While shopping at our mainstream grocery store here (Publix) I came across the Kraft Macaroni & Cheese Cheese Topping. Since Kraft always lists gluten in all forms in their ingredient labels, I carefully read the ingredients and sure enough – no gluten was listed. The container says to sprinkle the topping on fish sticks, potato chips, baked potatoes, chicken nuggets, hot popcorn and vegetables. It also suggests stirring the topping into chili, soup, rice, scrambled eggs, grits and mashed potatoes.
The product does not say to use the topping for pasta, but that is the only thing I was interested in it for. Obviously, the average consumer would just buy the Mac-n-Cheese dinner kit instead of using this topping to make mac-n-cheese. Not being an average consumer, I threw the container into the basket and hoped for the best.
About two years ago, someone told me about this topping and said they used it to make gluten-free mac-n-cheese but the ingredients back then included MSG. Though MSG is gluten-free, I avoid it for other reasons. I’m not sure if other ingredients in the product have changed but for sure no MSG is listed on the label now. It’s so exciting to see both gluten and in many cases MSG disappearing from food labels these days!
Our standard macaroni pasta these days is the Andean Dream brand. The pasta is pretty much the texture of wheat pasta and the taste is also excellent. We have found it to be the only pasta that is edible cold and use it in pasta salad. Others report that corn pasta works for pasta salad, but a close second to Andean Dream for us (for cold pasta) is the Ancient Harvest quinoa/corn blend.
I was flying blind making mac-n-cheese with the Kraft Cheese Topping since I had no idea how much of the powder to add to the pasta. After draining the cooked macaroni, I added a few tablespoons of milk and two tablespoons of butter. Then I shook a little Cheese Topping into the pan and mixed it all up. It wasn’t really orange enough looking so I added a little more powder. I set the pasta aside while I finished cooking pan seared chicken. After thinking that I might have added a little too much milk to the mac-n-cheese, it ended up being the perfect consistency. The terrific news is that the taste of the dish was pretty close to the regular Kraft mac-n-cheese dinner. Both the gluten eater in the house and I thought a little more Cheese Topping would have made the pasta perfect, but it was very good as served.
One of the reasons I was wary about adding too much of the Kraft cheesy type powder to the pasta was that it has a LOT of sodium in it. If the dish was too salty, it would still pass my taste test but the gluten eater in the house would not like it. For whatever reason, the powder isn’t very salty tasting, regardless of the sodium content. I could have added a third more powder to the dish and it would have been just fine.
The next day I took the left overs and heated them up and added about a teaspoon of the Cheese Topping. It was just like the mac-n-cheese of my youth – perfect! We will be using this to great mac-n-cheese for the occasional side dish and to make our Tuna casserole from now on. Mrs. Leepers gluten-free mac-n-cheese dinner is pretty good but the gluten eater thought it was way too salty so that led to this latest experiment for easy mac-n-cheese.
If you have a gluten-free pasta you like and find the Kraft Cheese Topping in your store, make sure and give this easy dish a try. That is of course, if you used to enjoy the Kraft Mac-n-Cheese dinner when you ate gluten. If not, then this dish isn’t for you because it pretty much taste like the version made from the famous dark blue box!