’s a demerit! ::finally hears the last mac-n-cheese:: Ah, that’s better. There is nothing more comforting than a nice bowl of macaroni and cheese. It’s homey, googly-oogly with a variety of cheeses and it just makes you want to burst into song.
The recipe below I adapted from Ina Garten’s Grown Up Mac-N-Cheese. I used gouda instead of gruyere cheese only because that it what I had. I also made it slightly more “healthy”, and I say that loosely because I know there is A LOT of cheese in here, by using whole wheat noodles (more fiber), spelt flour for the rue (more fiber, whole grain, organic), and used a millet/flax lavash for my bread crumbs on top.
What is spelt? Well, I’m glad you asked. Spelt is a grain in the wheat family that has been in cultivation for thousands of years. When ground, it usually is blended with white and whole grain incarnations. It can be a substitute for wheat flours but some alterations may be necessary when baking. It can even sub in for all-purpose (as I did in this recipe below). Spelt has a nuttier flavor and when baking, it has a grainier texture. Since spelt is nutty in flavor, I thought that it would compliment the variety of cheeses that I used for my cheese sauce.
Millet and Flax Lavash is a DREAM! It is primarily made up of millet and brown rice flours, as well as, ground flaxseed. I know what you’re thinking. “Tasteless, Gross, Cardboard.” It is NONE of those things. It is FIBER PACKED (11 carbs and 5 of those carbs are fiber= 6 net carbs) and all natural. I have replaced bread with these lavashes, so naturally, I used them as my bread crumbs for the top of my mac-n-cheese.
So now that we have talked about some of the ingredients that I used in my “healthy” version of mac-n-cheese to help you get through that case of the Mondays, let’s get down to the recipe.
No More Case of the Mondays Mac-N-Cheese
- 8 ounces thick-sliced bacon
- Kosher salt
- 1 box of whole wheat noodles (or regular noodles)
- 3 cups milk
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 tablespoons spelt flour (or all-purpose flour)
- 8 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated (I used Gouda)
- 6 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated
- 4 ounces blue cheese, such as Roquefort, crumbled
- 2 ounces cream cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Pinch nutmeg
- half of a lavash, pulsed through a food processor (or 4 slices of sandwich bread)
- 2 tablespoons freshly chopped basil leaves (optional)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Place a baking rack on a sheet pan and arrange the bacon in 1 layer on the baking rack. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the bacon is crisp. Remove the pan carefully from the oven – there will be hot grease in the pan! Transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels and crumble when it is cool enough to handle.
Drizzle oil into a large pot of boiling salted water. Add the macaroni and cook according to the directions on the package, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain well.
Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don’t boil it. Melt the butter in a medium pot and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. While whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or 2 more, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the Gruyere, Cheddar, blue cheese, cream cheese, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooked macaroni and crumbled bacon and stir well. Pour into medium sized casserole tray that has been buttered.
Place half of a lavash in a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until you have coarse crumbs. Sprinkle the lavash crumbs over the top of the pasta. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.
Want to get your hands on some Lavash?? Check out Sami’s Bakery here in Tampa! I recommend the regular millet and flax lavash, as well as, the millet and flax chips (plain AND Cinnamon/sugar). They ship too!!