Veggie Mac & Cheese
1 lb dried pasta, bowtie, elbows or other small pasta, preferably whole grain
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 pound cauliflower and/or broccoli florets, finely diced *see note for tips on other veggie ideas
1 bunch kale or spinach, about 12 ounces, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
Red pepper flakes, to taste
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1 3/4 cup grated cheese **see note for tips on cheese combinations
Salt and pepper, to taste
3 tablespoon mixed fresh herbs, finely chopped, or 1 ½ teaspoons dried, such as rosemary, thyme, oregano (optional)
Optional Breadcrumb Topping:
3 tablespoons olive oil, or melted butter
1 cup panko or other bread crumbs
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add several pinches of salt then add pasta and cook until al dente, about 1 to 2 minutes before perfect doneness. Drain and set aside.
- Heat a large skillet to medium-high heat. Once hot, add olive oil. Add onion and cook until translucent, about 2 minutes. Then add garlic and the rest of the vegetables, season it with salt and pepper flakes and sauté until tender. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
- If adding bread crumb topping, preheat your broiler.
- To make the cheese sauce, heat a medium-large pot over medium heat. Add butter. Once completely melted, add flour and whisk quickly until the mixture is shiny and resembles a loose paste. Add milk, a small splash at a time, whisking constantly. Let the mixture simmer for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add cheese in several additions, combining each addition completely before adding the next. Remove pan from heat and stir in mixed herbs. Adjust seasoning to taste.
- Off the heat, add drained pasta and the vegetable mixture stirring to combine. Serve as is, or see next step for broiling instructions.
- Pour Mac & Cheese into a 9×13 baking dish. To make topping, stir breadcrumbs into oil or melted butter. Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the top of the macaroni and cheese. Broil for 5 minutes, then allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving.
*There are plenty of options of vegetable combinations for Veggie Mac & Cheese! Here are three of our favorite adaptations on this recipe.
- Squash: Substitute 1lb diced squash for broccoli. Roast at 400 degrees until it’s tender and mix it in during step 5.
- Frozen peas: Follow package instructions to thaw peas, then add during step 5.
- Frozen spinach: Thaw according to package instructions and drain it well before sauteeing in step 3.
**Our favorite cheese combination is a mix of 3/4 cup parmesan and 1 cup cheddar, but any combination of meltable cheese will work.