Powdered macaroni and cheese: The saving grace of many a flustered parent’s dinnertime hustle. Boil water, cook noodles, rip open a packet of orange fairy dust, swirl with milk, and voila! A five-minute meal that sates even the pickiest eater.
Until now. A new study of 30 cheese products has detected high concentrations of phthalates in those handy, highly processed cheese powders in boxed mac and cheese mixes. (Yep, even organic ones.)
Phthalates, according to the study, can disrupt male hormones like testosterone and are linked to genital defects in infant boys and learning and behavior issues in bigger kids. All of which sound far worse than some fussing over dinner.
Don’t disrupt your kids’ dinnertime routine just yet, though. Here is an easy recipe recently featured in the Globe that you can make at home.
|Salt and white pepper, to taste|
|1||pound elbow, shells, or penne pasta|
|¼||cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter|
|¼||cup (4 tablespoons) flour|
|Pinch of nutmeg|
|Pinch of cayenne pepper|
|1½||cups grated sharp cheddar|
|⅓||cup grated pecorino romano cheese|
|½||cup grated Parmesan|
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook, stirring often, for 8 minutes or until the pasta is tender but still has some bite. Dip a heatproof measuring cup into the pasta water and remove 1 cup. Drain the pasta into a colander. Do not rinse it; return it to the pot.
2. Meanwhile, in small saucepan, warm the milk gently.
3. In another saucepan over low heat, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour; it will be like wet sand. Add the warm milk, whisking constantly. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and cook, whisking, for 2 minutes or until the sauce thickens; remove from the heat. Stir in the nutmeg, cayenne, and white pepper. Add the cheddar, Gruyere, and romano cheeses; stir until the cheeses melt. Taste for seasoning and add salt, if you like.
4. Pour the cheese mixture into the cooked pasta. Add enough of the pasta cooking water to make a loose consistency. Spoon into bowls and sprinkle with Parmesan.
Adapted from Full Moon
Kara Baskin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.