Veggie Macaroni and Cheese

There are a few things to which I should never admit.  For instance, my insane weakness for BLTs and bacon in general.  Or the fact that I occasionally put an ice cube in my wine during summertime.  Even worse, that I get inexplicably excited when I realize I have all the ingredients for a recipe without having to go to the grocery store.  Better yet, if in the process I can also use up a few things that would otherwise have been gone to waste in my refrigerator, I’m in heaven.

This is exactly what happened after a string of classes that left me with a couple different varieties of leftover blocks of cheese, two thirds of a can of diced tomatoes, broccoli florets, and some whole milk (which I never usually buy).  To me this screams homemade mac-and-cheese. 

I grew up eating great homemade macaroni and cheese.  My mother would cube both cheddar and Velveeta for her baked dish, which always yielded a delicious result.  These days both my mom and I avoid as much processed food as we can, so I’ve switched from Velveeta to Gruyere, but kept the cheddar (I prefer white sharp cheddar).  I also added some veggies…diced tomatoes and broccoli…to rev up the nutrients in my mac and cheese.  It also makes it more colorful, which I love.  Top with some crunchy Japanese-style “Panko” breadcrumbs and you have a delicious, homey dish, which was perfect for this “oh my goodness it’s spring but it’s snowing!” kind of days!

Veggie Mac & Cheese

 Serves 6

1 lb pasta (I used “orechette” –but any short shape works)

2 cups broccoli florets

4 tablespoons (half a stick) of unsalted butter

1/4 cup flour

2 cups milk

2 cups grated Gruyere cheese

1 cup grated sharp white cheddar

1/3 cup grated parmesan or pecorino romano cheese

1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1 teaspoon salt

freshly ground white pepper

1 cup diced tomato (drained of juices)

In a large pot of salted water, cook pasta according to package directions.  During last minute of cooking time, add broccoli directly to the water.  Drain pasta and broccoli and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large pan, heat butter until melted.  Add flour to pan and whisk vigorously for a couple of minutes until it forms a bit of a paste.  Add milk to pan and stir.  Allow to heat for about 5 minutes, then add all the cheeses until melted (stir occasionally).  Add nutmeg, salt, and pepper and stir to combine.

Toss the pasta, broccoli and diced tomatoes to the cheese mixture and transfer into a large baking or casserole dish.  Top with panko breadcrumbs and run under the broiler for a couple of minutes until top is toasted and golden.  Serve hot.

Click here for more information about Tracy’s Connecticut cooking classes, or to read her The Secret Ingredient Blog.

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One Response to “Veggie Macaroni and Cheese”

  1. Broccoli-Rice Bake with Cheddar « Season To Taste Says:

    […]  I decided to make a less processed cheese sauce (similar to that used in last week’s mac and cheese) and then just mix it with the broccoli and […]

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