I’m going to start out by being absolutely upfront about the fact that the best food on the planet is cheese. I would be 100% content with eating only buffala mozzarella for the rest of my life. Obese, but content. I mean, what would pizza, pasta, sandwiches and charcuterie be without cheese? Incomplete. They would be incomplete.
What’s second to a freshly knotted ball of creamy mozzarella? A beautifully homemade ooey-gooey cheese sauce. And with that revelation, the macaroni and cheese was brought into existence. I’m not talking about that pre-packaged, loaded in sodium, and dyed orange by Chuckie Cheese himself Kraft Dinner bullsh*t. I’m talking about that butter, flour, milk, paprika and a bowl of freshly grated aged cheddar thrown-into-a-pot-on-your-own-stove kind of cheese sauce.
If you haven’t challenged yourself to making your own yet, in the words of Billy Madison, I double dog dare ya. It really isn’t hard. I know we’ve all had that devastating experience as kids. The one where we tried to melt cheese in the microwave in hopes of it becoming perfectly creamy (like in the commercials), only to end up with a dishwasher’s worst nightmare. Put your past behind you everyone. It’s time.
Now, since too much cheese tends to have very negative side effects (note: Rob Ford), adding macaroni to the mix only doubles that calorie intake, and thus decreases the amount of Mac n’ Cheese consumed in Canada (this is not a fact). Not to mention, if pasta isn’t fresh, it’s a waste of money. Don’t try and fight me on that one, you will lose.
So, this past weekend I challenged the tubular shaped macaroni market and decided to replace it with zucchini? WTF? Yes i know, zucchini in the shape of macaroni. It’s preposterous. It even took the man in Williams Sonoma a few minutes to understand that I wasn’t “spiralling” my zucchini into fettucini ribbons, but literally was going to cut it into macaroni shapes. He laughed at me. I gave him the stink eye.
After I proved successful once again, I was going to bring the silly Willy Sonoma man a bowl of my masterpiece so that he could praise the f*ck out of me. I quickly realized I could care less and went on adventurous with Bianca instead. Priorities.
Basically all I made is a deliciously thick sauce with some veggies hidden within. The plus side is that since the zucchini looks like macaroni, I don’t feel as bad about the fact that I am basically stuffing my face with melted cheese. *sigh* At least it’s not Cheese Whiz. How is that stuff even still allowed to be manufactured? Really though, this recipe takes Man N’ Cheese to a whole new level because it is HEALTHY -ish. The carbs are non- existent, zucchini is good for you, and the sauce is made from fresh ingredients. It could even be organic. Whoa.
You can replace the Zucchini with Butternut squash, or eggplant even, but I like the taste of zucchini the best. It’s too hard (embarrassing) to explain how I got the zucchini into macaroni pieces, so i’m just going to post a visual tutorial to avoid the ruthless chirps that will ensue.
- 8 oz. (1/2 pound or about 1¾ cups) zucchini tubes or ribbons or squares (whatever) or other medium tubular pasta
- 3 tablespoons butter
- ¼ cup flour
- ½ teaspoon dry mustard
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon smoked paprika plus more for sprinkling on top (this ingredient is clutch)
- 2½ cups of 2% milk
- 3 cups grated medium cheddar cheese (don’t be a scavenger with this, you really do need 3 cups or else the sauce wont be creamy)
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees
Step 1: In a separate sauce pan, melt the butter, add flour, dry mustard, pepper, and paprika stirring constantly (for about 2 min) until it creates a roux
Step 2: Stir in your milk and whisk for 10 minutes making sure all clumps are gone and it thickens up nicely
Step 3: Remove from heat, add 2 cups of cheese and stir until melted
VISUAL TUTORIAL FOR ZUCCHINI TUBES (AKA Zack):
ZACK AND CHEESE:
Step 1: lightly blanche / steam your veggie tubes. NOTE: You only need to steam them until they get bright green (like 5 minutes), or else they will get too soft and will fall apart.
Step 2: Once the cheese sauce is done, pour half your veggie tubes into casserole dish, cover with half of the cheese sauce, then more veggie tubes, then more cheese sauce.
Step 3: Sprinkle the top with the rest of the cheese and a pinch of paprika & pepper.
Step 4: Bake for 20-25 minutes or until you can’t wait anymore.