Macaroni and Cheese will forever be one of those dishes that I will burn the roof of my mouth on. Unable to wait until it’s cooled enough to handle, I always have to complete my “quality control” while the edges are still bubbling and the cheese is piping hot. This healthier version was no exception. It’s packed it with broccoli and cauliflower florets and topped with some crispy breadcrumbs to give the dish some great texture, vibrancy, and overall feel-goodness.
For the amount of people this dish serves it’s low in the overall amount of cheese and milk, making it still feel indulgent while not weighing you down. If you want a little pizzazz, use truffle oil in lieu of olive oil for the breadcrumbs. Makes the dish feel like a weekday extravagance that we can all get behind. I would recommend using 1% up to 3.25% milk for this recipe. You add a lot of water in addition to the milk and skim just won’t cut it.
This dish is freezer-friendly, which is great since it makes a lot. I would recommend wrapping it a couple of times in plastic wrap before freezing and consuming within 3 months. Leave to defrost overnight in the fridge and reheat at 375° F until warmed through and edges are bubbling.
A lot of parents have a tough time getting veggies into their kids, food bloggers included. The best tool in the case of cauliflower/broccoli hating kids is a blender or food processor. Pulse the pieces of veggies in a blender or food processor until they’re tiny and mostly indistinguishable. I guarantee the cauliflower will go completely unnoticed as it’s colouring won’t stand out. Plus, cauliflower and cheese are kind of meant to be together anyways. I love broccoli and I seem to have (thankfully) passed this trait onto one of my kids so I just chop the veggies up as shown in the photos.
Serves 8-10 (hello 2 for 1 dinner!)
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups milk (1% through whole milk will work)
1 tbsp kosher salt (use 2 tsp salt if using regular table salt)
fresh ground pepper
1 lbs elbow macaroni pasta
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
4 cups small florets/pieces cauliflower, broccoli, or a mix of both
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 tbsp olive oil
Preheat oven to 400° F.
Melt butter in a large sauce pan over medium-high heat. Add flour and cook, whisking constantly for 1 minute. Whisk in milk and 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook, whisking often for about 10 minutes. A thin glossy sauce will form (it won’t be thick at all). Stir in salt and lots of black pepper (about 1/2 tsp). Remove from heat.
Toss pasta, vegetable pieces, and cheese in large casserole dish and pour sauce over. Do not stir. (I used two smaller dishes and froze one to keep for when we’re in a pinch). Cover with tin foil and bake for 20 minutes or until pasta is almost tender.
Meanwhile, mix together garlic, panko, and oil in a small bowl.
Remove foil from pasta and top with breadcrumbs mixture. Return to oven for 10-15 minutes to brown breadcrumbs and until edges are bubbling.
Let sit for a few minutes before serving … If you can.
Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit