Mac and Cheese, Tweaked

I love mac and cheese, but sometimes I like it with a bit of a twist. Here’s my latest version, which I must confess is extra good if you serve it with some meatballs, but excellent by itself. And you will feel virtuous because it has lots of veggies.

2 slices wheat bread

1 cup Parmesan cheese

1 cup fontina cheese

1/2 cup Gorgonzola cheese

1/4 cup cheddar cheese

1/2 lb whole wheat penne

1 1/2 cup frozen peas

2 oz fresh baby spinach

2 cups cooked cauliflower florets

2 tsp butter

2 tsp flour

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

 

Make the bread into breadcrumbs in the food processor. Add 1/4 cup Parmesan, and 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper. Mix and set aside.

Preheat oven to 400.

Begin cooking pasta, you want it done about the time the sauce below is, so make them simultaneously if you can. Just when it reaches doneness, add the vegetables to the pot and cook until they’re hot and the spinach is wilted (about a minute or two).

Mix cheeses in a bowl. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat and whisk in flour, cooking for about 30 seconds. Whisk in the cream and turn up to high, bringing to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer, stirring occassionally, for about 1 minute. Add in 1/4 tsp salt and pepper.

Drain pasta and vegetables and place them on top of the cheeses in the bowl. Pour the cream sauce on top. Cover and let it sit for 3 minutes.

Pour into a greased 13×9 baking dish and cover with breadcrumb mix, pressing it down into the pasta. Bake at 400 for 7 minutes until the breadcrumbs are slightly browned.

I loved this. I am generally not a Gorgonzola fan, but the little bit in this recipe gives it a really interesting tang. This was creamy and cheesy but it had enough veggies in it to make it feel like a meal to me. Oh and if you just happen to have a bag of turkey meatballs already made in your freezer, adding one to your plate makes this supreme.

 

19 Responses to Mac and Cheese, Tweaked

  1. sheryl says:

    Oh, my, this looks absolutely scrumptious. Of course, being the health nut I am, I would shy away from it because of the cream and all the cheeses. But I did notice it uses whole wheat pasta 🙂 I wonder if there’s a low-fat substitute? (Probably not..)

  2. It never occurred to me to add cauliflower, but I can totally see how that would all go together. This is a must try!

  3. Merr says:

    Honestly, this sounds elegant!

  4. marthaandme says:

    And the cauliflower sort of disappears, so kids don’t see it. Cauliflower is always good with cheese too.

  5. marthaandme says:

    I know, but if you just *have* to have mac and cheese, this at least has whole grains and veggies – and none of that horrible orange powdered cheese! You could definitely make this with skim milk, or at least 2% milk. I sub skim milk for cream a lot. You have to be prepared to thicken it a bit more sometimes. This serves 6-8 people also, I forgot to mention.

  6. Jane Boursaw says:

    This looks SO good, Brette. And perfect comfort food for a snowy evening.

  7. marthaandme says:

    It was gobbled up at this house. And the leftovers have been making great lunches. One busy night when I had had only some fruit for dinner, I was completely starved later at night and was desperate for protein, so I pulled out a couple of frozen meatballs and heated them up with this and it was heaven, I tell you, complete heaven.

  8. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jane Boursaw, Alisa Bowman. Alisa Bowman said: A new healthier twist on Mac n Cheese: http://bit.ly/geNL81 #wsbr […]

  9. Frugal Kiwi says:

    In winter I’m a real sucker for the occasional proper mac and cheese with veggies. Here in NZ, the standard mac and cheese also comes with middle bacon, but I don’t find it needs it. This looks like a good ‘un.

  10. Talar says:

    This looks great! I love mac and cheese and tend to avoid it because I end up feeling guilty for eating all that cheese and cream. Adding veggies definitely bumps up the nutritional value!

  11. Looks good. I make a version with shrimp and another with lobster and gruyere.

  12. Susan says:

    Yum! That combination of cheeses sounds delicious and the veggies make it sound like less of an indulgence and more like a hearty meal with nutritional value.

  13. marthaandme says:

    Oh, lobster mac and cheese…..sigh. It is just heaven, isn’t it? Truly one of the best things ever invented!

  14. I love the idea of using gorgonzola. Lately, we’ve been using gouda in ours. Soooo good.

  15. Mac and cheese & meatballs are quite possibly the greatest comfort foods of all time… to put them on the same plate? HEAVEN!

  16. marthaandme says:

    Oh that sounds wonderful.

  17. This combination of cheeses sounds amazing!

  18. Like a cauliflower cheese and macaroni cheese in one – I am sold. This looks really good. And all that cheese how yummy!

  19. Yum and healthy, at least healthier than regular mac and cheese. I like how you spruced it up with whole wheat pasta and lots of veggies. I left a comment.
    Jeanine

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