We just got back from a little vacation and I had to pick up my Noisy Rabbit produce basket from a friend who picked it up for me last week while we were away. Needless to say, some of the veggies were looking a little limp by then and I knew I was going to have to throw together a very veggie dinner or I would be throwing them in the trash (I know, I know I should have a compost, but we live in a rental). I was looking at this crazy assortment of veggies and wondering what I could make--not soup because I was making that later in the week--so what? I had been promising homemade mac n' cheese, so I decided to go with a very veggie macaroni and cheese.
If you already have a favorite MAC recipe, basically you just add veggies. However, if your recipe has a cream sauce base (as mine does) you will need to adjust for the veggies by either adding extra sauce or less pasta. Here is what I did to make one 9x13 baking dish of veggie-licious mac n' cheese.
I cooked all of my veggies first. I decided to steam them in batches because they were veggies of differing textures and cooking time. I believe I used: broccoli, spinach, green beans, zucchini, garlic, green onions, mushrooms and parsnips--very GREEN. As I finished steaming each vegetable (I sauteed the shrooms) I just dumped them all in a bowl together. I started the MAC with the basic cream sauce recipe that I learned in Master Recipes. I doubled the recipe for the sauce. Meanwhile I cooked 1lb. elbow macaroni in salted water until just a little undercooked. Once the sauce was ready, I gently folded the sauce, macaroni, and vegetables together and poured it all into a greased 9x13 dish. I then grated some more cheddar over the top and baked until bubbly and hot. You could actually do a butter and bread crumbs topping over this, which would also be delicious. My oven happened to be on 425 for the frozen fish the kids had thrown in the oven, so we went with it, but normally it would be 350. I forgot to add the mustard powder because I was in such a hurry, but it adds a nice flavor to the macaroni. Sorry, no pictures. I wasn't planning on putting this in my blog, but afterwards I thought it was a nice recipe to share.
Here's the plain ole recipe:
Lotsa Veggies Mac N' Cheese
16 ounces elbow noodles, cooked al dente and drained
12 ounces cheddar cheese, or combination of other flavorful cheeses
2-3 cups cooked veggies of your choice
2 cups milk
2 cups chicken broth or 2 cups water and bouillon
1 stick butter
1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1-2 teaspoons dry mustard
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Warm your four cups of liquid on the stove or in the microwave. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large saucepan, add flour and stir with a whisk until smooth. Stirring constantly, cook on low for 3 minutes. Add warmed liquid to your roux (butter flour mixture) and stir until there are no bits of flour. Add the salt, pepper, and mustard powder. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until the sauce comes to a boil. Lower heat and allow to simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in 8 ounces of shredded cheese and stir until completely melted. Carefully (because it's hot), taste your sauce. Add salt and pepper if needed. Combine the macaroni and veggies in a large bowl and pour sauce over all, gently stir together. Pour into a greased 13x9 dish and top with 8 ounces shredded cheese. Bake in preheated oven until bubbly hot and a little browned on top--maybe 20 minutes.