Was the last time you made mac and cheese from a blue box? It doesn't have to be like that, to quote a great band. It's quite simple actually. Boil some pasta, make a sauce with just a few ingredients, combine those two and then bake in the oven. Sprinkle some crunchy stuff on top if you wanna get fancy. Making your own mac and cheese is easy and downright fun! Now, we know it has a bit of cheese and a touch of butter, it's not a light meal. It's a meal to be eaten with pajamas, slippers, and possibly a blanket while on the couch. It's for those days that are cold, rainy, and windy (like right now). Although that's not to say you can't squeeze some health into it, by adding broccoli we gain a serving of one of the most healthiest foods you can eat, and by burying it in cheese and pasta you don't have to taste it, if you're like me. I have learned to like cauliflower, and I can eat a small portion of broccoli as an adult, but I still don't have to say it tastes good. Unless, I make this broccoli mac and cheese or use the vegetable to scoop all the cheese sauce out of the can with the pull-top lid.
While the dish bakes in the oven, you will find plenty of time to throw together a dinner salad or fire up some protein for a well-rounded meal. The leftovers freeze well for a quick side dish or frozen lunch.
One of my favorite childhood casseroles was the hot dog and mac and cheese bake. Some cut up encased meats of various sources, Kraft, some brown sugar and yellow mustard. And the best part- the crushed potato chips on top. I'm sure you have your own favorite mac and cheese, perhaps it's time to eat your veggies too?
Broccoli Mac and Cheddar
2 TB butter
3/4 C panko bread crumbs
4 C milk (I use 2%)
6 cloves garlic, whole
1/4 ts black pepper
1 lb cavatappi
1 head broccoli, trimmed, cut into small florets
3 TB butter
3 TB flour
4 C sharp cheddar cheese
2 ts dijon mustard
pinch chili flake
S&P to taste
Fire up the heater to 350F. Melt 2 TB butter in small skillet over medium-low heat, then add the bread crumbs. Stir often while toasting for 1-2 minutes, until lightly browned. Set aside.
In a medium saucepan, warm the milk on a back burner with the garlic cloves and black pepper. Heat up your (salted) pasta cooking water, add the pasta when the milk is hot but not boiling and your oven is preheated. After three minutes, add the broccoli to the cooking pasta.
In a medium skillet over medium-low heat, melt the 3TB butter and then add the flour. Whisk constantly to form a golden-colored roux, about 3 minutes. With the garlic cloves removed, add in the milk gradually while whisking, until slightly thickened, about 3-5 minutes. Add the mustard chili flake, and shredded cheddar, remove from heat and stir to melt the cheese and make one hell of a tasty sauce.
When the pasta has cooked to al dente, not too soft, drain and add to a baking dish, evenly dispersing the broccoli. Cover with the cheese bechamel, making sure to squeeze some in every nook and cranny possible. Top with the toasted panko, and slide into the oven for about 30-35 minutes until bubbly hot, serve immediately for best effect.
Looks like your standard m&c from afar, but there's green vegetables hiding in there!