Growing up with a mom who rarely cooked anything straight out of a box, I was never a big mac and cheese eater. That all changed my freshman year of college when I grew to like the stuff a little too much.
Luckily, my sophomore year of college, I discovered pilates and was able to reverse the the effects of this powdered cheese stint. Today, I find myself craving the bright orange chemical induced meal once in a blue moon. Tonight was one such blue moon so I decided to make it Mardi circa 2010 style – with some healthy alterations. I went all out and decided to use almond flour and oat milk as the thickening base. I discovered later that a thicker milk and regular flour probably would have made the consistency much more like the pre-packaged stuff. The almond flour didn’t dissolve well and the sauce came out a bit grainy and dried out pretty quickly. I used goat cheese in place of cheddar and decided to top this dish off with some roasted red beets and a little shaved gouda. Despite the dry texture, the flavors mixed together great! I really loved the taste of this dish and plan to try it again soon with some good ol’ fashion flour and milk. Here’s how I made this…
1 box quinoa pasta shells
1/2 cup half and half or cream
1 small package of goat cheese (6 oz) softened
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 cup graded sharp aged gouda cheese
Salt & Pepper to taste
2 small red beets
To roast beets, cut off tops and bottoms, wrap in tin foil and roast in the oven on a baking sheet for 40 minutes at 400 degrees. When beets are close to done, cook quinoa pasta in boiling pot of water with a little olive oil for 6–9 minutes. When beets are done cooking, remove from oven and foil and chop into small pieces. Set aside and keep covered so they stay warm. In a medium pot, bring water and a little olive oil to boil and cook quinoa pasta shells for about 8-9 minutes. Remove and strain. Place pasta back in the pot and on low heat, add the goat cheese, slowly mixing in the half and half or cream and extra virgin olive oil. Add enough cream to help blend and soften the goat cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and pour pasta into a pyrex, top with beets and gouda. Bake at 400 degrees for about 10-15 minutes or until gouda starts to melt.