I don’t know that I’ve ever met anyone who doesn’t like mac and cheese, and it’s certainly one of my favorites! There is always a time and place for not-so-healthy mac and cheese in my book, but for the majority of the time I prefer to find healthier alternatives for my family. I set out to make a version that kept the classic cheesy taste but ramp up the health factor and came out with a winner!
This baked veggie mac and cheese recipe has a few shortcuts, like using frozen vegetables, and it can be served as a main dish as it has 20 grams of protein per serving from the peas, pureed beans, and whole wheat pasta. For the cheese, I highly recommend buying a block of cheese and shredding it versus buying pre-shredded cheese. Pre-shredded cheese is usually coated with an anti-caking agent which can sometimes make the cheese not melt as well. To save time, I usually just shred the cheese with the shredding attachment on my food processor (or you can just grate it on the large hole side of a box grater).
Nutrition stats aren’t too shabby! Based on one serving (recipe serves 10 people).
- 8 oz block medium cheddar
- 2 cups milk
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard (powdered kind)
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 can great northern beans
- 12 oz bag frozen California vegetable medley (mix of broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots)
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
- 3 cups small whole wheat pasta (shells, elbows, etc.)
- Preheat oven to 350 and spray a 9x13 casserole dish with non-stick spray.
- Cook pasta according to package directions and drain well
- While the pasta is cooking, thaw the frozen California vegetable medley in the microwave and chop finely
- Shred the cheese and puree the beans in a food processor (add a drizzle of water if the beans are not pureeing well) *
- In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat
- Once melted, add the flour, whisk it in to the melted butter, and allow the flour to cook for 30 seconds to a minute
- Add the milk while whisking to break up and dissolve any bits of flour
- Add the dry mustard, paprika, and black pepper and whisk again
- As the milk mixture begins to foam and bubble (do not allow it to simmer or boil!), turn off the heat and whisk in the shredded cheddar and bean puree.
- Whisk or stir until smooth
- Add the cooked pasta, chopped vegetable medley, and frozen peas (no need to thaw) and mix very well
- Transfer the mixture to the casserole dish and top with Panko breadcrumbs
- Bake for 30 minutes and allow it to stand for about 5 minutes before serving.
- * If you don't have a food processor available, mash the beans very well with a fork