It doesn't matter if you're still in a booster seat or a dinner table regular, mac and cheese is awesome. But getting kids off of the neon orange stuff can be a challenge. This healthy, veggie-infused recipe is as sneaky as it gets. If you have a go-to mac and cheese recipe of your own, no worries, just add the veggie puree listed below to give your dish a healthy boost. The veggie puree matches the texture and color of traditional mac and cheese, but if you prefer a deeper color, replace the turnips and parsnips with yams and butternut squash. The vegetables add a bunch of vitamins (C, B-6, B-12) and minerals (potassium, iron, magnesium). Don't be intimidated by the list of ingredients, once you have everything together this dish is a breeze. Hope everyone at the dinner table enjoys!
||Homey, rustic, and simple, this Le Creuset baking dish is my favorite vessel for gooey mac and cheese. Le Creuset Heritage Stoneware Oval Gratin, $25, Williams-Sonoma.
|For the mac:
1 cup swiss, grated
1 cup cheddar, grated
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
8-12 ounces quinoa elbow macaroni or whole wheat elbow macaroni
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons flour
||For the veggie puree:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/3 cup peeled and diced turnip
1/3 cup chopped cauliflower
1/3 cup peeled and diced parsnip
1/4 cup cashews
|For the white sauce:
2 cups milk (you may need more to get the right consistency)
1 yellow onion, roughly sliced
1 bay leaf
Pinch of chili flakes
1 tablespoon black pepper cloves
1 garlic clove, halved
||For the breadcrumbs:
2 slices whole grain bread torn into pieces
1 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
(makes one 9 x 13 pan
1. For the veggie puree, soak the cashews in room temperature water overnight (or speed up the process, but get a less creamy consistency by soaking them in hot water for 2 hours). Drain and set aside.
2. Pulse all breadcrumb ingredients in a food processor until well combined. Set aside.
3. Preheat oven to 425 F. Spread out the turnips, cauliflower, and parsnip on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and season with a pinch of kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.
4. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender and golden brown.
5. Take the veggies out of the oven and add to a food processor along with the cashews. Add 2/3 cup of water and a pinch of salt and puree until very smooth. Add more water if necessary, it should have the consistency of a pureed soup.
6. For the sauce for the mac and cheese, heat the milk in a small saucepan with all of the sauce ingredients, but be careful not to boil it.
7. Meanwhile, cook the macaroni according to package instructions.
8. In a medium pot over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the flour, and whisk to create a roux (this will give something for the cheese to cling to).
9. Reduce heat to low and continue to cook the roux for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. While whisking, add the hot white sauce through a strainer a little at a time and cook for a minute or two more until thickened and smooth.
10. Remove from heat and add the veggie puree, cheese, pepper, and nutmeg. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir well to combine.
11. Start with about 8 oz of the cooked macaroni and fold into the cheese sauce. Feel free to add more pasta if you prefer.
12. Pour mixture into greased ramekins (or a 9x13 baking dish). Add the prepared bread crumbs on top of the mac and cheese, covering the entire top layer.
13. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the crust is browned on top.
For more recipe inspiration check out the Kitchy Kitchen
Photographs: Claire Thomas