Keto Mac & Cheese (with Palmini Noodles)

Macaroni and cheese is a childhood favorite–and this palmini version is low in carbs and a synch to put together. You can add tuna for a delicious tuna noodle dish, or some fresh cooked brussel sprouts, even cooked broccolini! Here I used a smokey sausage. OMG, its creamy, soothing and full of that cheese flavor that never came out of a blue box! This is a quick, satisfying dish, good for a cold winter’s evening. It’s a total of 15 net carbs, so if you’re dead set on staying under 20 net carbs for the day, it might be a bit of a stretch for you. If you’re doing 30-40 carbs, it’s completely worth it.

Palmini Noodles as a Staple

I bought a case of the palmini noodles. It felt like an investment, but wow. They are a super-simple time-saver. There other advantage is that they give me a break from the meat-and-two-veg quality of the keto meal rotation. Sure, keto eating is good, but one does miss pasta!

Palmini come in 14 oz cans and since 2 or 3 ounces is a good serving (at about 2 net carbs), 14 ounces makes for several meals. I take them out of the can, drain them well, rinse them in water and put them in a plastic, sealed container, covered in milk. This way, they can soak for a day or two til I get around to making something noodley.

I need meals I can assemble quickly. I have a tendency to work too late and come home tired. Fighting DC traffic every day is like holding a second job. Going home late often means less traffic, so at least two days a week, I’m hitting the door at 7 pm or later. Pre-soaked palmini noodles means all I have to do is boil them up, pair them with a sauce and a protein, maybe adds some keto-friendly veggies and there we go!

Six year on a low-carb diet –and mac and cheese sounded like heaven.

The Recipe

This recipe paired a smokey maple sausage (Trader Joe’s Maple Bourbon Sausage) with a lovely sharp cheddar cream sauce. Fast, simple and filling, this was perfect for a late supper. This recipe is a meal for one, but if making this for more than one person, it can be easily doubled. Add three to six ounces of noodles and just double the sauce ingredients. The concept is simple: make a cream sauce, add herbs and cheese. Pair with pasta and a protein.

The Ingredients

  • 3 ounces of palmini noodles, soaked in milk for at least 20 minutes (I soak them overnight in milk in a sealed container in the fridge), drained.
  • 3/4 cup of heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup chopped onions
  • 1 tablespoons of butter
  • fresh or dried thyme (about 1/2 a teaspoon.)
  • 1 clove of crushed garlic (I used frozen crushed garlic)
  • 1 cup of shredded sharp cheddar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • slices of fried sausage (I used just one)

The Directions

Step 1. Boil the noodles for ten minutes. While these are cooking, you can make the sauce. Boiling the noodles for this long a time substantially alters their texture, making them much more like pasta and less like a vegetable.

Step 2. Melt the butter in a saucepan.

Step 3. Add the onions and garlic to the sizzling butter. Let those cook for about three minutes.

Step 4. Add the heavy cream to the saucepan. Bring it to a boil and turn the heat down. Start whisking to incorporate the butter and the cream.

Step 5. Add the dried or fresh thyme, salt and pepper. Stir it around. Keep the heat low.

Step 6. Add the shredded cheddar cheese, whisking it in so that it melts and incorporates into a thickened, cheesy sauce.

Step 7. When the noodles are done, drain them and them in a bowl. Ladle on the cheese sauce. Add the protein (in this case, the fried sausage slices).

The Results

This was one of the best uses for the palmini noodles yet. The cheese sauce is very flavorful and softens and coats the noodles so that they are a very close match to wheat-based noodle products. Sharp cheddar is best in this, paired with the smokey sausage slices. I can see having this with kielbasa, as well!

The Carby Facts

  • Heavy cream, 5 net carbs
  • 3 ounces of palmini noodles, 2 net carbs
  • Cheddar cheese, 5 net carbs
  • Onions, 3 net carbs
  • The rest have less than 1 net carb per

That’s 15 net carbs for this dish. As you can see, it’s the heavy cream that provides most of the carbs–and surprisingly, the cheese isn’t “free” either. I was shocked. I based this recipe on a keto cheese sauce that said it was ONE net carb. OOPS. You know, I KNEW that it couldn’t be 1 carb, but I had no idea I’d be so far off. Heavy whipping cream has less that one net carb per serving–and a serving is once ounce. When you kick that up to SIX ounces, well then. The math gets real. 😦

You can slim this down by substituting onion powder for the onion (but you would also lose the fiber). You could also reduce the amount of cream. In future, I am going to see about using protein powder and water–and reducing the amount of cream, to see if I can get this dish under 11 carbs! We’ll call this the “holiday” version. The good news for me? I had only had five carbs all day, so I kept my carb intake sufficiently low! Win!

Author: Lola

Recovering academic, real-life, honest to cornflakes anthropologist (Ph.D. and fieldwork and everything), tech-head and social media researcher.

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