This is the last of the gluten-free posts -- at least for a while. I still have a few random GF products laying around my pantry, but as they're just some standard bags of rice pasta, I'm not too worried about how they'll turn out. Anyway, when I cover them with homemade marinara sauce, it won't matter much how the pasta tastes anymore.
While the other GF products I bought were from Bob's Red Mill, this fun little snack is from Annie's, a popular purveyor of GF and health food products of all kinds. And while I'm naturally inclined to love anything that has a "rabbit seal of approval," I was still wary after the pancake incident.
As with regular boxed macaroni and cheese, the Annie's version calls for roughly the same preparation and ingredients: boil the pasta, drain it, add the powdered cheese (in Annie's case, it's "real" cheese -- sorry about the quotation marks, but the instant that something is reduced to a powder, I question how "real" it is anymore), milk and butter, mix and serve.
As with the gold standard (Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, in case there was any question about it), the pasta cooked relatively quickly and the sauce mixed up easily. When I was a kid, the greatest treat in our house was when my mother would make tuna mac: Kraft Macaroni & Cheese with a can of tuna and some frozen peas all mixed together. (Hey, we were really poor.) After tasting the Annie's GF mac & cheese, I imagined that the dish could benefit greatly from the addition of some tuna and peas -- anything, really, to enhance the almost nonexistant taste of the very bland cheese sauce.
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Interestingly, in this case, it wasn't the actual GF piece of the food puzzle that was bad. The pasta was thick, larger than Kraft pieces, and had a pleasant texture. It was the non-GF piece that stultified: the boring cheese sauce. That aside, the people who'll be purchasing Annie's mac & cheese mix will likely be purchasing it for small children who don't know any better and don't care. So with that in mind, it's certainly a good alternative for GF families whose kids still crave a box of mac & cheese and whose parents crave something quick and easy to whip up on busy weeknights.