If a restaurant were to name a dish after you, what would it be? Describe it.
The other day, I was contemplating this question out loud to one of my best pals, and I thought the obvious answer here was “Macaroni and cheese.” I mean, Mac and Cheese even has its own Pinterest board totally separate from my regular food board.
But before I could even finish this thought, my friend shouted out, without a moment’s hesitation: NACHOS.
And I thought about it. I do love a good platter of nachos. Whether it’s just some melted cheese on tortilla chips, or a massive Macho Nacho chili platter from our college town diner, I do love nachos.
But I’m also a mac and cheese lover. I have made it from scratch a lot, even when I was dairy free. It wasn’t so hard. It’s even easier to make it gluten free.
You know what’s not easy?
Seeing mac and cheese on many restaurant menus and not being able to taste the goodness. That’s no fun.
I want to open my own mac and cheese restaurant. Who was I talking to about that? I don’t remember, probably because I say it a lot. But I do.
So what dish is the right one to answer this question?
Both. The answer is both. I give you Macho Nacho Mac and Cheese. Gluten free (you can use whatever “mac” you want), spicy, and of course, really cheesy. And yes, I had to make it and come up with a recipe, because I like to eat. And we needed something to do while watching Little Shop of Horrors.
You Will Need:
1 lb Quinoa pasta – I used brown rice because it’s all I had. But I like quinoa or quinoa pasta better because brown rice pasta really sucks up the sauce a little too much.
¾ cup (kind of. I eyeballed however much I wanted) Milk
Cheddar cheese & Pepper jack cheese – a block of each
2 tablespoons Butter (I used Earth Balance, actually)
2 tablespoons (or more as needed) Potato starch
¼ cup Onions
Salt and pepper
Ground beef or shredded chicken
Tortilla chips, ground
Lettuce, tomatoes, olives, and sour cream for toppings
The measurements are all approximate. I really don’t measure when I cook. Only when I bake. And you can see there are no measurements at all for the spices. That’s all a matter of personal taste. I will warn that you can probably do ¼ teaspoon OR LESS of the garlic powder, because it gets strong pretty fast.
My friend and parents said that this was really spicy, but I thought it could have used even more heat – so it’s all up to whoever makes this.
- Boil water and cook the pasta, but it should be super al dente, because it will finish cooking in the oven.
- For the sauce start by browning the onions in half of the butter in a separate pot, then remove the pot from the heat, add the rest of the butter and then add the milk. You just don’t want the pot to be too hot, otherwise the milk will scorch and get nasty. Then return the pot to a low heat to warm up again.
- Add the spices. Taste. Like? Great. Need more heat? Add some chili powder and cumin. That’s the Tex Mex flavor you’re looking for.
- Then, add the cheese and whisk until melted.
- Taste. Good? Keep going.
- Add the potato starch. It won’t thicken immediately, but stir it in to get rid of lumps and start the thickening process.
- Return the pasta to its own pot and then add the cheese sauce.
- Everything should start to thicken and look really cheesy.
- Pour into a pan (8×8 or so should be good) and top with extra cheddar cheese.
- Then put it in a 350 degree oven. I like to let it cook for about 10 minutes, and then broil until things start to bubble and get brown.
When it comes out of the oven, feel free to add whatever toppings you want on your nacho mac. We crushed up tortilla chips and that’s as far as we got. We were hungry.
And totally forgot about the sour cream and tomatoes that we had. Oops.
If you want to add ground beef or shredded chicken, you would just brown the meat with the onions until done, set the meat aside, mix the dairy, and then add the meat back in.
We only took one, really terrible picture. Because we were really hungry.
My friend and I eat. A lot.
This is not actually a problem, but I felt that I should admit it.