It was late at night and I was scrolling through YouTube when found this video of Terry Crews in Buzzfeed making his family’s famous mac and cheese. I just had to click it because it looks good and cheesy. Boy! Let me tell you, this was one of the times when I craved the cheesy and gooey good ‘ol mac and cheese!
I knew at some point I needed to recreate this classic into a healthy and guilt-free recipe. In the kitchen I went and cooked the perfect mac and cheese with the right consistency, texture, saltiness, and gooeyness without feeling sick and ashamed of myself. I hope you enjoy the concoction that I made.
The ingredients and tools used for this recipe can be prepared in around 30 minutes. The cooking time would be at most 45 minutes. Just don’t burn yourself and remember to not keep the stove on. We don’t want any accidents here! In total, the time needed for this baked goodness is approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Quinoa Mac and Cheese
- 2 pounds broccoli or cauliflower chopped into small pieces
- 1/4 cup nuts (any kind will do, I prefer cashew)
- 1/4 cup almond milk
- ⅛ tsp paprika salt & pepper
- 1.5 cup grated cheese (any kind will do; follow your gut!)
- 4-5 cup quinoa
- 1/4 cup chopped rosemary
- 1 tsp homemade ranch
- Greek yogurt
- Pinch of garlic and onion powders
- 2 tsp dried dill weed
- Prepare all the ingredients and tools you need on hand. First, you must preheat the oven to 195°C. Afterwards, spray cooking oil or grease up the pan with an oiled-up paper towel. Put it aside. Remember to add a generous amount of oil when doing this as this will be used not until later.
- The second big step is to wash and boil the chopped broccoli or cauliflower pieces for around 10-15 minutes. We don’t want these veggies to be too mushy. We want to feel the crispy, yet chewy texture in every bite.
- After boiling for a couple of minutes, remove the vegetables from the pot, then transfer it to a blender. dd nuts, 1/4 cup of almond milk, *homemade ranch dressing, and spices. Blend them together until smooth and creamy. To help with the texture, you may add more almond milk — 1 tablespoon at each time until you are satisfied with the feel of the mixture. Put aside. This paste or mixture will be your sauce used later.
- *For the homemade ranch, just mix the greek yogurt, water, garlic, onion powders, and 2 teaspoons of dried dill weed in a small jar or container. Let it sit for 5 minutes to allow the flavors to enhance.
- Third, cook the quinoa. You can cook it in a rice cooker, but it is best to do it on a stovetop. Place the quinoa into simmering water (not cold water!). We don’t want it to sit in cold water and destroy the water-to-grain ratio. Otherwise, it will taste soggy and your mac and cheese will suck! We don’t want that now, do we?
- Cover the stovetop with the lid and let it cook for 15 minutes. Do not open the lid to check from time to time. Doing so will release too much steam and harden the quinoa.
- For a tender batch, let it sit out with the lid still on for another 20 minutes. It is optional to prepare this first before actually cooking this recipe. It can save up time or you can just follow this recipe as is. It’s your choice!
- Fourth, place the cooked quinoa in a large mixing bowl. I know this is your favorite part as well: mixing them all of these together! Pour the sauce we’ve made in Step 2 over the quinoa. Add 1 cup of cheese of your choice.
- You may also add some of the almond milk if it’s too thick for you. Stir all of these ingredients up. You may add more cheese to your liking. Now, add in the chopped rosemary. Don’t forget to sprinkle some on top!
I couldn’t find an alternative to replace the cheese so I kept it in this recipe for a good reason also. The nutrition and taste of cheese depend on how it is made and what milk was used during processing. While some are scared that cheese is high in fat, sodium, and calories, it is rich in protein, calcium, and other nutrients in the right amount.
It is great to mix in a couple of cheeses to try and make an explosion of a cheesy wonderland dish. Some examples you can mix in the bunch could be mozzarella, feta, cottage cheese, and ricotta. What makes this recipe great and perfect for the whole family is that the quinoa, which is not typically served in Eastern countries, makes it a healthy alternative to elbow pasta. You won’t be guilty ever again of serving this treat to your kids late at night! Enjoy!