Hi, friends! It’s the big week! It’s the Superbowl of food holidays! Do you have your stretchy pants on? This is not a drill.
By now, so so many of you have the latest issue of Joy the Baker Magazine and it is my great hope that you have the mac and cheese page earmarked for Thanksgiving dinner. This is our family mac and cheese I’ve adapted from my dad. I add a hint of chili powder for smokiness and pepper jack cheese for a little kick of spice. But here’s the thing – Thanksgiving is all about welcoming the whole fam-dam AND their dietary restrictions to the table. In our family, when we’re all together, we watch our sodium intake. We want to watch our sodium without sacrificing any of the flavor in the dishes we bring to the table so we always have Dash Seasoning in the kitchen.
Today’s recipe offering is my family’s creamy mac and cheese made with less sodium and loads of flavor using Dash Garlic & Herb Seasoning. Friends – it’s SO GOOD: savory, full of flavor, bright and satisfying. Salt who? Let’s spice things up without adding salt!
Here’s what you’ll need for this low sodium mac and cheese recipe:
• Dash Garlic & Herb Seasoning as a flavorful substitute to salt.
• unsalted butter and flour to create a light roux to thicken the cream sauce.
• cheddar cheese and pepper jack cheese. I like a mix of flavors.
• elbow macaroni or pasta shells.
• panko breadcrumbs and sliced tomatoes to top.
AND! Here’s another Thanksgiving sides you can make with Dash Seasoning: Creamy Smoked Gouda Brussels Sprouts
We’ll start by making a very light roux. In a heavy bottom saucepan whisk together melted butter and flour.
Whisk until no pesky flour lumps remain and the flour has toasted to the most pale tan color – that will ensure that any dusty flour taste has cooked off.
Slowly stream in the milk, whisking constantly. The flour will instantly absorb the milk but just keep a steady stream and whisk and the mixture will smooth out to a velvety cream sauce.
Our cream sauce needs FLAVOR!
Add fresh cracked black pepper, chili powder, garlic powder and a few good teaspoon of Dash Garlic & Herb Seasoning. We’re adding all of the flavor and none of the sodium to this creamy mac and cheese base.
Once the cream sauce has simmered a bit and thickened, add heaps of shredded cheese.
I like a mix of cheese. Sharp cheddar paired with pepper jack cheese is my absolute favorite though I always have a place in my heart for Gruyere. You can’t go wrong!
Stir until the cheese is melted through. Give the sauce a taste and season with more chili powder and Dash Garlic & Herb Seasoning if you’d prefer.
Now it’s time for the macaroni!
I boil the pasta until just al dente – that’ means it still has a tiny bit of a crisp bite to it. The pasta will continue to soften as it absorbs all the creamy flavor from the cheese sauce.
Set the mac and cheese aside and let’s toast the breadcrumbs.
Melt unsalted butter in a small skillet and add panko breadcrumbs, fresh cracked black pepper and Dash Garlic & Herb Seasoning.
I like to transfer my mac and cheese to a cast iron skillet because it creates the most irresistible crispy edges when it comes out of the oven.
Top the mac and cheese with toasted breadcrumbs, sliced tomatoes, and a sprinkle more of Dash Garlic & Herb Seasoning.
Bake until the mac and cheese is bubbling around the edges and the tomatoes have soften and caramelized. Scoop in generous servings at the Thanksgiving table. Don’t expect there to be leftovers – this dish ranks high as a Thanksgiving side dish.Print
For the Cheese Sauce:
- 3 cups whole milk
- ½ cup (1 stick, 113 grams) unsalted butter
- ½ cup (63 grams) all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons Dash Garlic & Herb Seasoning
- ½ teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 ½ cups (155 grams) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- ½ cup (50 grams) shredded gruyere or pepper jack cheese
To Assemble the Mac:
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 cup (65 grams) panko bread crumbs
- 1 teaspoon Dash Garlic & Herb Seasoning and a few cracks of fresh cracked black pepper
- ¾ pound (340 grams) elbow macaroni
- 2 tomatoes, thinly sliced
- To make the cheese sauce, in a large pot, melt butter over medium heat. Once melted, add the flour and whisk constantly until the mixture turns light brown, about 3 minutes. Lower heat to low.Slowly pour in milk 1 cup at a time, whisking constantly. The mixture will begin to thicken once the first cup is added, but will thin out as all of the milk is added.
- Return pot to medium heat and whisk constantly for 2 to 3 minutes as the sauce thickens. Sauce will become silky and thick. To test the thickness, dip a metal spoon into the sauce. If the sauce coats the spoon and doesn’t look translucent or slide off the spoon like milk, it’s done. Stir in salt, pepper, garlic and chili powder
- Remove from heat. Stir in cheddar and gruyere or pepper jack cheese. Stir until cheese is melted and thoroughly combined. Taste and season accordingly with salt and pepper.
- Cook the pasta in salted boiling water until al dente. Drain well and add the cooked pasta to the warm sauce. Transfer the mac and cheese to a 10-inch cast iron skillet or similar oven safe dish. Place a rack in the oven and preheat oven tot 375 degrees F.
- While the oven preheats, melt 2 tablespoons butter in a small skillet. Add bread crumbs and toast to just golden. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Sprinkle bread crumbs over the mac and cheese and top with tomato slices. Gently season the tomato slices with salt and pepper before baking. Bake for 18-20 minutes until the edges are bubbling and the tomatoes have begun to roast and wrinkle. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for just a few minutes before serving. Any leftovers can be refrigerated and warmed for up to 5 days. immediately, or place in an oven proof dish for easy re-heating and serving. Top with toasted breadcrumbs just before serving.