Happy New Year everyone! I’m excited to be back from my blogging hiatus and absolutely ecstatic about this Kale Mac and Cheese. With all the craziness of the past few months (yes, I’m talking about the election and beyond) I, for one, have been craving comfort food: hearty, flavorful, cheesy goodness to get us through the cold until the sun comes out again.
You may notice that, unlike 99.9 percent of my savory recipes, this one contains no onion or garlic (gasp!) You might also notice that that this recipe is tagged “Low FODMAP,” and if you were to check out the “By Diet” section of my blog, you’ll see that in addition to filtering recipes by vegan, dairy-free, grain-free, egg-free, etc., you can now search for recipes with this tag. So what does this all mean? And what the hell are FODMAPs?
I’ve waffled back and forth as to whether I wanted to share the reason for my blogging hiatus (Hint: it has to do with FODMAPs) and decided that I owe it to anyone who might be in a similar situation. So if you are struggling with SIBO or the Low FODMAP diet, or you just want to hear my musings on the topic, click here. I’ll explain what those terms mean, and talk a bit about my personal journey with them. For the rest of you, don’t worry: I triple promise that this Kale Mac and Cheese – and all of the recipes I share here – are NOT just intended for those on a special diet. They are packed with flavor and designed to appeal to anyone who enjoys deliciousness. In fact, many of the recipes I’ve shared here are already low FODMAP; I just hadn’t previously identified them as such.
Now let’s get to this Mac and Cheese.
The primary cheese in this Mac and Cheese is manchego, a nutty sheep’s milk cheese from Spain. Then we throw in a good amount of tangy asiago and just a bit of sharp, rich cheddar. Once the cheese is all stretchy and stringy and melty and delicious, we add just a touch of a creamy walnut-chive sauce that is super easy to make and that will keep in the fridge to augment all kinds of dishes. (I’ve tried it on pizza, bowls, lettuce wraps, as a dip for veggies or chips, etc. It was particularly delicious on kettle chips!) Finally, we smother the whole thing in a kale and carrot mixture that has been inoculated with thyme, sage, and basil. Trust me, you’ll want to make this one.
A couple notes about this recipe:
-This is far from a traditional Mac and Cheese, where pasta is nestled in a creamy sauce (that isn’t necessarily all that cheesy) and then baked. This recipe is cheesy, stretchy, and delicious – packed with flavor and a good dose of veggies too. It is hearty like traditional Mac and Cheese, but not heavy. And there is no baking involved!
-I use the Quinoa Harvest brand of gluten-free pasta when I make this. This pasta has only two ingredients: organic corn flour and organic quinoa flour. I find that it does a great job mimicking the taste and texture of regular pasta. I recommend cooking it in plenty of rapidly boiling salted water, adding a bit of oil when you add the pasta, and stirring occasionally.
-You can obviously make this dish with whatever brand of pasta is your personal favorite (whether it be gluten-free or gluten-laden). However, please note that this recipe calls for an 8 oz box of pasta, so if your pasta box is larger, remember to either scale up the recipe or only cook an 8 oz portion.
Kale Mac and Cheese
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 1/3 cups grated carrot
- 1 heaping teaspoon finely chopped fresh sage leaves
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon dried basil
- ¼ teaspoon celtic sea salt
- freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 1 bunch kale (mine was about 11 oz with stems), stripped from the stems.
- 1 cup grated manchego (mine was aged 3 months)
- ½ cup grated asiago
- ¼ cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
- 1 heaping tablespoon creamy walnut-chive sauce
- An 8 oz box of your favorite gluten-free pasta
Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Heavily salt the water: it should taste like tear drops. Add your stripped kale leaves to the pot (I chopped mine very roughly first just so they fit more easily) and boil vigorously for about a minute and a half, until tender but still chewy. Pile onto a plate and let stand until cool (the kale will cook a bit more from all the steam). Then, squeeze the kale between your fingers to drain off the excess water, and finely chop. (It will look sort of like frozen spinach at this point.) You should end up with about 1 cup of chopped kale.
Heat the oil in a medium skillet. Add the grated carrots and cook for 30 seconds to a minute; then add the sage, basil, thyme, salt, and pepper, and cook for about 2 minutes more. When the carrots are tender but still crunchy, add the chopped kale and cook about 1 minute more until the kale is nicely integrated with the carrot mixture.
Cook the pasta according to package directions. (While the pasta is cooking, be sure to grate your cheese so it’s ready to hit the hot pasta!) When the pasta is done, drain it quickly and then immediately return it to the pot. Add the cheese and mix until melted; then add the tablespoon of walnut-chive sauce, and finally, the carrot-kale mixture. Serve immediately.
Yield: ¾ cup
- ½ cup chopped chives
- ½ cup chopped walnuts
- 1/3 cup hemp seeds
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- ¼ cup + 3 tablespoons boiling water
- ½ teaspoon celtic sea salt
- freshly ground pepper, to taste
Combine all ingredients in a high-powered blender and blend until smooth. Keep in the fridge and use on pasta, pizza, veggie bowls, lettuce wraps, tacos, and as a dip for veggies and chips!
Note: For Low FODMAP, keep portion size to no more than 1/4 cup of sauce per sitting.