Trying to get more veggies into your diet? Have a fussy toddler? Try this mac 'n' cheese! It's got all your basics - cheese, noodles, more cheese, broccoli, cheese...
I am a big fan of cheese. And, sometimes, so is my toddler. (Toddler! How crazy is that?) This is a great homemade macaroni and cheese recipe - it makes a whole bunch, so there can be leftovers for lunch the next day. The veggie portion is conveniently coated in cheese, which could make it more desirable to the little (and not-so-little) members of the household. (Cheese!) And despite the fact that there are a bunch of steps to making this, it never seems to take me much time, even with a toddler underfoot. (Toddler!) Plus, any of the various parts can be made ahead and then combined at the last minute, or the entire thing can be assembled and baked when needed! It's terribly versatile. You can also make it as decadently fattening (or not) as you like by using whole milk, skim milk and different types of cheese. Whole wheat pasta? Mix it up!
macaroni & cheese with broccoli
adapted from the Joy of Cooking
- 1 lb. broccoli, chopped (I use fresh because I like the texture better, but frozen would work fine as well)
- 2 cups elbow macaroni
- 2 cups grated cheddar cheese (we like sharp)
- 1 8 oz. package cream cheese or neufchatel cheese, cut into cubes
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 3 cups milk
- 1/2 medium onion, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon paprika
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a 9x13 inch casserole and set aside.
Steam broccoli as you wish - I have a steamer and I use that to steam the broccoli while everything else is cooking. Cook macaroni according to package directions, drain and set aside.
While those things are happening, or after, if you don't have enough pots and pans, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and cook, whisking, for a few minutes. Gradually whisk in the 3 cups of milk. Add onion and paprika and simmer gently for about 15 minutes, stirring frequently.
Remove from heat and stir in half of the cheddar and all of the cream cheese. Stir until nice and smooth and creamy. (Yum!) Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the macaroni and broccoli. I like to slightly overcook my broccoli so that when we get to this stirring part, it will start to fall apart and distribute evenly throughout the macaroni. You may prefer to keep your broccoli chunks larger and/or firmer!
Pour half of the mixture into your baking dish and sprinkle with half of the remaining cheese. Pour in remaining macaroni mixture and top with the rest of the cheese. In a small pan, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter. Add breadcrumbs and stir until coated. Sprinkle over macaroni and bake for about 30 minutes or until breadcrumbs are lightly browned and mixture is bubbly!