Broccoli Mac n’ Cheese Bake

Posted on by Lisa Codina 1128 Views

Mac n’ cheese…need I say more?

How about, HEALTHY mac n’ cheese?

How about healthy mac n’ cheese with a VEGGIE-twist?

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My kids don’t know it yet but they will never eat Kraft Macaroni n’ Cheese in this house! Personally, I find that the homemade version is SO much tastier (and obviously healthier) than the “real” thing.

Sneak in add some veggies, such as creamy broccoli for another dimension of flavour (and give your kids what’s good for them-even though they don’t want what’s good for them!).

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I’m calling this a one-pot wonder because 90% of the prep does occur in ONE pot! There are a few options on how to prepare this meal. For example, you can steam the broccoli and cook the pasta in separate pots at the same time. I chose to boil the broccoli in a large pot, remove it then cook the pasta, as well as prepare the sauce in the same pot.

In terms of preparation, this recipe is not necessarily on my “quick” list, however, it’s SO easy to make, yields a large amount which can feed the entire family or be served as leftovers, and not to mention it’s freezer-friendly. My kids had this for dinner, leftovers for the following day’s lunch, and there was enough leftover to freeze for last-minute meals.

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Ingredients
(Yields 8 portions)
1 small head of broccoli (about 2 cups cooked)
2 cups elbow macaroni or pasta of choice
1 tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1 tbs. butter
2 tbs. flour
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 cups milk of choice
1 cup shredded cheese of choice (I used mozzarella), divided
*I also added 2 pieces of Laughing Cow cheese (or 2 oz of any soft cheese) for extra creaminess!
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
about 1/2 cup plain or seasoned breadcrumbs

Preheat oven 350 degrees.

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Remove the thick stalks from the broccoli, discard then chop the remaining broccoli into small florets. Boil in large pot of water until fork tender.

Once tender, scoop the broccoli florets out of the pot with a slotted spoon and set on a paper towel or clean kitchen cloth over a plate to soak up the excess water.
*Alternatively, you can steam the broccoli and follow the same procedure once tender (but will need another pot to cook the pasta!).

Add the pasta to the same pot of boiling water and cook until “al dente.”
*TIP: Remove the pasta about 2 minutes prior to the suggested cooking time on the package to avoid overcooking as it will continue to cook in the oven.

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In the meantime, once the broccoli has cooled, chop it finely, mash it, or puree until smooth. The texture of the broccoli will depend on personal preference. I chose to puree it until creamy and smooth (seeing that my son is still “off” veggies and I didn’t want to risk him not eating this!).

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Drain the pasta in a large colander and set aside. Wipe the inside of the pot dry with a paper towel or clean kitchen cloth then return to the heat.

Set the heat to medium-low, add the butter and olive oil and heat through until the butter has melted. Once melted, sprinkle in the flour and immediately whisk with a metal whisk until uniform and smooth.

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Add the milk, 1/4 cup of Parmesan, 1/2 cup of the mozzarella, and the nutmeg to the pot and heat through for about 5-7 minutes or until it begins to bubble and has thickened slightly. Return the pasta and broccoli to the pot and stir until well-coated with the sauce.

Pour into a 9 by 13 inch pan lightly coated with cooking spray or olive oil. Add the remaining 1/2 cup of mozzarella and 1/4 cup of Parmesan over the pasta. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs evenly over the pasta.

Cook for 30-35 minutes or until the cheese bubbles along the side of the pan and the cheese has melted on top and formed a crunchy, golden layer.

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My sous-chefs not only sabotaged my photo shoot…they also had to “inspect” the final product!

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Creamy, crunchy, cheesy, gooey…just heavenly!

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This was definitely a family fave! Even though I’m gluten and lactose intolerant I still couldn’t keep my hands off this (but obviously suffered afterward for my lack of willpower!).

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  • Jen Lunau Dinchik

    Yum!! Thank you Lisa, this looks amazing! Myself and my kids love KD, but this looks sooooooooo much better (and healthier) :)

    • Lisa @bitesforbabies

      I personally think it tastes way better…and you can personalize it by adding any cheese you want. You can even try swapping the broccoli for cauliflower or even sweet potatoes! Let me know what you think of it ;-)

      • Jen Lunau Dinchik

        I’m going to make it tomorrow when Mikey’s at school…. I don’t want him to see the broccoli going in haha and since its close enough to st. Patrick’s day, that’s a good reason as to why there’s green bits in it! Cauli sounds good also, and he probably wouldn’t notice. I’ve been waiting to make this for days, I’m so excited! Lol

        • Lisa @bitesforbabies

          Good call, lol! Actually, believe it or not, my son knew what was going in it and still ate it! I guess he just forgot because, let me tell you, he inhaled this!!!

  • monica

    This looks amazing (especially that crispy top)! Look how excited your kiddos are too! Thanks for a super great meal idea. :)

    • Lisa @bitesforbabies

      I was surprised how crispy it was too…the kids were hilarious, especially my daughter! Once she figured out it was food I couldn’t get her to stop grabbing at it!

  • Lynne

    This looks so good! :)

    • Lisa @bitesforbabies

      I think it’s a great substitute for regular mac n’cheese…you could also substitute the broccoli with cauliflower or even sweet potatoes!

  • Lisa Tatti-Varacalli

    My daughter prefers home made Mac and cheese – can’t wait to try this version – all her favourites :)

    • Lisa @bitesforbabies

      That’s great-you usually don’t hear that kids actually prefer homemade!! My kids can’t even compare…they’ve never had store-bought Mac n’cheese!!! Hope your daughter loves this too ;-)

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