For the past two nights, I craved Mac & Cheese.  Seriously, I was obsessing about it.  So, to avoid doing something really terrible like buying a prepackaged commercial brand of the stuff and regretting it the second I swallowed the last bite, I had to take on the project myself.

Mac & Cheese  has to be one of my all time favorite dishes.  Though, I’ve nearly given up the dish as the good ones are loaded with saturated fat and calories that just don’t seem worth it.  Well, until now.  Last night, I took on this classic dish and spruced it up with enough healthy ingredients, that I didn’t regret eating one single bite.  (Did I mention that I had seconds?)

Of course, I also wanted to make sure that I didn’t destroy the great taste and comfort of the dish which has made it a classic at dinner tables and parties for so many years.  I’m all about making dishes healthy (or healthier) but if they don’t taste good than WHAT’S THE POINT?

Click below for the recipe for this made-over classic with a bunch of veggies, lots of color, and a lot less guilt.

 

Mac & Cheese with Veggies (and Less Guilt)

INGREDIENTS:

  • box (12 oz) of elbow pasta (multigrain when possible)
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped fine
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, chopped fine
  • 1/2 head of cauliflower, chopped into tiny pieces
  • 2 zucchinis, shredded
  • 2 carrots, shredded
  • 3-4 handfuls of fresh spinach, chopped
  • 6 oz extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (NOTE: using extra sharp cheddar allows you to use less cheese, but keep the flavor)
  • 8 oz reduced fat sour cream
  • 1/2 c soy or almond milk (or fat free cows milk)
  • 1T stone ground mustard
  • 4-5 slices of multigrain bread
  • 1/2 c flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper

You may also add or substitute with:

  • broccoli, chopped into tiny pieces
  • red bell pepper, chopped fine
  • eggplant, chopped fine or shredded
  • (someone suggested peas, which I find appalling, but if they make you happy, then go for it.)

INSTRUCTIONS:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Cook pasta according to instructions on box and drain.
  • Saute garlic and onion in olive oil for 3-5 mins.  Add salt, pepper, cauliflower, carrots, and zucchini and saute another 3 minutes.  Add spinach to top of sauteed veggies, cover, and remove from heat.  (Spinach will wilt from remaining heat.)
  • In food processor, pulse torn bread with parsley, salt, and pepper until crumbled.
  • In extra large mixing bowl, while pasta is still hot, mix with shredded cheese.  Add sour cream, mustard, salt and pepper and mix.  Add in milk.  Mix in sauteed veggies.  Taste to see if additional salt or pepper is needed.
  • Spread cheesy pasta mixture into large, shallow casserole dish and top with bread crumbs.
  • Bake 12-15 minutes until breadcrumbs are toasted.
  • DIG IN!  DON’T BE SHY!