Macaroni and Cheese may not be considered the most healthy dinner option but with this recipe, I believe there is nothing to feel guilty about. I mean the amount of roasted vegetables used in this dish makes it purely guilty free and just because you're using some extra cheese in your sauce doesn't make it unhealthy! We all need our daily source of dairy right :p?
This dish is great for a cozy dinner but also plays off well at dinner parties (check out the variations below). Once you see the recipe it might seem a little long but, believe me, there's no technicality in this dish. It really is just four steps. 1)Roast vegetables, 2) Make Sauce, 3) Cook Pasta, and 4) Mix. I used my favorite vegetables for this dish but do not hesitate to add your favorites to it. Also, to check out my tip on how to store Cheese for weeks, click here! Hope you enjoy!!
INGREDIENTS 200 grams of Macaroni
Cheese Sauce 2 tbsp flour 1 cup of milk 1/2 cup stock of your choice ( If you don't have stock, just substitute with milk) 1/4 cup of butter 1 cup of mixed cheese of your choice (I used 3/4 parmesan and 1/4 mozzarella) 2 tbsp salt 2 tsp pepper 1 tbsp truffle oil (optional)
Vegetables 2 sprigs of thyme 1 garlic clove minced 1 cup chopped leek ( or 1 cup finely chopped onions) 2 cups of chopped mushroom 2 cups of broccoli heads 1 cup of peeled and chopped squash cubes 2 tbsp olive oil 4 garlic cloves unpeeled
STEPS In a pot, boil enough water with about a tablespoon of salt for the macaroni, and also heat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit for vegetables. While your water is heating up, chop up your broccoli, squash and prep your 4 cloves of unpeeled garlic. On a flat baking tray lay out the broccoli, squash, and garlic cloves. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle about 1 tbsp salt and a tsp of pepper and place into the oven for 15-20 minutes.
Now heat a pan with a tbsp of olive oil. Add the thyme and garlic, and fry for about 20-30 seconds. At this point, add in your leeks and fry for about 5 minutes. Add in the mushroom, sprinkle a tsp of salt and fry till the mushroom has released all its water. This is a good time to start boiling your pasta because we are nearly done here! When the mushrooms have slightly dried out, discard the thyme sprigs, turn the heat off, and set pan aside.
At this point, check on your vegetables, if they looked cooked through, then mix into the pan with the mushrooms and leeks. Now in a saucepan, heat butter and minced garlic over medium heat. Once your butter has melted, with a whisk ready in your hand, add in the flour and whisk vigorously. You want to cook the flour through, before adding the milk, so whisk for about a minute. Take the pot away from the heat for one moment, add in a 1/4 cup of milk and mix vigorously. Now place the pot back onto the heat and keep adding in 1/4 of a cup of milk at a time and whisking. Repeat this step till you've added 1 cup or 4 quarter cups of milk. By taking the pan off the heat, you are using the residual heat already in the pan, and preventing the milk from splitting. Now you can either add another 1/2 a cup of milk to the sauce or 1/2 cup of stock and mix it in (if you like your pasta really saucy, add a bit more). Add 1 tsp salt and pepper. Finally, mix in the cheese and pour vegetables into the sauce and taste to make sure you like the consistency.
Your pasta should be done by now, but just check to make sure its cooked to your liking, al dente or not. Once your pasta is ready, strain it and mix it in the pasta sauce and serve with freshly grated parmesan.
VARIATIONS I would definitely add some truffle oil to the pasta sauce next time and it is also a good variation to serve for a dinner party. Before adding in the vegetables to your sauce, just add 1 tbsp of truffle oil to the cheese sauce and mix . It takes it to a whole other level!
Also if you are using this recipe for a dinner party, once you're done with all the steps, pour your pasta into a baking dish, grate a generous amount of parmesan and place it into the oven on the top rack. Now you can either turn your broiler (usually 500 degrees f) and let the cheese melt until slightly golden brown, or, just heat it in your oven for about 10 minutes at 400 Fahrenheit. All ovens can vary, so do keep an eye on your cheese once you put it in!