I’m excited to share that my Creamy Gluten-Free Mac & Cheese with Prosciutto Crisps is part of the new e-book Mo Macaroni and Cheese: 30 Mouthwatering Recipes for America’s Favorite Comfort Food. My fellow Los Angeles Food Bloggers brought together our favorite recipes for this classic dish in a cookbook that benefits the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank. Get your copy on Amazon and you’ll be helping feed our city AND expanding your mac & cheese horizons.
I wanted to contribute a gluten-free recipe to this book because when I decided to adopt a less-gluten-lifestyle, the first thing I worried about was pasta alternatives. Eating a bit less gluten makes me feel lighter and makes my digestive track happier. But am I willing to give up mac & cheese for this newfound happiness? Absolutely not. That’s ridiculous. Thus a search for wheat-alternative pasta began.
At first I consoled myself by eating as many rice noodles as I could get my hands on. This was a delicious endeavor. I love Thai stir-fried rice noodles with chilies and basil and a bit of the char from the searing-hot wok. I also adore cold Vietnamese rice noodle salads jam-packed with fresh herbs and super thin rice noodles drowning in a lime-spiked pho broth. But when it came time to make my favorite fresh tomato sauce, I needed a sturdy cut of pasta — a delicate rice noodle just wasn’t going to cut it. Same goes for macaroni and cheese – what good is the perfect, creamy béchamel if you don’t have some hearty pasta to toss in it?
After much taste-testing, I discovered quinoa pasta was the answer. Brown rice pastas were too gummy, 100% corn pastas were too corny. The blend of quinoa and corn made by Ancient Harvest is the best balance of flavor (neutral and slightly nutty) and texture (tender but sturdy). It’s my go-to choice for cheesy sauces and particularly good in this recipe. But my favorite part of this Mac & Cheese is the crispy topping. Part buttered breadcrumbs and part crumbled prosciutto, the topping is salty and crispy and adds a nice crunch to an otherwise creamy dish. The prosciutto crisps up quickly in the oven – just be sure to let it cool so it reaches full crispiness-potential. Enjoy!
- 12 oz gluten-free elbow macaroni (Ancient Harvest Quinoa pasta is my favorite)
- 6 slices prosciutto
- 4 tablespoons butter, divided
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 sliced gluten-free bread (such as Udi’s White Bread)
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- 3 ½ cups whole milk
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 10 oz grated white chedder
- 6 oz grated fontina
- kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 400 F. Butter a 2-quart baking dish.
- Bring a medium pot of water to a rolling boil. Add 1 tablespoon salt. Add the pasta, stir to ensure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot. Cook according to package directions until just tender, approximately 6-7 minutes. Drain, rinse lightly and set aside.
- Lay out the pieces of prosciutto on a baking sheet and bake for 8 minutes. Remove and let cool (they will crisp as they cool).
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of the butter and the olive oil. Crumble the bread into the pan and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring, until bread begins to toast. Remove from heat and stir in the garlic powder. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, stir together ½ cup of the milk and the cornstarch. Set aside.
- Heat a medium pot over medium heat. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter. When melted, add the Dijon, cayenne and nutmeg. Cook for 30 seconds. Whisk in the 3 cups milk. Cook until milk is steaming hot, stirring occasionally. Whisk in the cornstarch slurry. Continue to cook until boiling. Bubble for 1 minute and remove from heat.
- Stir in the cheeses, ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon ground black pepper.
- Add the drained pasta and gently fold together. Taste and season with more salt and pepper as desired.
- Transfer mixture to the prepared baking dish. Top with breadcrumbs and bake for 15 minutes.
- Remove and crumble the cooled prosciutto onto the top.
- Serve immediately.
- NOTE: For a creamier texture, skip the baking step. Simply stir the pasta and sauce together and serve with the toasted bread crumbs and prosciutto crumble.