My husband is gluten free and our girls LOVE macaroni. I float somewhere in the middle. I am certainly not gluten free (GIRL SCOUT COOKIES!), however, I could easily live without pasta. Typically I make a single meal for the four of us, however, sometimes it makes sense to make a big batch of macaroni for the kids that can be reheated for lunches and dinners a few nights in a row. And that is how I came to make this veggie packed macaroni.
This was a huge hit with the little ones! In fact, my oldest yelled, “This is the best meal ever!!!” when I set it on the table. Wow! I wish I received that kind of enthusiasm every night! I had to agree with her–this is darn good. I”ll be honest–I think the wheel-shaped macaroni is a huge selling point. The tiny spokes ooze with the gooey, drippy, melty cheese sauce in the most wonderful of ways. Also, the chunky little circles of pasta are easy for little fingers to pick up and pop in their mouths.
Veggie Packed Macaroni and Cheese:
- 3 cups uncooked wheel-shaped macaroni
- 1 cup diced carrots
- 3 cups broccoli florets
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 small onion, finely diced
- 1/4 cup flour
- 2 cups milk
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- salt and black pepper
Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray a 9 x 13 baking dish with cooking spray
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add in the macaroni and diced carrots. Set timer for 9 minutes and cook until your timer has four minutes remaining then add the broccoli. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the timer goes off and/or pasta is al dente. Remove from heat, add in the peas, stir, and reserve 1/3 cup of the cooking liquid. Then, drain the pasta/carrot/broccoli/pea mixture and set aside.
Meanwhile, make the cheese sauce. Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat, then add in the diced onions. Cook until onions are soft and translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring frequently, for 3 minutes. Whisk in the milk and broth. Bring to a boil, whisking constantly, then reduce heat and simmer for 3 minutes, until the sauce is thickened. Remove from heat, and stir in the cheddar, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Stir until smooth.
In a large bowl, stir together cooked macaroni/veggies, reserved cooking liquid, + the cheese sauce. Transfer to the prepared 9×13 dish. bake at 350 F for 20 minutes or until cheese is bubbly.