Macaroni and “Cheese”

Macaroni and “Cheese”

Last year for my birthday a friend of mine got me a membership to CostCo. I was stoked! So, one day after work, I walked over to the CostCo in Spanish Harlem with my grocery list…

As it turns out, there are a few things you’re apparently supposed to know before you shop here.

1. You don’t get to choose whether or not you buy in bulk.

2. There are no shopping bags at the checkout register. Instead, you have to shove your groceries into oversized boxes (super convenient when you’re in Spanish Harlem trying to commute back to the Upper West Side via the 1 train).

3. Save your receipt!! They “thoroughly” check you haven’t stolen anything by quickly swiping a black marker over your receipt, essentially covering every item with black ink so neither you nor the employee can read what was on it.

As a small business owner, I realized I was never going to obtain my entire list of groceries at this massive warehouse. One of the items I needed on this particular trip was Dijon mustard to whip up a salad dressing. I needed 2 tbsp…. TWO TABLESPOONS!! The Dijon mustard they sell at CostCo comes in 2, 100 oz bottles of mustard essentially glued together…

I told my friend about my horrible experience and she insisted I go with her so she could show me how to “CostCo.” So I did, and as it turns out, she was right. I was doing it all wrong!

Now whenever I go, I make sure to shop solely for bulk items that I can either freeze; or dried goods that I can keep in the pantry. (For example, the oversized 3 lb tub of coffee that I bought 4 months ago and am only just now able to see the bottom of.)

You may remember last month when I reorganized my kitchen in my tomato tilapia post. My “inventory” showed me that I had a humongous CostCo sized box of dried pasta shells that had been in my pantry for who knows how long.

Which was perfect because I’d been dying to make a cheese-less macaroni and cheese recipe.

Huh?

If you’re scratching your head in confusion, don’t be ashamed. I did the same thing when I first heard of this conundrum. It was actually a friend from culinary school who first offered me a taste of this mac and “cheese.” (Shout out Danielle!) Being a cheese lover myself, I would’ve never have thought of going without it. But I realize that some of us can’t eat dairy—so here you go!

Yields: 8 cups

Stove Time:  20 minutes | Oven Time: 15 minutes | Total Time: 35 minutes

Ingredients: 

1 sweet potato, peeled and cubed

16 oz pasta shells

½ cup fat free milk

¼ cup nutritional yeast

¼ tsp garlic powder

1 tsp mustard

2 tbsp applesauce

3 tbsp bread crumbs

1.    Bring a large pot of water to boil.

2.    Preheat oven to 450°.

3.    Meanwhile, place cubed sweet potatoes in cold water and bring to a boil. Continue to cook until easily able to pierce with a fork ~10-12 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool.

4.    Add pasta shells to boiling water and cook per package instructions for al dente shells. Cooking time will vary depending on what type of shells you choose, mine took ~9 minutes.

5.    While pasta is cooking, add milk, yeast, garlic powder, mustard, and applesauce to potatoes. With an immersion blender or food processor, blend until smooth.

6.    Drain pasta and add to “cheese.” Place in an oven safe dish and top with breadcrumbs. Bake X ~10-15 minutes or until top starts to brown.

The Cook’s 2 Cents:

·      I used cow’s milk, but obviously if you are making this because you can’t have dairy, you can substitute soy milk, Lactaid, almond milk, etc.

·     Nutritional yeast is a good substitute for cheese, it’s got that salty/tangy flavor that cheese has. Obviously not the same thing, but it works. It’s easy to find in most grocery stores. I tried this recipe both with and without and I liked it better with the yeast.

·      I find that an immersion blender works better than a food processor. It really purees the potatoes so they are smoother.

·      I know applesauce is a weird additive for macaroni and cheese, but the yeast has a strong flavor and the sweetness of the applesauce kind of tames it a bit.

Nutrition Facts:

Servings Per Recipe: 8

Serving Size: 1 cup

Calories: 252               Fat: 1g             Sodium: 39mg            Carbs: 49g      Fiber: 3g                      Sugars: 4g                   Protein: 10g

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