Gwyneth Paltrow has become a polarizing figure in many ways. I don’t really have a dog in any of those races. Where Gwyneth and I cross paths is in the kitchen. Her cookbook, My Father’s Daughter, Delicious, Easy Recipes Celebrating Family & Togetherness, is one of my favorites. (In fact, when I recently downsized my living space, hers is one of the few cookbooks I brought with me (out of a rather large personal library).)
This book satisfies on so many levels. It’s the perfect combination of name dropping, anecdotes, and recipes that work and are easy to accomplish. (One of my guilty pleasures is celebrity gossip. Safari can autofill people.com, let’s just leave it at that.)
And so, here (call it healing #2), ironically, is a recipe for macaroni and cheese. Specifically GP’s Mac and cheese. A word before we dive in: I enjoy Mac and cheese well enough. But all that orange cheese or wettish sauce has made our relationship hit or miss, and generally I feel if I’m investing in a thousand calories, I’d rather have something else. Capisce?
So when reading My Father’s Daughter, I noticed that GP’s recipe calls for mascarpone and Parmesan – nothing orange (Wisconsin or otherwise). Intrigued, I gave it a whirl. And, dear reader, we’ve been dancing ever since.
The recipe as written is good, but I found the flavor a touch…delicate. (GP includes several options for jazzing it up.) So I typically make the following tweaks:
- Rice pasta instead of traditional elbows
- Cream instead of milk
- Crushed rice cereal instead of bread crumbs for the topping
- Add caramelized shallots
- For fun, add browned, diced bacon (because with the cheese and cream, more is more, right?)
Note: I’m not 100% gluten-free, but I avoid it when I can. In this dish, trust me, when it’s all done, you cannot tell that you’re not eating standard pasta and breadcrumbs. It’s delicious.
So here you go – take Gwyneth’s Mac and cheese out for a turn. You don’t always have to dance with the one what brung ya’. It’s a recipe you’ll come back to. Enjoy!
Macaroni and cheese Adapted from a recipe by Gwyneth Paltrow
Rub a baking dish bottom and sides with butter (to get a nice crust all around)
1 lb. rice pasta (I use Trader Joe’s brown rice and quinoa), boiled a few minutes shy of al dente
1 c. packed shredded Parmesan
8 oz mascarpone
1/2 c. cream
Pinch of nutmeg (genius on GP’s part!)
Sea salt and pepper to taste
1-2 medium shallots, diced and caramelized in butter
1/3 c. browned diced bacon (optional)
1/2 c. shredded parmesan
1/3 c. crushed plain rice cereal
2 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted
Combine the mascarpone, 1 cup of parmesan, nutmeg and cream in saucepan and melt together over medium heat. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Stir the sauce into cooked pasta in a large bowl. Add caramelized shallots and bacon (if using), and stir to combine. Pour into baking dish.
Combine ½ cup Parmesan with rice cereal and sprinkle over top. Drizzle with melted butter.
Bake in a 350 oven for 20 minutes. Cool slightly and enjoy with a mustardy frisee salad.