A year or so ago I invented this pasta recipe which I like to refer to as “grown-up mac and cheese.” I was looking for a way to make a kid-friendly food a little healthier. Skipping a sauce made with a roux and full fat milk, I used cooked veggies as the base for the sauce to add the cheese.
Our chef, David Smith, played with the recipe some more adding a little milk and a pepita topping. Feel free to make changes, such as adding “hidden veggies” to the sauce (I recommend cauliflower) and trying a variety of pastas such as whole wheat, brown rice, or quinoa. Once the pasta and sauce is mixed, you could even stir in a healthy dose of leafy greens before baking, such as baby spinach or Swiss chard.
- 1 1/2 cups elbow macaroni, dry
- 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds (pepitas), roasted
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup chopped onion
- 1/2 cup grated carrots
- 1/4 cup chopped celery
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1/4 cup skim milk
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 cup cheddar cheese
- Pre-cook pasta until aldente and set aside in baking pan.
- Crumb pumpkins seeds in food processor and set aside.
- Sautee onion, garlic, carrots, and celery in olive oil until soft.
- Add sauted vegetables, milk, salt, and pepper to blender and puree.
- Add shredded cheese to this vegetable mixture and pulse a few times to mix in.
- Stir vegetable-cheese mixture into pasta and then top entire pan with pepitas.
- Bake in oven at 400 for about 15 minutes or until golden on top.
Do you add vegetables to mac and cheese at home? Which veggies do you think work well in mac and cheese?