It has vegetables so it’s a health food!
So, this is my thing. I used to work for a pediatric obesity clinic and it was my most favorite thing ever. But, by “work” I mean “intern,” which means “work for free because I was in grad school and almost 30 and needed the hours to graduate.” So I couldn’t stay there, but I loved it so much because I got to counsel children and families and teach cooking classes and talk about exercise, and it was just the best ever.
Anyway. While I was there I preached the idea that you really need to ingest 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day, no matter what. It was part of a whole plan of being healthy as a lifestyle, not just to lose weight, because teaching kids to lose weight just isn’t a good idea. Kids need to know how to LIVE, not how to LOSE. It’s an important distinction.
So. Mac and cheese! It’s ok for it to be a part of life, and even better if it includes veggies. So that’s what we did: roasted some summer veggies, added them to the most flavorful mac you ever did meet, and BOOM dinner. Add a salad a lean protein and you have a seriously balanced meal.
You need pasta, cheese, cream, milk (almond is just what we use, use whatever you like), whole canned tomatoes, butter, flour (not in the picture, sorry), a bell pepper, a zucchini, 2 scallions, garlic, and a chicken bouillon cube. Chicken bouillon is my JAM, it tastes great and is cheaper than stock, + saves fridge space. Bouillon cubes FTW!
First, we’ll start on the veggies, which need to be roasted before we proceed with the mac and cheese. So. Preheat the oven to 400F and chop the zucchini and bell pepper.
Arrange them on a baking sheet in one layer (I use parchment paper to keep everything nonstick), and drizzle the pan with olive oil. Sprinkle the veggies with stalk and stick them in the oven for 20 minutes or so to soften and get brown at the edges. While the vegetables are roasting, boil the pasta to al dente, drain it, and set it aside.
Other prep: grate the cheese and mince the garlic. Slice the scallions. Drink all the wine.
When the veggies are browned and wilted, bring them out of the oven and set them aside. Leave the oven on for baking the mac (unless you’re making this in advance).
Now, for the sauce! In a big skillet, melt the butter with the garlic and the bouillon cube.
When the garlic starts to sizzle but not brown, add the flour to the skillet.
Stir everything together to form a chicken/garlic/butter/flour paste (gross, but not), then slowly pour in the cream and milk, stirring as you go. The liquid will mix with the flour paste and thicken.
Then, add the cheese.
Let it melt into the sauce and get stringy and wonderful.
To finish, add the pasta, the tomatoes (drained, crushed gently in your hands), and roasted vegetables to the cheese sauce.
Stir everything together and taste the mac; add as much salt and pepper as you’d like. Don’t be shy!
Now, transfer everything to a baking dish and bake the mac and cheese for 20 minutes or so until the macaroni is bubbly and the top of the dish is browned slightly. Top it with the scallions you sliced earlier!
Omg. Heaven. Carby and cheese and vegetably and so flavorful. Sharp cheddar and the flavor from the bouillon give the whole dish a special tang that can’t be described very well but that is fully addictive. I also threw some fresh basil on top of this because it felt extra summery that way, but any fresh herbs you like would be great!
Oooey is probably a taste word we can use to describe this, right?
- 16 ounces short pasta, cooked to package directions
- olive oil and salt
- 1 bell pepper, diced
- 1 zucchini, diced
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cube chicken bouillon
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 cup almond milk
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup grated white cheddar cheese
- 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
- 28 ounces canned whole tomatoes, drained and lightly crushed to form smaller pieces
- 2 scallions, sliced
- fresh herbs for topping
- Preheat the oven to 400F. Arrange the bell pepper and zucchini in one layer on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Roast the vegetables for 20-30 minutes until browned and soft.
- In a large skillet, add the butter, bouillon cube, flour, and garlic over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring as you go, until the bouillon starts to melt into the butter and the flour forms the mixture into a paste, about 5 minutes. Slowly pour in the milk and cream. Let the liquids incorporate with the flour (keep stirring!) and come to a bubble; the sauce will thicken. Add the cheese and stir to melt the cheese into the sauce, saving a little bit for topping the dish.
- Add the cooked pasta, the roasted vegetables, and the tomatoes to the sauce. Stir to combine and taste; add salt and pepper to flavor the mac and cheese. Transfer the mixture to a baking dish (9x13 or similar is what I use) and bake for 30 minutes until the dish is browned on top and bubbly.
- Serve topped with the scallions and herbs. Enjoy!
- Feel free to make this in advance; just save the last baking step for right before you'd like to serve this.