Very Veggie Mac and Cheese

Last night as I was huddled under a blanket on my couch and watching a movie, I realized that a nice hot bowl of macaroni and cheese would be the perfect comfort food. I haven’t made any from scratch in a while, so today I investigated what modifications I could make and went out to get my supplies.

I have been inspired by Jessica Seinfeld’s book Deceptively Delicious  recently, and have enjoyed throwing pureed vegetables into the most innocent of foods. Last week I made her blueberry oatmeal bars for a wedding shower, and no one would have guessed that the filling had pureed spinach in it! In fact, I still can’t get over the fact that the blueberry preserves were able to mask the very pungent taste, smell and color of the spinach. So, for the mac and cheese, I thought some pureed squash might be the perfect thing with which to extend the sauce.


I wasn’t really in the mood to buy, roast and puree an actual butternut squash, so I picked up a few jars of baby food which worked out quite nicely. Baby food always comes in handy for my culinary adventures – I highly recommend trying some of the fruit combinations when making a white cake instead of the oil, delicious!


I also put my Cuisinart food processor to work and let it prepare my breadcrumbs and cheese. It was my first time using the grater attachment, and what a marvel that is! I had to go dig out the box out in the garage and find the directions, so I could figure out how to use all the attachments, but the fact that it grated almost 2 cups of cheddar in all of 5 seconds was pretty amazing. I used a combination of Cabot’s 50% reduced fat cheddar and sharp *full-fat cheddar, partly because I was worried about the sauce having a squash-y taste, so I wanted plenty of lovely cheesy taste. 


stp820752Of course, I don’t make mac and cheese without some sort of added ingredient thrown in with the pasta and sauce. Usually, a can of diced tomatoes is my choice, but I actually had a few roma tomatoes on hand, so I chopped them up. And… I’ve been craving kale for some strange reason, so I bought a bunch, stripped the stalks and chopped the greens, which were then sauteed in some EVOO, garlic and the diced tomatoes. Colorful and delicious vegetables ready to go!



Ingredients are prepped and ready for the sauce to be made! I’ll admit that I don’t think I used enough flour to get a good roux going – my sauce never seemed to thicken appropriately. But oh well… that’s what cooking is all about! There was still plenty of cheesy sauce to go over all the pasta and veggies, and it tasted marvelous. Oh yes, and no squash taste at all. I’m not a huge fan of the butternut/pumpkin taste, so that was important for me, but for all you squashophiles, you probably would’ve enjoyed that flavor. Well, you all would probably have used actual squash too, rather than baby food. haha.


And voila – the final product! Since I am cooking for just myself, I baked two of these smaller baking dishes, and saved the rest to be baked at a later time.

Here’s the recipe I used. Nothing super exact, since I kinda made it up :) 

1 box (14.5 oz) elbow macaroni
1 tablespoon butter (probably should’ve done 2)
1 tablespoon flour (I used whole-wheat, and again, probably should’ve done 2 Tbsp)
2 cups milk (I used skim of course!)
pinch/dash of nutmeg 
1.5 cups grated cheddar cheese
2 4oz jars pureed squash

3 roma tomatoes, diced
1 bunch kale, washed and roughly chopped (no stalks for me)
EVOO – 2 tsp maybe?
1 tsp minced garlic

1/3 cups breadcrumbs (I used a whole wheat pita in the food processor)


Cook the pasta and drain.

Veggies: sautee garlic in EVOO over med-high heat for a minute (before they turn brown) and add kale. Cook for a few minutes, then add tomatoes and mix. Empty in a bowl.

Sauce: melt butter over med/high heat, then add flour and whisk until mixed. This is your roux :) Cook for about a minute, then slowly whisk in the milk and stir until sauce thickens (and if it still hasn’t thickened after 10 minutes, you’re like me and either don’t have enough flour, or your heating element has died, or something fun like that). Then add your cheese and squash puree and mix until melted through and bubbly.

Pour pasta into sauce, stir to coat, and throw in veggies.

Pour everything into greased baking dish(es), top with breadcrumbs and bake at 350 for 30ish minutes (depends on size of you dish.) Keep foil on for the majority of it, and remove for the last 5 minutes until the top gets nice and golden looking. 

Try not to burn your mouth (like I did) and enjoy!


One Response

  1. sigh…you do dirty a lot of dishes in the process, don’t you?? For graduation I will buy you a dozen more bowls.

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