Feeding a gluten free family of five on a budget is no joke, even though I try to make witty remarks about allergy discrimination embedded in the pricing of our safe foods. Blah, blah, costs a lot to produce it in a dedicated facility, I get it. But $6 for a loaf of bread that is likely to have a hole in the center of it??? I digress.
So right here in the middle of April after a few wedding gift purchases, some birthdays, and meaningless resolves to not overdo it on spending for Easter (mostly on food), I find myself looking to stretch my grocery dollars thin for the second half of the month. Enter left over Easter ham. My generous hostess sister sent us home with a big bag of it, so tonight’s dinner brought us resurrected Easter ham featured in a favorite comfort food – mac and cheese.
Now dairy is an enemy of mine, so it is rarely invited to my cooking party. However, Cabot makes a really lovely sharp cheddar that is lactose free. . . I still take a dairy pill, as I fear dairy. I want to eat dairy without my pills as much as I’d like to take an unguarded lick of giardia or salmonella. So that is why this recipe features dairy alternatives with the cheese. I’m living on the edge here, people.
And so, I present to you a crowd pleasing Lactose Free Mac’n’Peas with Ham. All diners gave it a thumbs up – even the 7-year-old who is a mac’n’cheese purist (she won’t even put bacon on mac’n – BACON!?)
Preheat the oven to 350.
Boil a pot of water. Add 4 cups of gluten free noodles (I prefer to Go Go Quinoa red and white quinoa noodles from Costco). DO NOT overcook these bad boys. You will have mush casserole if you don’t strain and run cold water on these right after the earliest point of tenderness. It was about seven minutes for me.
Dice up what should amount to one cup of ham (You can use lunch meat if you have no fancy Easter ham around. Really, you can)
Put the ham and 1 cup of frozen peas in a 9×13 baking dish. Add the cooled noodles. Mix it all up.
In a microwave safe bowl combine 1 cup of your preferred milk (I used Silk’s new protein nutmilk. It’s creaminess is SO great for the dairy free) with 3 tablespoons of your preferred GF flour (Gluten Free Mama’s Almond Blend for me). Add 1/2 teaspoon salt. Whisk the heck out of it. Then put it in the microwave for 2 minutes.
During those two minutes, grate yourself about 1 cup of that cheese (for the completely dairy free, the Diaya cheese shreds will work nicely)
It will look seriously weird when you take it out. Fear not. Whisk on. Then add 3 tablespoons of dairy free butter to it (I used Earth Balance). Whisk some more. Microwave for 1 minute. Whisk what might again resemble a clumpy science project. Allergy safe cooking is not always pretty. Then ditch the whisk and use a big spoon to combine the cheese into the sauce. The cheese should melt and begin to look like an edible sauce. Pour the white sauce into the baking dish and stir until it is all evenly dispersed over the noodles, ham, and peas. Bake for 20 minutes or until the top looks bubbly.
This white sauce is a great base for all sorts of dishes. If you are up for whisking, you can impress many and experiment with creative variations.